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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This week, I will be in Las Vegas for the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. For those on Twitter, follow the conference on hashtag #GartnerDC, and follow me at [@az990tony]. IBM is a Global Partner and Platinum Sponsor for this event. Here is a recap of some of the Monday morning keynote sessions:
Welcome and Introduction
Monday morning kicked off with a welcome introduction from the conference coordinators. This is the highest attendance for this conference in its 30 year history, with 60 percent of the attending for their first time, and 18 percent only once before. This is the fourth time I am attending. Half of the attendees represent corporations with 20,000 employees or more, the other half from smaller companies and government agencies. The top five industries represented are financial services, public sector, healthcare, manufacturing, and energy.
This conference uses a clever "interactive polling" where hand-held devices can be used to select choices, and results of over 800 voters are presented immediately on the big screen.
For IT budgets, 42 percent plan to increase next year, 32 percent flat, and 26 percent lower, which are similar to the numbers last year. Of nine different IT challenges, the top three were managing storage growth, power/cooling issues, and adopting a Cloud strategy.
Top 10 Trends and how they will impact Data Center IT
The analyst presented top 10 business, technology and societal trends that will impact IT. He added a last-minute eleventh issue that he felt will impact everyone in 2012:
Consumerization and the Tablet. Back in 1997, a GB of flash memory cost $7,992 US dollars, and today that same GB costs only 25 cents. Employees are bringing their own devices to the workplace, and expecting IT support.
Infinite Data Center. You may never have to expand your floorspace again. Improvements in server and storage density can allow you to continually upgrade in place.
Energy Management. Data centers consume 100x more energy than the offices they support. The cost of energy is on part with IT equipment. Energy management is becoming an enterprise-wide discipline. A key performance indicator (KPI) can be "compute per kW" or "compute per Square foot".
Context Awareness. There are hundreds of thousands of apps for Android-based smart phones and iPhones. Context awareness allows an app to help business travelers in airports know what restaurants are nearby, their flight status, and alternate flights available, based entirely on their location.
Hybrid Clouds. By 2013, over 60 percent of cloud adoption will be to redeploy existing apps like email. Some 80 percent of cloud initiatives will be private or hybrid configurations. Customers want "good enough" technology, and thus Cloud will be mostly an augmentation strategy.
Fabric Computing. The opposite of fully-integrated stacks is the notion of having compute, memory and storage joined together via an interconnect fabric with software to manage the entire environment.
IT Complexity. Robert Glass's Law states that for every 25 percent increase in functionality, there is a 100 percent increase in complexity. See Roger Session's whitepaper [The IT Complexity Crisis: Danger and Opportunity] for more on this.
Patterns and Analytics. Big data and business analytics is a key platform. This is expected to grow 60 percent CAGR.
Impact of Virtualization. Virtualizing your environment should be considered a continuous process, not a one-time project. Many companies are running x86 servers at less than 55 percent, which the speaker considers under-utilized. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a trade-off, may cost more but have other business benefits to consider. The problem is that many IT shops are organized vertially (a server team, storage team, network team) but problems surface horizontally, and there is no "ownership" for the resolution. Some use "tiger teams" to address this. Companies should reward lateral thinking.
Social Media. Of the ommunications on cell phones by college students, 98.4 percent are text messages, and only 1.6 percent voice phone calls. People search Google for "what was", but they search Twitter for "what is". Most of the growth on Twitter are in the 39-52 year-old demographic. The analyst felt that if your company is blocking or restricting access to facebook, twitter, youtube or other social networking sites, then shame on you. I agree!
Flooding in Thailand. Over two million square feet of HDD production space were flooded, and this will impact HDD prices for 2012. Already, a 2TB drive that was selling for $79 at local store is now selling for $190.
How To Get Your CFO's Support For Strategy and Funding
In the first of a series of "mastermind interviews", the analyst interviewed their own CFO Chris Lafond. Ultimately, it is about business results. They have grown annual 15-20 percent, from 250 million in 2003 to 1.3 billion US dollars in 2011 for annual revenue, 4600 employees, doing business in 85 countries. The company is focused on three business areas: Research, Consulting, and Events like this one. Chris does not approve 3-5 year projects, and instead requests projects be broken up into year-long phases. ROI can be very misleading, and he asks instead for benefits and contributions to initiatives.
It is important to keep the horse in front of the cart. Accounting departments should not drive business decisions. For example, companies should not move to the public cloud just so that the accounting department can shift from CAPex to OPex. Try to depreciate as soon as possible. Likewise, green technologies and social responsibility are factors, but not drivers of business decisions. Acquisitions are a natural evolution of the market, so risk mitigation strategies should be in place in case your vendor of choice is acquired by someone you don't like.
For BC/DR planning, the analyst has a single Data Center approach, but Chris indicated that IT is looking to expand this. Their single datacenter for one part of their business was in Florida, and the other in Massachusetts, and both impacted by Hurricanes or Earthquakes recently.
The "lightning round" asked Chris his thoughts, either thumbs up, thumbs down, or neutral, on single ideas or concepts. I liked this part of the interview!
Chargeback? Thumbs down. He doesn't feel you should have internal fighting over charge rates. He prefers showback instead.
BYO Device with stipend? Thumbs down, but inevitable. Giving people a chunk of money to buy their own laptop, smart phone or tablet of choice may wreak havoc on the IT department for support and service.
Telepresence? Thumbs down. Cool, but very expensive. I don't think people are prepared to exploit the benefits of this.
Corporate apps on public "app stores"? Thumbs down. Concerns over security and integration is main issue.
Access to Social Networks? Thumbs up. This is how employees communicate and collaborate. Don't stifle them doing the right things just because you are afraid they might waste 20 minutes on Facebook per day.
Your IT budget? It's up slightly 1-5 percent for 2012.
Cloud? Promising, some challenges related to integration and security.
Chris finished up with a story about an application team that indicated that they would need to make 100 customizations to an off-the-shelf general ledger financial application. Chris and the other executives asked to be presented each and every customization, and he was able to eliminate most of them.
Positive comments I heard from the audience was that these keynotes had real "meat" to them, and not just full of cliches and platitudes that is common for keynote sessions. I would have to agree.
Jim is an IBM Fellow for IBM Systems and Technology Group. There are only 73 IBM Fellows currently working for IBM, and this is the highest honor IBM can bestow on an employee. He has been working with IBM since 1968.
He is tasked with predicting the future of IT, and help drive strategic direction for IBM. Cost pressures, requirements for growth, accelerating innovation and changing business needs help influence this direction.
IBM's approach is to integrate four different "IT building blocks":
Scale-up Systems, like the IBM System Storage DS8000 and TS3500 Tape Library
Resource Pools, such as IBM Storage Pools formed from managed disks by IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC)
Integrated stacks and appliances, integrated software and hardware stacks, from Storwize V7000 to full rack systems like IBM Smart Analytics Server or CloudBurst.
Mobility of workloads and resources requires unified end-to-end service management. Fortunately, IBM is the #1 leader in IT Service Management solutions.
Jim addressed three myths:
Myth 1: IT Infrastructures will be homogenous.
Jim feels that innovations are happening too rapidly for this to ever happen, and is not a desirable end-goal. Instead, a focus to find the right balance of the IT building blocks might be a better approach.
Myth 2: All of your problems can be solved by replacing everything with product X.
Jim feels that the days of "rip-and-replace" are fading away. As IBM Executive Steve Mills said, "It isn't about the next new thing, but how well new things integrate with established applications and processes."
Myth 3: All IT will move to the Cloud model.
Jim feels a substantial portion of IT will move to the Cloud, but not all of it. There will always be exceptions where the old traditional ways of doing things might be appropriate. Clouds are just one of the many building blocks to choose from.
Jim's focus lately has been finding new ways to take advantage of virtualization concepts. Server, storage and network virtualization are helping address these challenges through four key methods:
Sharing - virtualization that allows a single resource to be used by multiple users. For example, hypervisors allow several guest VM operating systems share common hardware on a single physical server.
Aggregation - virtualization that allows multiple resources to be managed as a single pool. For example, SAN Volume Controller can virtualize the storage of multiple disk arrays and create a single storage pool.
Emulation - virtualization that allows one set of resources to look and feel like a different set of resources. Some hypervisors can emulate different kinds of CPU processors, for example.
Insulation - virtualization that hides the complexity from the end-user application or other higher levels of infrastructure, making it easier to make changes of the underlying managed resources. For example, both SONAS and SAN Volume Controller allow disk capacity to be removed and replaced without disruption to the application.
In today's economy, IT transformation costs must be low enough to yield near-term benefits. The long-term benefits are real, but near-term benefits are needed for projects to get started.
What set's IBM ahead of the pack? Here was Jim's list:
100 Years of Innovation, including being the U.S. Patent leader for the last 18 years in a row
IBM's huge investment in IBM Research, with labs all over the globe
Leadership products in a broad portfolio
Workload-optimized designs with integration from middleware all the way down to underlying hardware
Comprehensive management software for IBM and non-IBM equipment
Clod is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Strategist for IBM System Storage. His presentation focused on trends and directions in the IT storage industry. Clod started with five workload categories:
To address these unique workload categories, IBM will offer workload-optimized systems. The four drivers on the design for these are performance, efficiency, scalability, and integration. For example, to address performance, companies can adopt Solid-State Drives (SSD). Unfortunately, these are 20 times more expensive dollar-per-GB than spinning disk, and the complexity involved in deciding what data to place on SSD was daunting. IBM solved this with an elegant solution called IBM System Storage Easy Tier, which provides automated data tiering for IBM DS8000, SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Storwize V7000.
For scalability, IBM has adopted Scale-Out architectures, as seen in the XIV, SVC, and SONAS. SONAS is based on the highly scalable IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS). File systems are like wine, they get better with age. GPFS was introduced 15 years ago, and is more mature than many of the other "scalable file systems" from our competition.
Areal Density advancements on Hard Disk Drives (HDD) are slowing down. During the 1990s, the IT industry enjoyed 60 to 100 percent annual improvement in areal density (bits per square inch). In the 2000s, this dropped to 25 to 40 percent, as engineers are starting to hit various physical limitations.
Storage Efficiency features like compression have been around for a while, but are being deployed in new ways. For example, IBM invented WAN compression needed for Mainframe HASP. WAN compression became industry standard. Then IBM introduced compression on tape, and now compression on tape is an industry standard. ProtecTIER and Information Archive are able to combine compression with data deduplication to store backups and archive copies. Lastly, IBM now offers compression on primary data, through the IBM Real-Time Compression appliance.
For the rest of this decade, IBM predicts that tape will continue to enjoy (at least) 10 times lower dollar-per-GB than the least expensive spinning disk. Disk and Tape share common technologies, so all of the R&D investment for these products apply to both types of storage media.
For integration, IBM is leading the effort to help companies converge their SAN and LAN networks. By 2015, Clod predicts that there will be more FCoE purchased than FCP. IBM is also driving integration between hypervisors and storage virtualization. For example, IBM already supports VMware API for Array Integration (VAAI) in various storage products, including XIV, SVC and Storwize V7000.
Lastly, Clod could not finish a presentation without mentioning Cloud Computing. Cloud storage is expected to grow 32 percent CAGR from year 2010 to 2015. Roughly 10 percent of all servers and storage will be in some type of cloud by 2015.
As is often the case, I am torn between getting short posts out in a timely manner versus spending some more time to improve the length and quality of information, but posted much later. I will spread out the blog posts in consumable amounts throughout the next week or two, to achieve this balance.
A reader from New Zealand expressed concern some corporate bloggers were [using the earthquake for marketing]. He lost someone close to him in Christchurch, and is unable to reach a friend living in Japan, so I am sorry for his loss. I plan to be in Australia and New Zealand to teach a Top Gun class May 15-27, so hopefully I will be able to meet him in person when I am down there.
"Earmarking funds is a really good way of hobbling relief organizations and ensuring that they have to leave large piles of money unspent in one place while facing urgent needs in other places. ... Meanwhile, the smaller and less visible emergencies where NGOs can do the most good are left unfunded.
In the specific case of Japan, there's all the more reason not to donate money. Japan is a wealthy country which is responding to the disaster, among other things, by printing hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of new money."
Another reader mentioned that the last surviving American WW-II vet died the same week. WTF? IBM and Japan have been allies for quite a while now, and there is no reason to bring up past wars except to compare the scope and magnitude of the cleanup effort. (Update: Frank Buckles was the last surviving WW-I vet, but also served in WW-II).
Many readers felt that charity begins at home, and there are plenty of worthy causes right here in the USA to donate to instead. Inspired by last year's movie [Waiting for Superman], my girlfriend started a project called [Centers for My Super Stars] for her first grade class on DonorsChoose.org. For those not familiar with this website, DonorsChoose.org uses the cloud to connect school teachers in need of supplies with rich people to donate funds towards these projects. If you want to contribute to her project, [donate here].
"And speaking of class, there just happens to be a baseball team in Sendai, Japan. The Golden Eagles. Their stadium was severely damaged from the earthquake. Wouldn't you think some of them lug nuts who run American baseball would bring the Golden Eagles and their opponents over to the United States when the Japanese season starts -- play some games over here and raise money to help the Japanese? Wouldn't you think they could just once stop that national pastime stuff and help the international pastime?"
As you can see, different readers have different opinions on this. We are all on this world together, and both our economy and our ecology are more interconnected than you might think. Let's build a smarter planet.
Continuing my coverage of last week's Data Center Conference 2009, my last breakout session of the week was an analyst presentation on Solid State Drive (SSD) technology. There are two different classes of SSD, consumer grade multi-level cell (MLC) running currently at $2 US dollars per GB, and Enterprise grade single-level cell (SLC) running at $4.50 US dollars per GB. Roughly 80 to 90 percent of the SSD is used in consumer use cases, such as digital cameras, cell phones, mobile devices, USB sticks, camcorders, media players, gaming devices and automotive.
While the two classes are different, the large R&D budgets spent on consumer grade MLC carry forward to help out enterprise grade SLC as well. SLC means there is a single level for each cell, so each cell can only hold a single bit of data, a one or a zero. MLC means the cell can hold multiple levels of charge, each representing a different value. Typically MLC can hold 3 to 4 bits of data per cell.
Back in 1997, SLC Enterprise Grade SSD cost roughly $7870 per GB. By 2013, Consumer Grade 4-bit MLC is expected to be only 24 cents per GB. Engineers are working on trade-offs between endurance cycles and retention periods. FLASH management software is the key differentiator, such as clever wear-leveling algorithms.
SSD is 10-15 times more expensive than spinning hard disk drives (HDD), and this price difference is expected to continue for a while. This is because of production volumes. In 4Q09, manufacturers will manufacturer 50 Exabytes of HDD, but only 2 Exabytes of SSD. The analyst thinks that SSD will only be roughly 2 percent of the total SAN storage deployed over the next few years.
How well did the audience know about SSD technology?
4 percent not at all
30 percent some awareness
30 percent enough to make purchase decision
21 percent able to quantify benefits and trade-offs
15 percent experts
SSD does not change the design objectives of disk systems. We want disk systems that are more scalable and have higher performance. We want to fully utilize our investment. We want intelligent self-management similar to caching algorithms. We want an extensible architecture.
What will happen to fast Fibre Channel drives? Take out your Mayan calendar. Already 84mm 10K RPM drives are end of life (EOL) in 2009. The analyst expects 67mm and 70mm 10K drives will EOL in 2010, and that 15K will EOL by 2012. A lot of this is because HDD performance has not kept up with CPU advancements, resulting in an I/O bottleneck. SSD is roughly 10x slower than DRAM, and some architectures use SSD as a cache extension. The IBM N series PAM II card and Sun 7000 series being two examples.
Let's take a look at a disk system with 120 drives, comparing 73GB HDD's versus 32GB SSD's.
per HDD drive
per SSD drive
There are various use cases for SSD. These include internal DAS, stand-alone Tier 0 storage, replace or complement HDD in disk arrays, and as an extension of read cache or write cache. The analyst believes there will be mixed MLC/SLC devices that will allow for mixed workloads. His recommendations:
Use SSD to eliminate performance and throughput bottlenecks
Consolidate workloads to maximize value
Use SLAs to identify workload candidates
Evaluate emerging technologies along with established vendors
Do not expect SSD to drastically reduce power/cooling
SSD will continue to complement HDD, primarily SATA disk
Trust but verify, check out customer references offered by storage vendors