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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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This week was the 2008 MacWorld conference. I thought I would reflect on some of the storage related aspects of the products mentioned by Steve Jobsin his Keynote address.Many were updated version of products introduced last year's MacWorld. (In case you forgot whatthose were, here ismy post that covered [MacWorld 2007]).
(Disclaimer: IBM has a strong working relationship with Apple, and manufacturers technology used in someof Apple's products. I own both an Apple iPod as well as an Apple G4 Mac Mini. IBM supports its employees usingApple laptops instead of Windows-based ones for work, and IBM has developed software that runs on Apple's OS X.Apple is kind enough to extend its "employee discount prices" to IBM employees.)
In the first 90 days of its release, Apple sold 5 million copies, representing 19 percent of Mac users. I am stillone of the 81 percent still using 10.4 Tiger, the previous level. My Mac Mini is based on G4 POWER processor, and upgrading is on my [Someday/Maybe] list. I am not taking sides in the [OS X vs. Windows vs. Linux religious debate]; I use all three.
The key storage-related feature of Leopard is their backup software Time Machine, and Steve Jobs announceda companion product called Time Capsule that would serve as the external backup disk wirelessly, over 802.1nWi-Fi. For many households, backup is either never done, or done rarely, so any help to simplify and relieve theburden is welcome.
Time Capsule comes in 500GB and 1TB SATA disk capacities, which Steve Jobs called "server-grade". What about a 750GB model? Looks like Apple followed EMC'sexample and went straight to 1TB instead. After EMC failed to deliver 750GB drives in 2007 that they [promised back in July], EMC blogger Chuck Hollis explains in his post[Enterprise Storage Strikes Back!]:
So there's something in the EMC goodie bag as well for you -- the availability of the new 1TB disk drives you've been hearing about. We skipped the 750GB drive and went right to the 1TB drive.
Apple iPhone and iPod Touch
In the first 200 days, Apple has sold 4 million phones, and has garnered nearly 20 percent of the smart phone market share. New features include a GPS-like location feature that uses [triangulation] with cell phone towers and Wi-Fi hotspotsto determine where you are located.
I covered last year's introduction of the iPhone in my post on [Convergence].All of the features he presented were software updates to the existing 8GB and 16GB models. No new modelswith larger storage were introduced.
I am a T-mobile customer, so am out of luck until either (a) Apple unlocks their phones from the AT&T network, or(b) Apple signs an agreement with T-mobile in the USA. I reviewed the various hacks to unlock iPhones last year, but was not interested in losing official warranty or future software support.
The iPod Touch is an interesting alternative. It is basically an iPhone with the cell-phone features disabled, whichgives you Wi-Fi over the Safari browser, music, videos, and so on. Steve Jobs mentioned enhanced software updates for this as well. The iPod Touch comes in the same 8GB and 16GB sizes as the iPhone.
AppleTV and iTunes
Steve Jobs indicated that they have sold over 4 billion songs over iTunes, 125 million TV shows, and 7 million movies.He announced that now iTunes would allow for movie rentals, with the option to see them within 30 days, but once you started watching a movie, you have 24 hours to finish. I found it interesting that he said rentals were to reduce space on your hard drive, versus outright purchase of movie content.
In a rare concession, Steve admitted that the original AppleTV misunderstood the marketplace. The original AppleTV allowed you to view pictures and listen to music through your television, but people wanted to view movies. Thesoftware upgrade would allow this, using the iTunes rental model above, as well as watch video podcasts and over 50 million videos posted on YouTube.
Some television-related stats from [z/Journal] were quite timely. The older non-digital TVs could be usedwith the AppleTV and gaming systems like Nintendo Wii.
33 percent of U.S. households do not know what to do with (their older) TVs after digital switch (Feb 2009)
69 percent of Americans think PCs are more entertaining than TV
Rather than try to fight peer-to-peer website piracy, Apple cleverly decided to compete head-to-head against it. This iswell summarized in Matt Mason's 6-minute video [The Pirate's Dilemma]. Eleven major movie studios are on board with Apple's movie rental plans, making thousands of movietitles available for this, with hundreds in High Definition (HD).
I personally have a Tivo, connected wirelessly to a regular non-HD television, as well as my PC, Mac and internet hub, and this allows me to view my photos, listen to my iTunes collection of music and internet radio stations from [Live365], as well as rent movies and TV shows from Amazon Unbox, with prices ranging from free to four dollars.
The theme of this week was "Something is in the Air", an obvious reference to this product, billed as the world's thinnest laptop.John Windsor on his YouBlog writes[Making it Memorable] aboutthe use of a standard office envelope to demonstrate how thin this new MacBook Air laptop is. It is 0.16 inchesat one end, and 0.76 inches as the other end. Unlike other "ultra-thin" laptops, this has a full-size back-lit keyboardand full-size 13.3 inch widescreen. The touchpad supports multi-touch gestures similar to the iPhone and iPod Touch.Intel managed to shrink down their Core 2 Duo processor chip by 60 percent to fit inside this machine. Thebattery is reported to last five hours.
This laptop was designed for wireless access, with 802.1n and BlueTooth enabled. No RJ-45 connection for traditionalLAN ethernet connection, but I guess you can use a USB-to-RJ45 converter.
Storage-wise, you can choose between the 1.8-inch 80GB HDD or a pricey-but-faster 64GB Flash Solid-State Disk (SSD).In a move similar to [getting rid of the 3.5-inch floppy disk in 1998's iMac G3], the MacBook Air got rid of the CD/DVDdrive. While they offer a USB-attachable SuperDrive as an optional peripheral, Steve Jobs gave alternative methods:
Watching movies on DVD
Rent or Buy from iTunes instead
Burning music CDs for your car stereo
Attach your iPod to your car stereo
Taking backups to CD or DVD
Use Time Machine and Time Capsule instead
Installing Software from CD
Wirelessly connect to a "Remote Optical Disc" on a Mac or PC, running special Apple-provided software that allows you to make this connection
Here's a list to the 90-minute[keynote address video]. If you arenot a fan of recycling, saving the environment, free speech or democracy, you can safely skip the last 15 minutes when musical artist Randy Newman performs.For alternative viewpoints on the keynote, see posts from [John Gruber] and [Tara MacKay].
Continuing my business trip through Canada, an article by Richard Blackwell titled [The Double Bottom Line] yesterday's Globe and Mail newspaper caught my attention.Here is an excerpt, citing Tim Brodhead, president of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation in Montreal:
The bottom line for any business is making a profit, right?
But how about considering a different, or additional bottom line: helping make the world a better place to live in.
That's the radical proposition underlying the concept of "social entrepreneurship," the harnessing of business skills for the benefit of the disadvantaged.
Young investors, in particular, now want their investments to produce both financial and social returns, he noted.
Until recently, "we could either make a donation [to a charity] and get zero financial return, or we could invest and get zero social return." People now want more of both, but rules governing charities and business make that tough to accomplish.
One stumbling block is the imperative - entrenched in corporate law - that managers and directors of for-profit companies have a fiduciary duty to maximize profits. That structure is a brick wall that limits the expansion of social entrepreneurship, Mr. Brodhead said.
Some companies have embraced the new paradigm of a double bottom line, even if they are uncomfortable with the "social entrepreneur" label.
This fiduciary duty to maximize profits is discussed in the 2003 documentary[Corporation]. However, some organizations are now trying to aligntheir goals, finding ways to benefit their investers, as well as society overall. For example, organization [ONE.org] helped launch [Product (RED)]:
If you buy a (RED) product from GAP, Motorola, Armani, Converse or Apple, they will give up to 50% of their profit to buy AIDS drugs for mothers and children in Africa. (RED) is the consumer battalion gathering in the shopping malls. You buy the jeans, phones, iPods, shoes, sunglasses, and someone - somebody’s mother, father, daughter or son - will live instead of dying in the poorest part of the world. It’s a different kind of fashion statement.
The company, which has operated in Africa for nearly six decades, expects to increase its investment by more than $US120 million (more than R820 million) over the next two years. In the coming year, IBM expects to hire up to 100 students from Sub-Saharan universities to meet the growing demand in services, global delivery and software development.
"The Sub-Saharan African market is poised for double-digit growth flowing from the development and expansion of telecommunications networks, power grids and transport infrastructure," said Mark Harris, Managing Director, IBM South and Central Africa. "Private and public sector investment in the region is transforming the ability of the market to participate in the global economy."
A recent IBM Global Innovation Outlook (GIO) [report on Africa] indicates that the economies ofdozens of African nations are growing at healthy rates, the best in the past 30 years, with 5.5 to 5.8 percent averageacross the continent. This supports last month's news that [Top IBM thinkers to mentor African students]:
Hundreds of IBM scientists and researchers will mentor college students in Africa. Called Makocha Minds (after the Swahili word for "teacher"), the program will reach hundreds of computer science, engineering and mathematics students.
Makocha Minds is an off-shoot of IBM’s Global Innovation Outlook, an annual symposium of top government, business and academic leaders that uncovers new opportunities for business and societal innovation. "African students need to be trained in entrepreneurship so that they get out there and not just make jobs for themselves but create opportunities to employ others as well,” said Athman Fadhili, a graduate student at the University of Nairobi (Kenya).
Most of the mentoring will be via email and online collaboration.
Mentoring via email and online collaboration is very reasonable. I have mentored both high school and collegestudents through a partnership between IBM Tucson and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers[SHPE]. While thekids were all located in Tucson, I rarely am, traveling nearly every week, but I madetime for the kids via email and online collaboration wherever I happened to be.
To make this work, we need to get email and online collaboration in the hands who need them.I got my email thanking me for being a "first day donor" to the One Laptop Per Child "Give 1 Get 1" (G1G1) project,and have added this "badge" to the right panel of my blog. If you click on the badge, you will be takento a series of YouTube videos that further describe the project.
According to the email my donated XO laptop will soon be delivered into the hands of a child in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti, Mongolia or Rwanda.
How do these work? Instead of buying your uncle yet another $25 necktie, consider buying a $25 Kiva certificate.The $25 dollar "micro loan" goes to someone in the third world to improve their situation, start a business, geta job, and so on, and you give your uncle a Kiva certificate so that he can track the progress. I think that isvery clever and innovative.
Last week, a writer for a magazine contacted us at IBM to confirm a quote that writing a Terabyte (TB) on disk saves 50,000 trees. I explained that this was cited from UC Berkeley's famousHow Much Information? 2003 study.
To be fair, the USA Today article explains that AT&T also offers "summary billing" as well as "on-line billing", but apparently neither of these are the default choice. I can understand that phone companies send out bills on paper because not everyone who has a phone has internet access, but in the case of its iPhone customers, internet access is in the palm of your hands! Since all iPhone customers have internet access, and AT&T knows which customers are using an iPhone, it would make sense for either on-line billing or summary billing to be the default choice, and let only those that hate trees explicitly request the full billing option.
Sending a box of 300 pages of printed paper is expensive, both for the sender and the recipient. This informationcould have been shipped less expensively on computer media, a single floppy diskette or CDrom for example. Forthose who prefer getting this level of detail, a searchable digitized version might be more useful to the consumer.
Which brings me to the concept of Information Lifecycle Management (ILM). You can read my recent posts on ILM byclicking the Lifecycle tab on the right panel, or my now infamous post from last year about ILM for my iPod.
His recollection of the history and evolution of ILM fairly matches mine:
The phrase "Information Lifecycle Management" was originally coined by StorageTek in early 1990s as a way to sell its tape systems into mainframe environments. Automated tape libraries eliminated most if not all of the concerns that disk-only vendors tout as the problem with manual tape. I began my IBM career in a product now called DFSMShsm which specifically moved data from disk to tape when it no longer needed the service level of disk. IBM had been delivering ILM offerings since the 1970s, so while StorageTek can't claim inventing the concept, we give them credit for giving it a catchy phrase.
EMC then started using the phrase four years ago in its marketing to sell its disk systems, including slower less-expensive SATA disk. The ILM concept helped EMC provide context for the many acquisitions of smaller companies that filled gaps in the EMC portfolio. Question: Why did EMC acquire company X? Answer: To be more like IBM and broaden its ILM solution portfolio.
Information Lifecycle Management is comprised of the policies, processes,practices, and tools used to align the business value of information with the mostappropriate and cost effective IT infrastructure from the time information isconceived through its final disposition. Information is aligned with businessrequirements through management policies and service levels associated withapplications, metadata, and data.
Whitepapers and other materials you might read from IBM, EMC, Sun/StorageTek, HP and others will all pretty much tell you what ILM is, consistent with this SNIA definition, why it is good for most companies, and how it is not just about buying disk and tape hardware. Software, services, and some discipline are needed to complete the implementation.
While the SNIA definition provides a vendor-independent platform to start the conversation, it can be intimidatingto some, and is difficult to memorize word for word.When I am briefing clients, especially high-level executives, they often ask for ILM to be explained in simpler terms. My simplified version is:
Information starts its life captured or entered as an "asset" ...
This asset can sometimes provide competitive advantage, or is just something needed for daily operations. Digital assets vary in business value in much the same way that other physical assets for a company might. Some assets might be declared a "necessary evil" like laptops, but are tracked to the n'th degree to ensure they are not lost, stolen or taken out of the building. Other assetsare declared "strategically important" but are readily discarded, or at least allowed to walk out the door each evening.
... then transitions into becoming just an "expense" ...
After 30-60 days, many of the pieces of information are kept around for a variety of reasons. However, if it isn'tneeded for daily operations, you might save some money moving it to less expensive storage media, throughless expensive SAN or LAN network gear, via less expensive host application servers. If you don't need instantaccess, then perhaps the 30 seconds or so to fetch it from much-less-expensive tape in an automated tape librarycould be a reasonable business trade-off.
... and ends up as a "liability".
Keeping data around too long can be a problem. In some cases, incriminating, and in other cases, just having toomuch data clogs up your datacenter arteries. If not handled properly within privacy guidelines, data potentially exposes sensitive personal or financial information of your employees and clients. Most regulations require certain data to be kept, in a manner protected against unexpected loss, unethical tampering, and unauthorized access, for a specific amount of time, after which it can be destroyed, deleted or shredded.
So ILM is not just a good idea to save a company money, it can keep them out of the court room, as well as help save the environment and not kill so many trees. Now that 100 percent of iPhone customers have internet access, and a goodnumber of non-iPhone customers have internet access at home, work, school or public library, it makes sense for companies to ask people to "opt-in" to getting their statements on paper, rather than forcing them to "opt-out".
Avi Bar-Zeeb of RealityPrime has an interesting post aboutHow Google Earth [really] Works.Normally, people who are very knowledgeable in a topic have a hard time describing concepts in basic terms. Avi was one of the co-founders of Keyhole, the company that built the predecessor for Google Earth, and also worked with Linden Lab for its 3D rendering it its virtual world, so he certainly knows what he is talking about. While he sometimes drops down into techno-talk about patents, the post overall is a good read.
It is perhaps human nature to be curious on how things are put together and how they function, leading to the popularity of web sites like www.howstuffworks.com that cover a wide range of topics.
Many things can be used without understanding their internal inner workings. You can put on a pair of blue jeans without knowing how the cotton was made into denim fabric; lace up your favorite pair of running shoes without understanding the chemical make-up of the plastic that cushions your feet; or drink a glass of beer after your five mile run without knowing how alcohol is processed by your liver.
For technology, however, some people insist they need to know how it works in order for them to get the most use of it. When shopping for a car, for example, a guy might look under the hood, and ask questions about how the engine works, while his wife sits inside the vehicle, counting cup holders and making sure the radio has all the right buttons.
Not all technology suffers from need-to-know-itis. For example, the Apple iPod music player and the Canon PowerShot digital camera, are both just disk systems that read and write data, with knobs and dials on one end, and ports for connectivity on the other. Everyone just asks how to use their controls, and might read the manual to understand how to connect the cables. Few people who use these devices ask how they work before they buy them.
Other disk systems, the kind designed for data centers for the medium and large enterprise, apparently aren't there yet. Storage admins who might happily own both an iPod player and a PowerShot camera, insist they need to know how the technologies inside various storage offerings work. Is this just curiosity talking? Or are there some tasks like configuration, tuning, and support that just can't be done without this knowledge? Does knowing the inner workings somehow make the job more enjoyable, easier, or performed with less stress?
I'm curious what you think, send me a comment on this.
Today,Apple and EMI announced that EMI’s entire music and video catalog will be available in May without any digital rights management (DRM) protection.Not only with the music be higher quality, but can be played on any player, presumably using MP3 format instead ofApple's proprietary AAC format. Being locked into any single vendor solution is undesirable. Similar issues abound for Microsoft Office 2007 file formats.
On my iPod, I ripped all my CDs into MP3 format, not AAC. I love my iPod, but if I ever decided to chose a different MP3 player, I did not want to go through the time-consuming process or re-ripping them again.
A blog by Seth Godin feels this Apple-EMI announcement means thatDRM is dead.
Back when music labels added value by producing and distributing music in physical form, it made sense for them to take a cut. Mass-producing CDs and distributing them out to music stores across the country costs lots of money. However, for online music, music labels don't have these same overhead costs, but continue the process of paying the artists only a few pennies per dollar. Some artists have file lawsuits to get their fair share.
This process applies to any published work. For example, you can purchase Kevin Kelly's book in various formats, at different prices, from different distributors. For example:
In PDF for $2, directly from the author via PayPal
black-and-white hardcover, for $20, from Amazon
color softcopy, for $30, from Lulu
Each nets the author $1.50 in royalties per copy. You can decide how much in production and distribution costs you want to pay.