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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Specialist for the IBM System Storage product line at the
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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. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
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It's that time again. Every year, IBM hosts the "System Storage Technical University". I have been going to these since they first started in the 1990s. This time we are at the lovely [Hilton Orlando] in Orlando, Florida.
For those who want to relive past events, here are my blog posts from this event in 2010:
As was the case last year, IBM once again will run this conference alongside the [IBM System x Technical University] the same week, in the same hotel. This allows attendees to cross over to the other side to see a few sessions of the other conference. I took advantage of this last year, and plan to do so again this year as well!
For those on Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [@az990tony] or search on the hash tag #ibmtechu.
Well, it's Tuesday, and so it is "announcement day" again! Actually, for me it is Wednesday morning herein Mumbai, India, but since I was "press embargoed" until 4pm EDT in talking about these enhancements, I had to wait until Wednesday morning here to talk about them.
World's Fastest 1TB tape drive
IBM announced its new enterprise [TS1130 tape drive]and corresponding [TS3500 tape library support]. This one has a funny back-story. Last week while we were preparing the Press Release, we debated on whether we should compare the 1TB per cartridge capacity as double that of Sun's Enterprise T10000 (500GB), or LTO-4 (800GB). The problem changed when Sun announced on Monday they too had a 1TB tape drive, so now instead ofsaying that we had the "World's First 1TB tape drive", we quickly changed this to the "World's Fastest 1TB tape drive" instead. At 160MB/sec top speed, IBM's TS1130 is 33 percent faster than Sun's latest announcement. Sun was rather vague when they will actually ship their new units, so IBM may still end up being first to deliver as well.
While EMC and other disk-only vendors have stopped claiming that "tape is dead", these recent announcements from IBM and Sun indicate that indeed tape is alive and well. IBM is able to borrow technologies from disk, such as the Giant Magneto Resistive (GMR) head over to its tape offerings, which means much of the R&D for disk applies to tape, keeping both forms ofstorage well invested. Tape continues to be the "greenest" storage option, more energy efficient than disk, optical, film, microfiche and even paper.
On the LTO front, IBM enhanced the reporting capabilities of its[TS3310] midrange tape library. This includes identifying the resource utilization of the drives, reporting on media integrity, and improved diagnostics to support library-managed encryption.
IBM System Storage DR550
As a blended disk-and-tape solution, the [IBM System Storage DR550] easily replaces the EMC Centera to meet compliance storagerequirements. IBM announced that we have greatly expanded its scalability, being able to support both 1TBdisk drives, as well as being able to attach to either IBM or Sun's 1TB tape drives.
Massive Array of Idle Disks (MAID)
IBM now offers a "Sleep Mode" in the firmware of the [IBM System Storage DCS9550], which is often called "Massive Array of Idle Disks" (MAID) or spin-down capability. This can reduce the amount of power consumed during idle times.
That's a lot of exciting stuff. I'm off to breakfast now.
IBM has launched a new blog, focused on making [a smarter planet]. In my post,[The New Year in Six Words], Idiscussed the part of Sam Palmisano's speech that mentioned a small $30 Billion investmentcould result in 950,000 new jobs. For those who wondered how IBM arrived to that figure,here are two posts:
Last week's focus was on tape libraries, both virtual and real, leading up to our IBM announcement ofacquiring Diligent Technologies. I was focused on HDS blogger Hu Yoshida's post about his conversation with Mark,who was on an expert panel about these topics. Mark discovered that of the top energy consumersin his datacenter, his tape library was in the top five, a surprising result. Hu suggested that switching to a VTL with deduplicationtechnology was a potential alternative, and I pointed to a whitepaper from the Clipper Group that suggested otherwise.
My response was that perhaps Highmark's choice of backup software was poorly written, or that they had set it up with thewrong parameters, and just changing hardware might not be the right answer. I went too far given that I didn't know which software they had, which parameters theywere using, or which tape technology was involved. This came across wrong. I meant to poke fun at Hu's response.I did not mean to imply that Mark and his staff hadmade poor choices, or that they should automatically reject Hu's advice to consider other hardware alternatives.
I have discussed the situation with Mark, and agree that I should know his situation better before offeringsuggestions of my own.
The focus on square footage resulted in higher density. This reminds me of the classicIBM commercial ["The Heist"] where Gil panics that the roomful of servers are missing, and Ned explains that it was all consolidated ontoa single IBM server.
I suspect few people picked up on the fact that the acronym for["new enterprise datacenter"] spells "Ned", ourdonut-eating hero in these series of videos.
Costs in the data center are proportional to power usage rather than space.
Power efficiency is more of a behavior problem than it is a technology problem.
This is definitely a step in the right direction. Both servers and storage systems consume a large portionof the energy on the data center floor. IBM Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager can includeenergy consumption as part of the chargeback calculations.
I helped set up the IBM booth at the Solutions Center, third floor, where we will have variousproducts on display, as well as subject matter experts to handle all the questions.
I also went ahead and got my conference badge. While most of my cohorts have purple badges, limiting them to the Solution Centers area, I have a red badge, so that I can attend the variouskeynote and break-out sessions this week.
In keeping with our "green" theme, we have all been given matching light green shirts, and these are 70 percent Bamboo cloth, and 30 percent cotton. They are very comfortable,and sustainable! If you see me, come up and just feel my shirt, go ahead, I won't mind!
Tomorrow, the fun begins with the keynote speakers!
I have arrived safely in Las Vegas for the IBM System Storage and Storage Networking Symposium. This eventis held once every year. The gold sponsors were: Brocade, Cisco, Finisar, Servergraph, and VMware. Our silversponsor was Qlogic.
I presented IBM's System Storage strategy and an overview of our product line. For those who missed it,our strategy is focused on helping customers in four key areas:
Optimize IT - to simplify and automate your IT operations and optimize performance and functionality, through server/storage synergies, storage virtualization, and intergrated storage infrastructure management.
Leverage Information - to enable a single view of trusted business information through data sharing, and to get the most value from information through Information Lifecycle Management (ILM).
Mitigate Risk - to comply with security and regulatory requirements, and keep your business running with a complete set of business continuity solutions. IBM offers a range of non-erasable, non-rewriteable storage, encryption on disk and tape, and support for IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) service management disciplines.
Enable Business Flexibility - to provide scalable solutions and protect your IT investment through the use of open industry standards like Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S). IBM offers scalability in three dimensions: Scale-up, Scale-out, and Scale-within.
IBM has a broad storage portfolio, in seven offering categories:
Disk Systems, including our SAN Volume Controller, DS family, and N series.
Tape Systems, including tape drives, libraries and virtualization.
Storage Networking, a complete set of switches, directors and routes
Infrastructure Management, featuring the IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center software
Business Continuity, advanced copy services and the software to manage them
Lifecycle and Retention, our non-erasable, non-rewriteable storage including DR550, N series with SnapLock, and WORM tape support, Grid Archive Manager and our Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS)
Storage Services, everything from consulting, design and deployment to outsourcing and hosting.
I could talk all day on this, but given that the room was packed, every seat taken and the rest of the audience standing along the walls, I had to keep it down to one hour.
SAN Volume Controller Overview
I presented an overview of the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC), IBM's flagship disk virtualizationproduct. Rather than giving a long laundry list of features and benefits,I focused on the five that matter most:
Reduces the cost and complexity of managing storage, especially for mixed storage environments
Simplifies Business Continuity through non-disruptive data migration and advanced copy services
Improves storage utilization, getting more value from the storage hardware you already have
Enhances personnel productivity, empowering storage administrators to get their job done
Delivers high availability and performance
SAN Volume Controller - Customer Success Stories
A good part of this conference are presented by non-IBMers, which include Business Partners and clientssharing their experiences. In this session, we had two speakers share their experiences with SVC.
David Snyder keeps over 80 web sites online and available. His digital media technologiesteam uses SVC to make their storage administration easier, and ensure high availability for web site content creation and publishing.
Mark Prybylski manages storage at his company, a financial bank. His storage management team uses SVC Global Mirror which provides asynchronous disk mirroring between different types of disk, as part oftheir Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery plan.
The last session I attended was "Storage .. to Optimize your ECM depoloyments" by Jerry Bower, now working for IBM as part of our recent acquisition of the Filenet company. ECM stands for Enterprise Content Management, and IBM is the market leader in this space. Jerry gave a great overview of IBM Content Manager software suite, our newly acquired Filenet portfolio, and the storage supported.
After the sessions was a reception at the Solution Center with dozens of exhibitor booths. For example,Optica Technologies had their PRIZM productswhich are able to connect FICON servers to ESCON storage devices.
Well, it's Wednesday, day three at the [Data Center Conference] here in Las Vegas, Nevada. Unlike other conferencesthat concentrate all of their keynote sessions at the front of the agenda,this conference spread them out over several days. They had three on Tuesday, two more Wednesday, and the last one on Thursday. Here are my thoughts on the two keynote sessions on Wednesday.
Top 10 Disruptive Technologies affecting the Data Center
The analyst presented his "top ten" technologies to watch:
Storage Virtualization - I was glad this made top of the list!
Cloud Computing - IBM was recognized for its leadership in this space. Cloud computing brings together new models of acquisition, billing, access, and deployment of new technology.
Servers: Beyond Blades - Currently, distributed servers have fixed CPU, memory and I/O capability, as manufactured at the factory, but what if you can re-assign these resources dynamically? New technologies mightmake this possible.
Virtualization for desktops - not just hosted virtual desktops, the speaker proposed having"portable personalities" that an employee might carry around on a CDrom or USB memory stick, andthen use whatever computer equipment was nearby.
Enterprise Mashups - You know analysts have too much time on their hands when they come up withtheir own eight-layer reference architecture for enterprise adoption of Web 2.0 technologies.
Specialized Systems - These are sometimes called heterogeneous systems, hybrids, or application-specific appliances. Unlike general purposes servers, these are more difficult to re-purpose as your needs change. However, if done right, can provide better performance for specific workloads.
Social Software and Social Networking - A survey of the audience found 18 percent were alreadyusing Mashups in the enterprise, but 65 percent haven't looked at this at all. Because traditionalhierarchically-organized companies can't re-structure their employees fast enough, the use ofsocial software to develop "virtual teams" and "communities of interest" can be an effective wayto get the "wisdom of crowds" from your employees. Rather than just installing this kind of software, the speaker felt it was better to just "plant seeds" and let social networks grow withinthe enterprise.
Unified Communications - Do you use different providers or software for cell phone, land line, wi-fi, internet, Instant Messaging (IM), audio conferencing, video conferencing, and email? The promise of Unified Communications is to bring this all together.
Zones and Pods - In the 1990s, traditional design for data centers tried to anticipate growthover the next 15-20 years, and build accordingly. These did not foresee all the changes in IT.The new best practice is a "pod approach" where you only build what you need for the next 5 to 7years, with the architecture to expand as needed. A traditional 9000-square-foot data center thatsupports 150 "watts-per-square-foot" would cost over $20 million to build, and over $1 million inelectricity every year. A pod alternative might cost less than $12 million to build, and nearlycut electricity costs in half.
Green IT - rapid "green" improvements are being demanded on IT operations, not just forpolitical correctness, but also for cost savings. A survey of the audience found 7 percentwilling to pay a premium price for green solutions, and another 26 percent willing to pay aslightly higher price for green features and attributes.
Don McMillan, Computer Engineer turned Stand Up Comic
Don gave a hilarious look at the IT industry. While most comics that are often hired to entertainthe audience have only a layman's knowledge of what we do, Don has a masters degree in ElectricalEngineering from Stanford and worked at a variety of IT companies, including AT&T Bell Labs andVLSI Technology. You can see more of his bio on his[Technically Funny] Web site.
Here's Don in a [four-minute video] demonstrating the kind of observational humor he performs.
It's good to see a bit of humor at IT conferences. With the pressures of IT staff and managementto manage explosive growth with shrinking budgets, the attendees appreciated the mix of serious with the not-so-serious.