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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior Software Engineer for the IBM Storage product line at the
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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. 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.
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.
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.
A fat boss and his thin female employee stand at the shore.
"Ms. Benakis, I don't want to forget the emotion of the vastness of the ocean. Draft amemo regarding this for me to sign next Monday."
-- "Yes, Mr. Morton"
"And date it as today."
-- "Yes, Mr. Morton"
On the flight home, I met Chris, a software engineer working for a small 60-person outsourcing firm in Costa Rica. He was from Vancouver, Canada but now lives in Costa Rica to avoid dealing with snow. He flies back to Canada several times per year to visit his friends and family.The irony is not lost on me that most of the tourists I met this week flew hundreds or thousands of miles to get here. The Freakonomics blog post [Did Celebrating Earth Day Make You Pollute More?] points to David Disalvo's article [Riding the Self-Regulation See Saw] and Ryan Sager'sarticle [The Al Gore’s Giant Fraggin’ Mansion Effect]. Both of these analyze environmentally moral behaviour.
The real question is whether the Earth Day lessons we learned this week from Costa Rica can apply to countries like the United States that aren't entirely focused on agriculture and tourism. Perhaps so, as Costa Rica is also home of a large [Intel plant in Heredia] that also providesa significant portion of Costa Rica's GDP.
Alternative sources of energy, including geo-thermal and hydro-electric, can provide a majorityof needs of a country. Advances in technology to take advantage of these can be carried over to other countries.
Separating our recyclables, and other efforts, are not just unique to Costa Rica. The best practices developed here can be passed on to other countries as well.
As Costa Rica experiments with green incentives to help modify human behaviour, the ones thatseem most effective can be borrowed and re-used in other locations.
Hopefully, we've all learned something this week, and perhaps can act to reduce our energy consumption and environmental impact, throughout the year, not just on Earth Day. Let's strive to make this a Smarter Planet!
Continuing this week's theme on Earth Day, I am in San José, the capital of Costa Rica.
Despite all the talk I heard about how great Costa Rica was, ranked 5th in the world as one of thegreenest countries, I had a hard time breathing the air in San José.Here's a picture I took from my hotel in Escazú, which overlooks the city.
I have been to the [Top 5 smogiest cities in the world] --Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Cairo, New Dehli, and Shanghai-- and can say that San Jose,Costa Rica is nowhere near as bad as any of those, and more on par with cities in the United States, like Pittsburgh or Los Angeles.
Having a single government official in charge of both energy and environment means they can set pricesand provide incentives in one to benefit the other. Here are two examples:
Only 5 percent of the energy consumption of this county comes from oil. Despite having their own oilrepositories off-shore, the Costa Ricans have decided not to drill and ruin their pristine shoreline,but rather import from foreign sources.Gasoline prices are set high to include some of the environmental costs, about four dollars per gallon(800 Costa Rican Colones per liter). Cars can be converted to run on less expensive Propane orsugar cane Ethanol, but the conversions are cost-prohibitive for many.
Did it help? No, Traffic was like a parking lot. Part of this was the result of the main highway beingunder construction, forcing many people to take side streets.
Electricity is 13 US cents per KWh. My hotel in Escazu wanted an extra $8.50 US dollars per day to run theAir Conditioner. By comparison, my house in Tucson, Arizona is 1167 square feet, roughly five to six times the size of my hotel room, and my electricity bill is a flat 27 US dollars per month year round.
Did it help? No, most tourists just pay the extra cost. I tried one day with A/C, and the second day without, for scientific comparison, and decided to go without the rest of the time I was there. Perhaps being from Tucson, Arizona I can tolerate the 85-degree heat better than others.
So if incentives to conserve like high prices don't work, what will? I interviewed Alexandra,a local 24-year-old studying law at a nearby college:
Once you get your law degree, will you move to another country, such as the United States? --There are already too many lawyers in your country.
What about Japan or Asia, there is a shortage of lawyers there?-- No, I plan to stay here in my country. Costa Rica is beautiful, my friends and family are here, why would I leave?
So why do you think the incentives don't work to help people conserve gasoline and electricity? --People have to earn a living, and are focused on getting things done. If it can be done in a way that helps the environment, great, but otherwise life continues.
So will you specialize in "environmental" law? -- Not sure yet. Too early to say. Costa Rica is certainly leading the world in environmental protection, and much of this is through laws and tax schemes.
High prices don't serve well as incentives to reduce consumption, but perhaps national pride and working in an industry like agriculture or eco-tourism might.
This week I am in Costa Rica to celebrate[Earth Day] and promote IBM's [Smarter Planet strategy] to help solve the world's energy and environmental problems. This is thethird in the series. The first two posts were:
Here in Costa Rica, they separate their recyclables, and encourage even the hotel guests from other countries to do the same. See my photo on the left for an example.
This is more than most in the United States will do. We're lucky to get North Americans to just separate all recyclables in one bin separate from all trash in a second bin.
Leaving Arenal, I went to Escazu, a suburb of San Jose, the capital of this country. I met with Patrick, one of the owners of [Exclusive Excursions Travel] that helped me organize the eco-tourism portion of this trip to Costa Rica.
Most people are familiar with the [star rating system] that rank most hotels from one star (budget class/economy) to five stars (deluxe/luxury). The nicest hotel I've been to was the [Burj Al Arab] in Dubai, which claims a seven star rating. For eco-tourism, there is a similar "Green Leaf" rating system. According to Patrick,the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo [ICT] (tourism board of Costa Rica) rates hotels from one leaf (adopting some measures, like separating recyclables shown above) to five leaves (entirely carbon neutral).This Green Leaf system seems more important to European and Canadian tourists, but those from United States may not even be aware of it.
The food at these hotels vary. The typical dish here for breakfast, lunch and dinner is the Casado, consisting of mostly rice and beans. I have found thatCosta Rica has come up with as many creative ways to combine rice and beans in various proportions as Starbucks® serve various combinations of coffee and milk.The locals might be accustomed to a steady diet of rice and beans for every meal of every day, but those of us from North America aren't! Not counting tourist flatulence, Costa Rica has[pledged to be carbon neutral by 2021], the country's 200th birthday.
Sadly, most folks in the United States don't categorize their hotels with a Green Leaf rating system, nor do they even bother to categorize their recyclables. I spent 18 months in the field doing Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) assessments for clients, and most didn't categorize their data either.So, the next time you have some combination of coffee and milk, whether its a Latte, Misto, Espresso, or Macchiato, remember that the coffee came from acountry trying to be more environmentally responsible, grown by a farmerwho eats a simple diet of rice and beans, and has no problem separating different categories of recyclables. Perhaps you will remember to separate your data, and store it on an information infrastructure based on an environmentally-responsible combination of SSD, FC, SATA and tape, to reduce your costs and minimize your carbon footprint.
This week's theme is Earth Day and the importance IBM has placed on energy and environmental conservation. I am traveling through Costa Rica, ranked by Forbes as the fifth greenest and [cleanest countries in the world]. Europe was home to the top four in the survey of 149 countries, ledby Switzerland, and home to 14 of the top 20. Colombia came in ninth. United States was a pathetic 39th.
In yesterday's post, [Green Water for Green Energy], I covered geo-thermal energy with a visit to the hot springs.My next activity was a rafting trip down the Peñas Blancas and San Carlos rivers, heading towards Nicaragua, to discuss hydro-electric power. Half of the hydro-electric power in this country is driven directly by river flow, and the rest relies on stored water in lakes. Back in 2007, Costa Rica had a drought, and this affected the hydro-electric capacity, resulting in brown-outs and power outages. When more than 80 percent of your energy comes from this source, droughts can be devastating. Rain patterns for Costa Rica have a dry season from mid-December to April, lots of Rain in May and June, a "short summer" (called affectionately El Veranito) with little or no rain in July, and then more rain the rest of the year, averaging over 150 inches of rainfall per year.
This was billed as a "Safari Float" ride.The water level was low, "Class I", the slowest possible rating, giving our raft guide Pedro a chance to point out a variety of birds, monkeys, iguanas and crocodiles. Iguanas and Crocodiles are protected endangered species in Costa Rica, and are notsupposed to be killed for food or sport.
(Hint: don't bother, both taste like chicken)
Joining us in our raft is Pamela, the 9-year-old daughter of one of the employees of the rafting company, [Canoa Adventura]. This wastheir version of take-your-daughter-to-work-day, as her parents want her to learn the rafting business, and get accustomed around English-speaking tourists.
Along the way, we saw a bulldozer knocking down trees and scooping up the rich soil.Costa Ricans consider trees and soil as renewable resources, reducing the need to purchase foreign fossil-based oil for cooking and chemical fertilizers.The name of the country, Costa Rica, literally means "rich coast" in the Spanish language, and with a string of 112 volcanos, the silt has plenty of mineral content that is good for agriculture, from coffee and bananas, to sugar cane, oranges and African palm.
Midway down the river, we had an "energy stop" to rest from all the paddling. This involved a visit to Don Pedro's farm, he is 98 years old, has four daughters, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, the youngest of which just born 15 days ago. We had coffee, [fried plantaines], and Yucca cake. We have Yucca in Arizona as well. If you've ever seen a [Yucca] plant, you would never think to eat it, but it is a staple here. To make cake, just grate the Yucca root, mix in enough milk and sugar, and bake in a pie tin. The result has a consistency similar to coconut macaroons.
On the ride back, we stopped at the famous "Iguana bridge" where we could see up close and personal a dozen or so of these huge lizards. Our guide Marcos fed them some papaya. Agreat way to appreciate bio-diversity in action!
"These days, visitors can still see amazing biodiversity all over Costa Rica — more than 25 percent of the country is protected area — thanks to a unique system it set up to preserve its cornucopia of plants and animals. Many countries could learn a lot from this system.
More than any nation I’ve ever visited, Costa Rica is insisting that economic growth and environmentalism work together. It has created a holistic strategy to think about growth, one that demands that everything gets counted. So if a chemical factory sells tons of fertilizer but pollutes a river — or a farm sells bananas but destroys a carbon-absorbing and species-preserving forest — this is not honest growth. You have to pay for using nature. It is called “payment for environmental services” — nobody gets to treat climate, water, coral, fish and forests as free anymore.
The process began in the 1990s when Costa Rica, which sits at the intersection of two continents and two oceans, came to fully appreciate its incredible bounty of biodiversity — and that its economic future lay in protecting it. So it did something no country has ever done: It put energy, environment, mines and water all under one minister.
“In Costa Rica, the minister of environment sets the policy for energy, mines, water and natural resources,” explained Carlos M. Rodríguez, who served in that post from 2002 to 2006. In most countries, he noted, “ministers of environment are marginalized.” They are viewed as people who try to lock things away, not as people who create value. Their job is to fight energy ministers who just want to drill for cheap oil.
But when Costa Rica put one minister in charge of energy and environment, “it created a very different way of thinking about how to solve problems,” said Rodríguez, now a regional vice president for Conservation International. “The environment sector was able to influence the energy choices by saying: ‘Look, if you want cheap energy, the cheapest energy in the long-run is renewable energy. So let’s not think just about the next six months; let’s think out 25 years.’ ”
As a result, Costa Rica hugely invested in hydro-electric power, wind and geo-thermal, and today it gets more than 95 percent of its energy from these renewables. In 1985, it was 50 percent hydro, 50 percent oil. More interesting, Costa Rica discovered its own oil five years ago but decided to ban drilling — so as not to pollute its politics or environment! What country bans oil drilling?
Rodríguez also helped to pioneer the idea that in a country like Costa Rica, dependent on tourism and agriculture, the services provided by ecosystems were important drivers of growth and had to be paid for. Right now, most countries fail to account for the “externalities” of various economic activities. So when a factory, farmer or power plant pollutes the air or the river, destroys a wetland, depletes a fish stock or silts a river — making the water no longer usable — that cost is never added to your electric bill or to the price of your shoes.
Costa Rica took the view that landowners who keep their forests intact and their rivers clean should be paid, because the forests maintained the watersheds and kept the rivers free of silt — and that benefited dam owners, fishermen, farmers and eco-tour companies downstream. The forests also absorbed carbon."
I start my visit at Arenal, where there is a hydro-electric dam at Lake Arenal that produces electricity, a large volcano, and natural hot springs.I found [more stats on Costa Rica's energy consumption] that provide more details.
At left is a photo I took of the Volcano Arenal. This is just one of the 112 volcanoes in thecountry.
At the [Springs Resort and Spa], they have clear (chlorinated) swimming pools maintained at three different temperatures. I asked our guide,Alan, if the pools were being heated from the electricity generated from the dam at the lake.No, they use green water for green energy. Taking advantage of "geo-thermal" energy, the natural hot springs are run through a [Heat Exchanger], to heat the pools. The waters do not mix, keeping the clean water clean. The process is similar to IBM's [Rear Door Heat eXchanger].
Why don't people just soak directly in the green water directly? Alan responded, "You can certainly enjoy soaking in the green water, but I recommend you buy some storage, which will cost you extra, as a souvenir."
The storage, shown here at right, holds cash and credit cards with a water-tight seal. Normal pool water won'teffect cash or credit cards, and I have certainly seen people pay for food and drinks with soggy dollars in other places. This water is literally green, and perhaps not for everyone. How green is it? Think watered-down version of [split-pea soup] and you will have a close approximation.I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but am going to need some industrial-strength scum-and-lime remover to clean the glass face of my waterproof watch when I get back home.
Fortunately, I speak the Castellano dialect of Spanish that is spoken here in Costa Rica,and this will allow me to continue to gather more information about how Costa Rica leads the way in being more energy efficient and environmentally responsible.
I am proud to announce that fellow IBMer Carlos Pratt has launched a new IBM storage blog[GreenSpeed].
I'd like to expand a bit on how I know Carlos. Back in 1999 I was asked to lead a team at IBM Tucson to install Linux on our local z800 mainframe, and run tests to confirm that all of our IBM disk and tape storage offerings attached successfully. I was, at the time, lead architect for DFSMS on OS/390 and management felt that my knowledge of the S/390 instruction set was all that was needed to pull this off. My team was a collection of people from a variety of other hardware and software teams, and Carlos came over from the Disk Performance test team.
Needless to say, there were some challenges. The port of Red Hat and SUSE Linux over to the mainframe required special device drivers, and in some cases, we actually needed to make changes to the Linux kernel. While it was over 100 degrees outside, we were in the test lab wearing jackets with a refrigerator thermometer hanging on the wall to monitor our ice cold working conditions.
And of course, we had our internal skeptics. At the time, Linux was only a few percentage points of marketshare, and a few unenlightened souls did not see any reason to invest in support for a new operating system until it was more established. People with a "Wait-and-See" attitude don't last long at IBM. Fortunately, smarter heads prevailed, and now that Linux is well established as the operating system of the future, we can all look back and say "I told you so!"
Carlos was a "get things done" kind of guy. Working with frequent patches to the Linux kernel, device drivers under development, and a team fairly new to this new operating system, Carlos was able to provide the driving force to get our tests done.
An avid reader of this blog pointed me to a blog post [A Small Tec DIGG on IBM XIV], byGowri Ananthan, a System Engineer in Singapore.Basically, she covers past battles, er.. discussions between me and fellow blogger BarryB from EMC, and [blegs] foranswers to three questions.
Gowri, here are your answers:
Q1. Does IBM offer a Pay-as-you-Go [PAYGO] upgrade path for its IBM XIV disk storage system?
The concern was expressed as:
PAYGO also requires the customer to purchase the remaining capacity within 12 months of installation. So it is More of a 12-month installment plan than pay-as-you-grow.
A1. Actually, IBM offers several methods for your convenience:
With IBM's Capacity on Demand (CoD) plan, you get the full framewith 15 modules installed on your data center floor, but only pay for the first four modules 21 TB, then pay for 5.3TB module increments as you need them over the next 12 months. This is ideal for companies that don't know how fast they will grow, but do not want to wait for new modules to be delivered and installed when needed.
With IBM's Partial Rack offering, you can get a system with as little as six modules (27TB),and then over time, add more modules as you need. This does not have to be done within 12 months, you can stay at six modules for as long as you like, and you can take as long asyou want to add more modules. When you are ready for more capacity, the drawer or drawerscan be delivered, and installed non-disruptively.
Neither of these are "payment installment plans", but certainly if you want to spread yourcosts into regularly-scheduled monthlypayments across multiple years, IBM Global Financing can probably work something out.
Q2. Does IBM consider the XIV as green storage?
The concern was expressed as:
You are powering (8.4KW) and cooling all 180 drives for the whole duration, whether you're using the capacity or not. is it what you called Greener power usage..?
A2. Yes. IBM considers the IBM XIV as green storage. The 8.4KW per frame is lessthan the 10-plus KW that a comparable 2-frame EMC DMX-950 system would consume. Theenergy savings in IBM XIV comes from delivering FC-like speeds using slower SATA disks that rotate slower, and therefore take less energy to spin.
In the fully-populated or Capacity on Demand configuration, you would spin all 180disks. However, using the partial rack configuration, the 6-module has only 40 percent ofthe disks, and therefore consumes only 40 percent of the energy. If you don't plan to storeat least 20-30 TB, you might consider the DS3000, DS4000, DS5000, or DS8000 disk system instead.
Q3. How do you connect more than 24 host ports to an IBM XIV?
The concern was expressed as:
And finally do not forget my question on 24-FC Ports… Up to 24 Fiber Channel ports offering 4 Gbps, 2Gbps or 1 Gbps multi-mode and single-mode support.Stop.. stop.. how you gonna squeeze existing bunch of FC cables in 24 ports?
A3. Best practices suggest that if you have ten or more physical servers, each with two separate FC ports, then you should use a SAN switch or director in between. If you require four ports per server, then you would need a SAN switch beyond six servers to connect to the IBM XIV. If you consider that 24 FC ports, at 4Gbps, represents nearly 10 GB/sec of bandwidth, you will recognize that this is not a performance bottleneck for the system.
I’ve just returned from the IBM Tivoli Pulse conference in Las Vegas – a meeting of over 4000 customers, partners, and IBM employees. ... There was a lot to digest, but three of the major themes caught my attention, and my imagination. ... First, IBM put a huge push behind their Dynamic Infrastructure initiative. Sounds like so many other automation and autonomic initiatives of the past, right? Well, things are getting better, and “dynamic” is becoming more of a realistic possibility, especially with the emergence of cloud computing and cloud services models. ... Second, a lot of time was spent on IBM’s Service Management Industry Solutions. When I first heard of this, my thought was that IBM was creating solutions for the Service Management industry (i.e. food services, janitorial services, hospitality services). But this is much larger than that – much, much larger. IBM is taking their unique ability to pair business (non-IT) expertise with IT consulting, planning, and technology delivery, and constructing (careful – here comes the “f” word) frameworks for several vertical industry segments. ... IBM is perhaps the only organization in the world that can take this on fully and hope to deliver a meaningful result. But beyond that, this represents a huge opportunity for IT professionals to become the transformation agents within their own organizations, contributing at a whole new level. ... Lastly, I was really impressed by IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative. The primary thought here was that the key to a greener planet is to take inefficiencies out of just about every form of business through the intelligent application and deployment of technology. At first I was thinking this was just another marketing initiative, but in the course of this event, listening to the keynotes and talking to a number of IBM execs, it became apparent that this is a substantial cultural shift within IBM itself. Just think about that for a moment – when 400,000 employees all change their direction and focus, their sheer mass is going to make a noticeable difference. ... Magic (Johnson) gave an excellent talk, and reminded the audience that you should do two things no matter what your job or role. First, service starts with knowing your customers – not just who they are, but what they do and what is important to them. And second – always over-deliver. Go that extra step. Exceed expectations. The boost in loyalty, goodwill, and improved customer relationships will be well worth the effort. Good thoughts to keep with us….
If you missed Pulse 2009, perhaps because your company has put a clamp down on travel expenses, you are in luck! IBM is hosting the "Dynamic Infrastructure Forum" March 3-4, 2009, on your computer. This is an IBM Virtual event, no travel required! [Register Today!]
Now that IBM XIV has proven that 1TB SATA are safe for high-end tier-1 enterprise class use, we extended DS8000 support to include SATA support also. DS8000 supports RAID-6 and RAID-10 for these.
Intelligent Write Caching
IBM Research conducts extensive investigations into improved algorithms for cache management. Intelligent Write Caching boosts performance for both temporal and spatial locality.
Remote Pair FlashCopy®
This allows you to FlashCopy volume A to volume B, with Volume B remotely mirrored to Volume C at a secondary location, via Metro Mirror. This allows you to have a consistent copy of your data at both locations.
IBM was the first in the industry to deliver tape-drive encryption, so it makes sense that IBM is also the first in the industry to deliver disk-drive encryption. These are 15K rpm drives in standard 146GB, 300GB and 450GB capacities. As with tape, encrypting at the disk device eliminates the huge overhead from server-based encryption methods.
Solid State Drive (SSD)
You can also have Solid State Disk drives in your DS8000, in 73GB and 146GB capacities, protected by RAID-5.If you are wondering what data to put on these much-faster drives, IBM has taken the work and worry out by havingintelligence in DB2 to optimize what gets placed on SSD to get the most performance improvement.
IBM System Storage XIV
Continuing the incredible marketplace excitement over its Cloud-Opimized Storage[XIV series], IBM now has announced[new capacity options]. The IBM XIV R2 that we announced last August 2008 was a fixed 15 module configuration. In thenew configurations, you can start with as little as six modules, representing a 40% partial rack of the originalfull model. Here is a table that shows the details:
Useable Capacity (TB)
Fibre Channel Ports
Cache Memory (GB)
IBM System Storage N series
And last, but not least, we have two new models in IBM's[N6000 series].The [N6060]has model A12 (single controller) and model A22 (dual controller). These are disk-less controllers thatyou can configure in either appliance mode or gateway mode. In appliance mode, you can attachdisk drawers such as the EXN1000, EXN2000 or EXN4000. In gateway mode, you attach external disk systems, suchas the IBM DS8000 or XIV above.
It's ruggedized to handle earthquakes. IBM brings a feature that we've had for a while on other disk systems to the N series with a collection of bolts and anchors to secure the rack from physical tremors.
It's instrumented for IBM Active Energy Manager, a component of IBM Systems Director. New iPDUs are designed to help measure and monitor energy management components. As companies get more concerned about thefate of the planet, monitoring energy consumption can help reduce carbon footprint.
I'll cover the rest of the announcements tomorrow!
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:
Wrapping up this week's theme on ways to make the planet smarter, and less confusing, I present IBM's third annual [five in five]. These are five IBM innovations to watch over the next five years, all of which have implications on information storage. Here is a quick [3-minute video] that provides the highlights:
It's Thursday here at the [Data Center Conference] here in Las Vegas. Trying to keep up with all the sessions and activities has been quite challenging. As is often the case, there are more sessions that I want to attend than I physically am able to, so have to pick and choose.
Making the Green Data Center a Reality
The sixth and final keynote was an expert panel session, with Mark Bramfitt from Pacific Gas and Electric [PG&E], and Mark Thiele from VMware.
Mark explained PG&E's incentive program to help data centers be more energyefficient. They have spent $7 million US dollars so far on this, and he has requested another$50 million US dollars over the next three years. One idea was to put "shells" aroundeach pod of 28 or so cabinets to funnel the hot air up to the ceiling, rather than havingthe hot air warm up the rest of the cold air supply.
The fundamental disconnect for a "green" data center is that the Facilities team pay for the electricity, but it is the IT department that makes decisions that impact its use. The PG&E rebates reward IT departments for making better decisions. The best metric available is"Power Usage Effectiveness" or [PUE], which is calculated by dividing total energy consumed in the data center, divided by energy consumed by the IT equipment itself.Typical PUE runs around 3.0 which means for every Watt used for servers, storage or network switches, another 2 Watts are used for power, cooling, and facilities. Companies are tryingto reduce their PUE down to 1.6 or so. The lower the better, and 1.0 is the ideal.The problem is that changing the data center infrastructure is as difficult as replacingthe phone system or your primary ERP application.
While California has [Title 24], stating energy efficiency standards for both residential and commercial buildings, it does notapply to data centers. PG&E is working to add data center standards into this legislation.
The two speakers also covered Data Center [bogeymans], unsubstantiated myths that prevent IT departments fromdoing the right thing. Here are a few examples:
Power cycles - some people believe that x86 servers can typically only handle up to 3000 shutdowns, and so equipment is often left running 24 hours a day to minimize these. Most equipment is kept less than 5 years (1826 days), so turning off non-essential equipment at night, and powering it back on the next morning, is well below this 3000 limit and can greatly reduce kWh.
Dust - many are so concerned about dust that they run extra air-filters which impactsthe efficiency of cooling systems air flow. New IT equipment tolerates dust much betterthan older equipment.
Humidity - Mark had a great story on this one. He said their "de-humidifier" broke,and they never got around to fixing it, and they went years without it, realizing they didn't need to de-humidify.
The session wrapped up with some "low hanging fruit", items that can provide immediate benefit with little effort:
Cold-aisle containment--Why are so few data centers doing this?
Colocation providers need to meter individual clients' energy usage -- IBM offers the instrumentation and software to make this possible
Air flow management--Simply organizing cables under the floor tiles could help this.
Virtualization and Consolidation.
High-efficiency power supplies
Managing IT from a Business Service Perspective
The "other" future of the data center is to manage it as a set of integrated IT services,rather than a collection of servers, storage and switches.IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is widely-accepted as a set of best practices to accomplish this "service management" approach. The presenter from ASG Software Solutions presented their Configuration Management Data Base (CMDB) and application dependency dashboard. Theyhave some customers with as many as 200,000 configuration items (CIs) in their CMDB.
The solution looked similar to the IBM Tivoli software stack presented earlier this yearat the [Pulse conference].Both ASG and IBM "eat their own dog food", or perhaps more accurately "drink their own champagne", using these software products to run their own internal IT operations.
For many, the future of a "green" data center managed as a set of integrated service are years away, but the technologies and products are available today, and there is no reasonto postpone these projects any longer than necessary. For more about IBM's approach togreen data center, see [Energy EfficiencySolutions]. You can also take IBM's[IT Service Management self-assessment] to help determine whichIBM tools you need for your situation.
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.
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!
There's some good discussion in the comments section over at Robin Harris' StorageMojo blog for hispost [Building a 1.8 Exabyte Data Center].To summarize, a student is working on a research archive and asked Robin Harris for his opinion. The archive will consist of 20-40 million files averaging 90 GB in size each, for a total of 1800 PB or 1.8 EB. By comparison, anIBM DS8300 with five frames tops out at 512TB, so it would take nearly 3600 of these to hold 1.8 EB. While this might seem like a ridiculous amount of data, I think the discussion is valid as our world is certainly headed in that direction.
IBM works with a lot of research firms, and the solution is to put most of this data on tape, with just enough disk for specific analysis. Robin mentions a configurion with Sun Fire 4540 disk systems (aka Thumper). Despite Sun Microsystems' recent [$1.7 Billion dollar quarterly loss], I think even the experts at Sun would recommend a blended disk-and-tape solution for this situation.
Take for example IBM's Scale Out File Services [SoFS] which today handles 2-3 billion files in a single global file system, so 20-40 million would present no problem. SoFS supports a mix of disk and tape, with built-in movement, so that files that were referenced would automatically be moved to disk when needed, and moved back to tape when no longer required, based on policies set by the administrator. Depending on the analysis, you may only need 1 PB or less of disk to perform the work, which can easily be accomplished with a handful of disk systems, such as IBM DS8300 or IBM XIV, for example.
The rest would be on tape. Let's consider using the IBM TS3500 with [S24 High Density] frames. A singleTS3500 tape library with fifteen of these HD frames could hold 45PB of data, assuming 3:1 compression on 1TB-size 3592 cartridges. You wouldneed 40 (forty) of these libraries to get to the full 1800 PB required, and these could hold even more as higher capacity cartridges are developed. IBM has customers with over 40 tape libraries today (not all with these HD frames, of course), but the dimensions and scale that IBM is capable lies within this scope.
(For LTO fans, fifteen S54 frames would hold 32PB of data, assuming 2:1 compression on 800GB-size LTO-4 cartridges.so you would need 57 libraries instead of 40 in the above example.)
This blended disk-and-tape approach would drastically reduce the floorspace and electricity requirements when compared against all-disk configurations discussed in the post.
People are rediscovering tape in a whole new light. ComputerWorld recently came out with an 11-page Technology Brief titled [The Business Value of Tape Storage],sponsored by Dell. (Note: While Dell is a competitor to IBM for some aspects of their business, they OEM their tape storage systems from IBM, so in that respect, I can refer to them as a technology partner.) Here are some excerpts from the ComputerWorld brief:
For IT managers, the question isnot whether to use tape, but whereand how to best use tape as part of acomprehensive, tiered storage architecture.In the modern storage architecture,tape plays a role not onlyin data backup, but also in long-termarchiving and compliance.
“Long-term archiving is the primaryreason any company shoulduse tape these days,” says MikeKarp, senior analyst at EnterpriseManagement Associates in Boulder,Colo. Companies are increasinglylikely to use disk in conjunctionwith tape for backup, but for long-termarchiving needs, tape remainsunbeatable.
After factoring inacquisition costs of equipment andmedia, as well as electricity and datacenter floor space, Clipper Groupfound that the total cost of archivingsolutions based on SATA disk, theleast expensive disk, was up to 23times more expensive than archivingsolutions involving tape. Calculatingenergy costs for the competing approaches,the costs for disk jumpedto 290 times that of tape.
“Tape isalways the winner anywhere costtrumps anything else,” says Karp.No matter how the cost is figured,tape is less expensive.
Beyond IT familiarity with tape,analysts point to other reasons whyorganizations will likely keep tapein their IT storage infrastructures.Energy savings, for example, is themost recent reason to stick withtape. “The economics of tape arepretty compelling, especially whenyou figure in the cost of power,”Schulz says.
So, whether you are planning for an Exabyte-scale data center, or merely questioning the logic of a disk-for-everything storage approach, you might want to consider tape. It's "green" for the environment, and less expensive on your budget.