Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Systems Client Experience Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2018, Tony celebrates his 32th 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 is my final post on my coverage of the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. IBM was a Platinum sponsor, and there were over 2,600 attendees, of which 27 percent were IT Directors or higher. Two thirds of the companies have 5000 employees or more. Here is a recap of the last few sessions I attended.
Best Practices for Data Center consolidation
As if the conference co-chairs aren't already super-busy, here they are presenting one of the breakout sessions. In the 1990s, consolidation was done purely to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO). Today, there are a variety of other reasons, including issues with power and cooling, service level agreements, and security.
Of these, 25 percent plan to have more data centers in three years, and 47 percent plan to consolidate to fewer. The benefits to consolidation include economies of scale, staff reduction, reduced hardware facilities costs, and application retirement. Challenges include dealing with politics, building new facilities to replace the old ones, and bandwidth. Here were some of the primary reasons why data center consolidation projects fail:
Human Resources (HR) issues
Resources not freed available
Lack of Project Management skills
No rationalization at consolidated site
Interactive Polling Results
The last keynote session was Thursday morning. The conference co-chairs present the highlights of the interactive polling that was done during the week at this conference.
The first topic was social media. There was a lot of Twitter activity with hashtag #GartnerDC that I followed throughout the week. Most of the tweets seem to be from people who were not actually at the conference.
Some 45 percent of the attendees have implemented social media initiatives at their companies. What tooling are they using to accomplish this? There are some provided by the major ITSM vendors, tools specific for corporate social media such as Yammer, collaboration tools like Microsoft SharePoint and IBM's Lotus Connections, and public sites like Facebook and Twitter. Here were the poll results:
The next topic was focused on Mobile devices and Cloud Computing. For example, do companies store data in public cloud, or plan to in the future, for mobile devices?
One third of the attendees allow employees to bring their own tablet to work with full IT support. Only 18 percent allow employees to bring their own PC or laptop. Over 40 percent felt that their IT department was not yet ready to support smartphones.
What are the main drivers to adopt private cloud? Some are deploying private clouds as a way to defend their IT jobs from going to the public cloud. Here were the poll results:
What problems are companies trying to solve with cloud computing? Here were the poll results:
A majority of attendees that use VMware are exploring LInux KVM, such as Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) or Microsfot Hyper-V. What storage protocol are attendees using for their server virtualization? Here were the poll results:
The next topic was the process for IT service management. The top three were ITIL, CMMI and DevOps, with the majority using ITIL or ITIL in combination with something else. These are needed for release management, change management, performance management, capacity management and incident management. How collaborative is the relationship between IT operations and application development? Here were the poll results:
How well does IT operations contribute to business innovation? This year 38 percent were satisfied, and 33 percent unsatisfied. This was a big improvement over last year, that found 19 percent satisfied, 64 percent unsatisfied.
Building a Private Storage Cloud: Is It a Science Experiment?
While everyone understands the benefits of private and public cloud computing, there seems to be hesitation about hosted cloud storage. Some people have already adopted some form of cloud storage, and other plan to within 12 months. Here were the poll results:
The top three reasons for considering public cloud storage was to adopt lower-cost storage tier, to benefit from off-site storage, and staff constraints. The top concerns were security and performance.
The IT department will need to start thinking like a cloud provider, and perhaps adopt a hybrid cloud approach. What IT equipment can be re-used? What will the new IT operations look like in a Cloud environment? What were the primary use cases for cloud storage? Here were the poll results:
In addition to the major cloud providers (IBM, Amazon, etc.) there are a variety of new cloud storage startups to address these business needs.
So that wraps up my coverage of this conference. In addition to attending great keynote and breakout sessions, I was able to have great one-on-one discussions with clients at the Solution Showcase booth, during breaks and at meals. IBM's focus on Big Data, Workload-optimized Systems, and Cloud seems to resonate well with the analysts and attendees. I want to give special thinks to Lynda, Dana, Peggy, Hugo, David, Rick, Cris, Richard, Denise, Chloe, and all my colleagues, friends and family from Arizona for their support!
Continuing my post-week coverage of the [Data Center 2010 conference], Thursday morning had some interesting sessions for those that did not leave town last night.
Interactive Session Results
In addition to the [Profile of Data Center 2010] that identifies the demographics of this year's registrants, the morning started with highlights of the interactive polls during the week.
External or Heterogeneous Storage Virtualization
The analyst presented his views on the overall External/Heterogeneous Storage Virtualization marketplace. He started with the key selling points.
Avoid vendor lock-in. Unlike the IBM SAN Volume Controller, many of the other storage virtualization products result in vendor lock-in.
Leverage existing back-end capacity. Limited to what back-end storage devices are supported.
Simplify and unify management of storage. Yes, mostly.
Lower storage costs. Unlike the IBM SAN Volume Controller, many using other storage virtualization discover an increase in total storage costs.
Migration tools. Yes, as advertised.
Consolidation/Transition. Yes, over time.
Better functionality. Potentially.
Shortly after several vendors started selling external/heterogeneous storage virtualization solutions, either as software or pre-installed appliances, major storage vendors that were caught with their pants down immediately started calling everything internally as also "storage virtualization" to buy some time and increase confusion.
While the analyst agreed that storage virtualization simplifies the view of storage from the host server side, it can complicate the management of storage on the storage end. This often comes up at the Tucson Briefing Center. I explain this as the difference between manual and automatic transmission cars. My father was a car mechanic, and since he is the sole driver and sole mechanic, he prefers manual transmission cars, easier to work on. However, rental car companies, such as Hertz or Avis, prefer automatic transmission cars. This might require more skills on behalf of their mechanics, but greatly simplifies the experience for those driving.
The analyst offered his views on specific use cases:
Data Migration. The analyst feels that external virtualization serves as one of the best tools for data migration. But what about tech refresh of the storage virtualization devices themselves? Unlike IBM SAN Volume Controller, which allows non-disruptive upgrades of the nodes themselves, some of the other solutions might make such upgrades difficult.
Consolidation/Transition. External virtualization can also be helpful, depending on how aggressive the schedule for consolidation/transition is performed.
Improved Functionality/Usability. IBM SAN Volume Controller is a good example, an unexpected benefit. Features like thin provisioning, automated storage tiering, and so on, can be added to existing storage equipment.
The analyst mentioned that there were different types of solutions. The first category were those that support both internal storage and external storage virtualization, like the HDS USP-V or IBM Storwize V7000. He indicated that roughly 40 percent of HDS USP-V are licensed for virtualization. The second category were those that support external virtualization only, such as IBM SAN Volume Controller, HP Lefthand and SVSP, and so on. The third category were software-only Virtual Guest images that could provide storage virtualization capabilities.
The analyst mentioned EMC's failed product Invista, which sold less than 500 units over the past five years. The low penetration for external virtualization, estimated between 2-5 percent, could be explained from the bad taste that left in everyone considering their options. However, the analyst predicts that by 2015, external virtualization will reach double digit marketshare.
Having a feel for the demographics of the registrants, and specific interactive polling in each meeting, provides a great view on who is interested in what topic, and some insight into their fears and motivations.
Continuing my coverage of last week's Data Center Conference 2009, I attended another "User Experience" that was very well received. This time, it was Henry Sienkiewicz of the Department Information Systems Agency (DISA) presenting a real-world example of the business model behind a private cloud implementation. DISA is the US government agency that develops and runs software for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
Being part of the military presents its own unique set of challenges:
Acquisition of hardware to develop and test software is difficult
Budgets fluctuate so an elastic pay-for-use was desirable
End user access had to be secure and meet government regulations
It had to meet the technical aspects of scalable, elastic, dynamic, multi-tenant using shared resources
Using Cloud Computing simplifies provisioning, encourages the use of standards, and provides self-service. DISA has several solutions.
Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE)
RACE is an internal private cloud with 24-hour provisioning for development and test requests, and 72 hour provisioning for production requests. The amount used is billed on a month-to-month basis, and offers a self-service portal so that developers and administrators can just pick and choose what they need. The result is a hosted server, similar to what you get from 1and1.com or GoDaddy.
Global Content Delivery Service (GCDS)
This provides long-term storage of data. An internal version of "Cloud Storage" for archive and fixed content.
This provides a place to maintain source code, basically their internal version of "SourceForge" used by Open Source projects.
In their traditional approach, a software project would take six months to procure the hardware, another 6-12 months code and test, and then another 6 months in certification, for a total of 18-24 months. With the new Cloud Computing approach that DISA adopted, procurement was down to 24-72 hours with RACE, code test took only 2-6 months with Forge.Mil, and certification could be done in days on RACE, resulting in a new total of only 3-6 months. Some challenges they found:
Service Level management and continuing the use of ITIL best practices
Balancing Military-level Security with Self-service Usability
Internal Funding and Chargeback, they had even adopted a way for developers to pay with their credit card
Cultural inertia, developers don't like to change or do things in a different way
Some lessons learned from this two-year experience:
It's a journey. Most of the user experiences for cloud adoption took two or more years to complete
Infrastructure Fundamentals continue to matter
Know your "marketplace", in this case, software development for military applications
Engage in your end-users early. In this case, Henry had wished he had involved input from software developers that would be using RACE, GCDS and Forge.MIL earlier in the process.
Return on Value analysis, this is different than Return on Investment, as many of the benefits of cloud like higher morale are intangible at first
Avoid fixed costs in negotiations with vendors. For example, he cited they use a lot of IBM because of IBM's pay-for-use billing model. They pay for MIPS used on IBM mainframes, and their IBM Tivoli software pricing is usage-based.