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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.
I have been working on Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) since before they coined the phrase. There were several break-out sessions on the third day at the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011] related to new twists to ILM.
The Intelligent Storage Service Catalog (ISSC) and Smarter ILM
Hans Ammitzboll, Solution Rep for IBM Global Technology Services (GTS), presented an approach to ILM focused on using different storage products for different tiers. Is this new? Not at all! The original use of the phrase "Information Lifecycle Management" was coined in the early 1990s by StorageTek to help sell automated tape libraries.
Unfortunately, disk-only vendors started using the term ILM to refer to disk-to-disk tiering inside the disk array. Hans feels it does not make sense to put the least expensive penny-per-GB 7200 RPM disk inside the most expense enterprise-class high-end disk arrays.
IBM GTS manages not only IBM's internal operations, but the IT operations of hundreds of other clients. To help manage all this storage, they developed software to supplement reporting, monitoring and movement of data from one tier to another.
The Intelligent Storage Service Catalog (ISSC) can save up to 80 percent of planning time for managing storage. What did people use before? Hans poked fun at chargeback and showback systems that "offer savings" but don't actually "impose savings". He referred to these as Name-and-Shame, where the top 10 offenders of storage usage.
His storage pyramid involves a variety of devices, with IBM DS8000, SVC and XIV for the high-end, midrange disk like Storwize V7000, and blended disk-and-tape solutions like SONAS and Information Archive (IA) for the lower tiers.
Mark Taylor, IBM Advanced Technical Services, presented the policy-driven automation of IBM's Scale-Out NAS (SONAS). A SONAS system can hold 1 to 256 file systems, and each file system is further divided into fileset containers. Think of fileset containers like 'tree branches' of the file system.es.
SONAS supports policies for file placement, file movement, and file deletion. These are SQL-like statements that are then applied to specific file systems in the SONAS. Input variables include date last modified, date last accessed, file name, file size, fileset container name, user id and group id. You can choose to have the rules be case-sensitive or case-insensitive. The rules support macros. A macro pre-processor can help simplify calculations and other definitions that are used repeatedly.
Each file system in SONAS consists of one or more storage pools. For file systems with multiple pools, file placement policies can determine which pool to place each file. Normally, when a set of files are in a specific sub-directory on other NAS systems, all the files will be on the same type of disk. With SONAS, some files can be placed on 15K RPM drives, and other files on slower 7200 RPM drives. This file virtualization separates the logical grouping of files from the physical placement of them.
Once files are placed, other policies can be written to migrate from one disk pool to another, migrate from disk to tape, or delete the file. Migrating from one disk pool to another is done by relocation. The next time the file is accessed, it will be accessed directly from the new pool. When migrating from disk to tape, a stub is left in the directory structure metadata, so that subsequent access will cause the file to be recalled automatically from tape, back to disk. Policies can determine which storage pool files are recalled to when this happens.
Migrating from disk to tape involves sending the data from SONAS to external storage pool manager, such as IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) server connected to a tape library. SONAS supports pre-migration, which allows the data to be copied to tape, but left on disk, until space is needed to be freed up. For example, a policy with THRESHOLD(90,70,50) will kick in when the file system is 90 percent full, file will be migrated (moved) to tape until it reaches 70 percent, and then files will be pre-migrated (copied) to tape until it reaches 50 percent.
Policies to delete files can apply to both disk and tape pools. Files deleted on tape remove the stub from the directory structure metadata and notify the external storage pool manager to clean up its records for the tape data.
If this all sounds like a radically new way of managing data, it isn't. Many of these functions are based on IBM's Data Facility Storage Management Subsystem (DFSMS) for the mainframe. In effect, SONAS brings mainframe-class functionality to distributed systems.
Understanding IBM SONAS Use Cases
For many, the concept of a scale-out NAS is new. Stephen Edel, IBM SONAS product offering manager, presented a variety of use cases where SONAS has been successful.
First, let's consider backup. IBM SONAS has built-in support for Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), as well as supporting the NDMP industry standard protocol, for use with Symantec NetBackup, Commvault Simpana, and EMC Legato Networker. While many NAS solutions support NDMP, IBM SONAS can support up to 128 session per interface node, and up to 30 interface nodes, for parallel processing. SONAS has a high-speed file scan to identify files to be backed up, and will pre-fetch the small files into cache to speed up the backup process. A SONAS system can support up to 256 systems, and each file system can be backed up on its own unique schedule if you like. Different file systems can be backed up to different backup servers.
SONAS also has anti-virus support, with your choice of Symantec or McAfee. An anti-virus scan can be run on demand, as needed, or as files are individually accessed. When a Windows client reads a file, SONAS will determine if it has been already scanned with the most recent anti-virus signatures, and if not, will scan before allowing the file to be read. SONAS will also scan new files created.
Successful SONAS deployments addressed the following workloads:
content capture including video capture
high performance computing, research and business analytics
"Cheap and Deep" archive
worldwide information exchange and geographically distant collaboration
SONAS is selling well in Government, Universities, Healthcare, and Media/Entertainment, but is not limited to these industries. It can be used for private cloud deployments and public cloud deployments. Having centralized management for Petabytes of data can be cost-effective either way.
IBM SONAS brings the latest techologies to bring a Smarter ILM to a variety of workloads and use cases.
Wrapping up my post-week coverage of the [Data Center 2010 conference], I stuck through the end to get my money's worth at this conference. As the morning went on, it became obvious many people booked flights or started their weekends prior to the official 3:15pm ending of the last day.
Strategies for Data Life Cycle Management
I prefer the term "Information Lifecycle Management", but the two analysts presenting decided to use DLM instead. Let's start with the biggest challenge faced by the audience.
The problem is not meeting Service Level Agreements (SLA) but Service Level Expectations. When looking at the real business value of IT, you should link IT strategy to business outcomes and directives, align with your CIO's pet initiatives, and position storage as a technology supporting IT Directors goals. Here were the top five goals:
Curtailing Storage Sprawl
Compliance and e-Discovery
Improving Service Levels for Data Availability and Protection
Moving to Cloud Computing
The analysts reviewed both a "Tops Down" and "Bottoms Up" approach. They recommend what they call an "Enterprise Infomration Archive" (what IBM calls Smart Archive, by the way) that provides a better understanding of all data.
No greater lie has been told than "Storage is Cheap". Currently, only 10 percent of companies hvae a formal "deletion policy", but the analysts predict this will rise to 50 percent by 2013.
The "Bottoms Up" approach is focused on modernizing the data center at the storage technology level. There has been a resurgence in interest in ILM solutions, implementing storage tiers, and storage efficiency features like thin provisioning, data deduplication and real-time compression. Cloud Computing can help off-load this effort to someone else.
ILM provides real business value, such as reduce costs, improve quality of service, and mitigate risks. The analysts felt that if you are not partnering with a storage vendor that offers five essential technologies, you should probably change vendors. What are those five essential technologies? I am glad you asked. Watch this [YouTube video] to find out.
Getting the Most From Your Storage Vendor Relationships
The analyst mentioned there are two kinds of storage vendors. Suppliers that sell you solutions, and Partners that work with you to develop unique functionality. He offered some advice:
Allow vendors to analyze and profile your workloads, such as IOPS, MB/sec bandwidth, average blocksize, and so on.
Review your Service level agreements (SLAs), procedures and asset management strategies
Identify upgrade risks, conversion costs, and unintended consequences
Take advantage of vendor engineers and technical staff for skills transfer, best practices, industry trends, and competitive comparisons
Explore different solutions and approaches
Avoid big pitfalls by negotiating and locking in upgrade and maintenance costs, scheduling conversions, and getting any guarantees in writing.
Asking the audience how they currently interact with their storage vendors:
The analyst's "Do's and Don'ts" were good advice for nearly any kind of business negotiation:
Keep language simple and enforceable
Limit diagnostic time
Be reasonble with rolling time-lines
Design remedies that keep you whole and are implementable in your environment
Make remedies punitive
Use qualitative measures
Rely on vendor's metrics only
Set terms that expire during life of system
Let the vendor provide best practices after installation, set reasonable expectations, schedule regular reviews, and insist on cross-vendor cooperation, have zero tolerance for finger-pointing between vendors. Depreciate storage equipment quickly.
This was the last session of the conference, a workshop to deal with irrational behavior during unexpected events that could disrupt or impact business operations. In the exercise, each table was a fictitious company, and the 7-8 people sitting at each table represented different department heads who had to make recommendations to upper management on how to deal with each disastrous situation presented to us. Decisions had to be made with limited and incomplete information. Each table had to come to a consensus on each action, and a single spokesperson from each table would present the recommendations. Winners of each round got prizes.
Plenty of coffee, not enough juice. Power and Cooling were top of mind. The rooms were cold, designed for people wearing suits I imagine. I enjoyed plenty of hot coffee throughout the event. Everyone complained that their smartphones and iPads were running out of electricity. The conference had "recharge" stations with plugs for all kinds of different phones, but the Micro-USB plugs that I needed for my Samsung Vibrant, and the apple connections needed by everyone else's iPhones and iPads, were always taken. I remember when you could charge your cell phone once a week, because you hardly used it to make calls, and now that they can be used to follow Twitter feeds, surf websites, and other actions between sessions, power runs out quickly.
Information Overload. I was one of those following tweets on the HootSuite app on my Android-based smart phone. I was able to meet some of the people I have exchanged blog comments and tweets. One told me that his tweets was his way of taking notes, so that his trip report would be done when he got back to the office. I used to write trip reports also, before blogging and tweeting.
The mood was positive. Overall, all the rival competitors got along well. I had friendly chats with people from Oracle, HP, Cisco, EMC, VCE, and others. People are overall optimistic that the IT industry is set for economic growth in 2011.
The only people who look forward to change are babies in soiled diapers. My impression is that people who were threatened by Cloud Computing now have a better understanding on what they need to do going forward. Yes, this means learning new skills, re-evaluating your backup/recovery procedures, reviewing your BC/DR contingency plans, and a variety of other changes. Those who don't like frequent change should consider getting out of the IT industry. Just sayin'
I suspect this will be my last post of 2010. I will be taking a much-needed break, celebrating the Winter Solstice. To all my readers, I wish you good times over the next few weeks, and a Happy New Year!
By combining multiple components into a single "integrated system", IBM can offer a blended disk-and-tape storage solutions. This provides the best of both worlds, high speed access using disk, while providing lower costs and more energy efficiency with tape. According to a study by the Clipper Group, tape can be 23 times less expensive than disk over a 5 year total cost of ownership (TCO).
I've also covered Hierarchical Storage Management, such as my post [Seven Tiers of Storage at ABN Amro], and my role as lead architect for DFSMS on z/OS in general, and DFSMShsm in particular.
However, some explanation might be warranted in the use of these two terms in regards to SONAS. In this case, ILM refers to policy-based file placement, movement and expiration on internal disk pools. This is actually a GPFS feature that has existed for some time, and was tested to work in this new configuration. Files can be individually placed on either SAS (15K RPM) or SATA (7200 RPM) drives. Policies can be written to move them from SAS to SATA based on size, age and days non-referenced.
HSM is also a form of ILM, in that it moves data from SONAS disk to external storage pools managed by IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. A small stub is left behind in the GPFS file system indicating the file has been "migrated". Any reference to read or update this file will cause the file to be "recalled" back from TSM to SONAS for processing. The external storage pools can be disk, tape or any other media supported by TSM. Some estimate that as much as 60 to 80 percent of files on NAS have low reference and should be stored on tape instead of disk, and now SONAS with HSM makes that possible.
This distinction allows the ILM movement to be done internally, within GPFS, and the HSM movement to be done externally, via TSM. Both ILM and HSM movement take advantage of the GPFS high-speed policy engine, which can process 10 million files per node, run in parallel across all interface nodes. Note that TSM is not required for ILM movement. In effect, SONAS brings the policy-based management features of DFSMS for z/OS mainframe to all the rest of the operating systems that access SONAS.
HTTP and NIS support
In addition to NFS v2, NFS v3, and CIFS, the SONAS v1.1.1 adds the HTTP protocol. Over time, IBM plans to add more protocols in subsequent releases. Let me know which protocols you are interested in, so I can pass that along to the architects designing future releases!
SONAS v1.1.1 also adds support for Network Information Service (NIS), a client/server based model for user administration. In SONAS, NIS is used for netgroup and ID mapping only. Authentication is done via Active Directory, LDAP or Samba PDC.
SONAS already had synchronous replication, which was limited in distance. Now, SONAS v1.1.1 provides asynchronous replication, using rsync, at the file level. This is done over Wide Area Network (WAN) across to any other SONAS at any distance.
Interface modules can now be configured with either 64GB or 128GB of cache. Storage now supports both 450GB and 600GB SAS (15K RPM) and both 1TB and 2TB SATA (7200 RPM) drives. However, at this time, an entire 60-drive drawer must be either all one type of SAS or all one type of SATA. I have been pushing the architects to allow each 10-pack RAID rank to be independently selectable. For now, a storage pod can have 240 drives, 60 drives of each type of disk, to provide four different tiers of storage. You can have up to 30 storage pods per SONAS, for a total of 7200 drives.
An alternative to internal drawers of disk is a new "Gateway" iRPQ that allows the two storage nodes of a SONAS storage pod to connect via Fibre Channel to one or two XIV disk systems. You cannot mix and match, a storage pod is either all internal disk, or all external XIV. A SONAS gateway combined with external XIV is referred to as a "Smart Business Storage Cloud" (SBSC), which can be configured off premises and managed by third-party personnel so your IT staff can focus on other things.
See the Announcement Letters for the SONAS [hardware] and [software] for more details.
For those who are wondering how this positions against IBM's other NAS solution, the IBM System Storage N series, the rule of thumb is simple. If your capacity needs can be satisfied with a single N series box per location, use that. If not, consider SONAS instead. For those with non-IBM NAS filers that realize now that SONAS is a better approach, IBM offers migration services.
Both the Information Archive and the SONAS can be accessed from z/OS or Linux on System z mainframe, from "IBM i", AIX and Linux on POWER systems, all x86-based operating systems that run on System x servers, as well as any non-IBM server that has a supported NAS client.