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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Wednesday morning at the [Oracle OpenWorld 2011] conference started with another keynote session. This time, Safra Catz, CFO and President of Oracle, introduced John Chambers, CEO of Cisco.
John says Cisco is helping to "empower the customer through market transitions." This includes helping customers decide how to deploy new technology, choosing between integrated stacks and interoperable components, scaling the business with a flat IT budget, and how/when to decide on moving to the cloud.
(FTC Disclosure: IBM resells Cisco switches and directors and are considered a partner in this sense. If you are going to buy Cisco switches and directors, please consider buying them through IBM.)
The information economy is transitioning to a networked one. Access to information is not as important as access to expertise. Process and Procedures are not as important as Communities and Relationships. The old style Command-and-Control management is giving way to Collaboration. He showed a chart that showed the evolution from routed/bridged networks to packet/mobile and video. He also had a chart that showed the evolution from Mainframe/Mini-computers, to Client/Server and Web, to Virtualization in the Cloud. He also indicated that Google's acquisition of Motorola was indicative of the "Death of the PC".
High Tech companies must re-invent themselves to stay relevant. Here were Cisco's five "Foundational Priorities":
Leadership in the Core. This refers to his core business of high-end Ethernet and Fibre Channel directors.
Collaboration. This was the original promise of networking computers together, was to bring people together also. He feels that "Collaboration" will take off in the 2010's.
Data Center/Virtualization/Cloud. Cisco is now in the business of selling computers. They are now #2 in North America for x86 server sales, and #3 globally. In this regard, they are a direct competitor to both IBM and Oracle at this conference. John wants to create "borderless" networks between Private and Public clouds. He claims that they have now 8,228 Ciscu UCS customers over the past 18 months. This was a slam at Oracle, who hasn't sold half that many new systems in the same time period.
Video. John indicated that every product in the Cisco family is video-enabled, from the Cius tablet, to WebEx, to TelePresence, to all of his switches and directors. In theory, the "Flip" video cam that Cisco dropped in their latest round of layoffs would have also been counted in that category. John indicates that he envisions video will take over as the predominant communication mechanism. Back in 2006, at Oracle OpenWorld, John showed a chart that indicated that people will transition from passive TV-watchers to active video producers. Here we are five years later, and while 24 hours' worth of video are uploaded to YouTube every second, most people are still TV-watchers.
Architectures for Business Transformation. He elaborated on this to refer to issues like reliability, security, and products that are designed to work together. Business and Government leaders are focused on their business, not technology.
He gave a demo of Cisco UCS. This is a 4U collection of server blades, with up to 384GB of DRAM using 8GB DIMMs, or 192GB using much-cheaper 4GB DIMMs. There are 2 switches with 8 ports each 10GbE, for a total of 160 Gbps, that can carry both Ethernet and FCoE traffic. The UCS System Manager is similar to IBM's Unified Resource Manager in that it manages the entire box. A "service profile" has 40 to 50 BIOS settings that can be applied to give each x86 blade a specific personality. You can re-provision these by changing their service profile as needed.
The next demo was really cool. They took video that involved people talking, and had it "machine transcribed" so that you can read the words being said in the video. Type in a word like "tolerances" in the search engine, and the video advances exactly to the spot where that word is uttered.
The next demo after that involved a special camera for monitoring High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in traffic. In an example used in London, UK, the camera can see inside the car and confirm there are enough people to justify HOV usage, and if not, scan the license plate and charge the owner of the vehicle a fine. (In a sense, "Big Data" analytics combined with Cisco's vision of ubiquitous video equals [Big Brother])
In another slam against Oracle, John actually backed up his claims with published benchmarks. He wrapped up his talk with: "If I have done my job well, then you will all leave this room a bit uncomfortable." Not surprisingly, John didn't mention either the vBlock relationship with EMC, or the FlexPod relationship with NetApp.
I have arrived safely to San Francisco, and was able to check-in at the hotel, pick up my registration badge for Oracle OpenWorld 2011, and attend the first keynote session. This is the largest Oracle OpenWorld event to-date, with over 45,000 attendees from 117 different countries. There are 520,000 square feet of exhibition floor, and over 2,400 educational sessions. The conference is spread across the different buildings of the Moscone center, as well as nearby hotels. On average, attendees will walk seven miles during the week.
Larry Ellison was the keynote speaker for this first kick-off session. He focused almost exclusively on server and storage hardware. He feels that business is all about moving data, not doing integer math.
At the beginning of 2011, Oracle had only sold about 1,000 Exadata, but they have a sales target to sell an additional 3,000 Exadata boxes by year end.
The Exadata offers up to 10x columnar compression, and has 10x faster bandwidth (40Gbps Infiniband versus 4Gbps FCP). If you have a 100TB database, it would take up only 10TB of disk with this approach. He claims that the 90TB of disk you don't have to buy can then be used to buy more DRAM and/or Flash SSD.
(Realistically, since SSD is 15x more expensive than spinning disk, you can only purchase about 6TB of Flash for the 90TB you save on disk!)
Larry claims the design point for Exadata and Exalogic was to offer a system that was more powerful than IBM's fastest P795 computer, but cheaper than commodity x86 hardware. His secret is to "Parallel everything" for faster performance, and no single points of failure (SPOF). Exadata offers up to 10-50x faster query, and 4-10x faster OLTP. To keep costs low, Exadata uses all commodity hardware except the Infiniband. He cited various customer examples:
A company replaced 36 Teradata with 3 Exadata and result was application was 8x faster.
Banco Chile 9x faster than previous system
Deutsche Post 60x faster
Sogetti gets 60x faster backups.
French bank BNP Paribas 17x faster and no change to applications.
Proctor & Gamble 18x faster
Merck 5x faster
Turkcell 250TB compressed to 25TB, 10x faster
The problem was that in each example, he said what it was compared against was the old previous system, which varies and could have been an older Sun system, or an old system from HP, IBM or Dell. Perhaps it was a freudian slip, but Larry mistakenly said "Paralyze" your applications, when he probably meant to "Parallelize".
Of all their 380,000 Oracle customers, 70 percent have SPARC/Solaris and/or Linux. Last week, Oracle announced the new SPARC-T4, which Larry claimed was 5x faster than the previous SPARC-T3. Larry feels that for the first time ever, a non-IBM CPU can challenge the long-standing rein of the IBM POWER series processor. Larry admitted that the IBM POWER7 chip actually did some tasks faster than the SPARC-T4, so his work is not yet done, but they plan to offer a new SPARC-T5 next year that will be 2x better than the SPARC-T4.
Larry compared the I/O bandwidth of serv ers based on SPARC-T4, compared to POWER7, and found that the SPARC-T4 has double the I/O bandwidth, for a cost that was only about 1/4 the cost of a mainframe. IBM offers both. POWER7-based servers for CPU-intensive workloads, and System z (S/390)-based systems for I/O-intensive workloads. Larry feels that even though POWER7 is superior than SPARC-T4 for mathematical calculations, all business applications are focused on I/O-bandwidth to move data, not computations.
Larry claims the new SPARC-T4 can do 1.2 million IOPS. He uses 40 Gbps Infiniband instead of traditional SAN-attached FCP solutions.
A new "box" called Exalytics, combines their commodity hardware platform with a hueristic adaptive in-memory cache, their latest "me-too" solution that compares with what IBM already offers in [IBM SolidDB]. In fact, their me-too is not even internally developed, but rather the result of an acquisition of a company called "Times Ten". I thought it was interesting that the only piece of Oracle software mentioned during Larry's 90-minute speach, was this piece of acquired technology. The new Exalytics product run on a small rack and grow, analyzing relational data, non-relational OLAP, as well as unstructured documents. The result is what Larry called "the Speed of Light".
He also mentioned that Bob Shimp would kick-off the Cloud later in the week. Given that Larry himself thought that Cloud was a stupid, over-marketed term that nobody has deployed over the past few years, to a complete believer, claiming that over 20 live demos will be given this year on Cloud.
Perhaps the funniest quote was his motivation to use Infiniband as the interconnect
"Ethernet was invented by Xerox when I was a child."
-- Larry Ellison
Here are some sessions that IBM is featuring on Monday. Note the first two are Solution Spotlight sessions at the IBM Booth #1111 where I will be most of the time.
IBM Cloud Computing Solutions for Oracle
10/03/11, 10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., Solution Spotlight, Booth #1111 Moscone South
Presenter: Chuck Calio,Technical Strategist, IBM Systems & Technology Group
IBM is recognized in the IT industry as one of the "Big 6" cloud providers, along with Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and Yahoo. This session will highlight how IBM Cloud offerings apply to Oracle applications.
Lowering Cost and increasing efficiency in your long term support of Oracle EPM and BI
10/03/11, 3:00 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m., Solution Spotlight, Booth #1111 Moscone South
Presenter: Matthew Angelstad, IBM Global Business Solutions - Oracle EPM (Hyperion) Practice Lead
In 2007, Oracle acquired Hyperion, a leading provider of performance management software. This session will show how IBM helps Oracle clients unify Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Business Intelligence (BI) in a cost-effective manner, supporting a broad range of strategic, financial and operational management processes.
Application Strategy: Charting the Course for Maximum Business Value
10/03/11, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., OpenWorld session #39061
Presenter: Mike Marchildon, IBM
The industry is undergoing a shift from single Enteprise Resource Planning (ERP) application to second-generation platforms containing diverse yet interdependent systems. This shift presents opportunities and challenges for both IT and the business.
This week was the IBM Pulse 2011 converence in Las Vegas, Nevada, with over 7,000 attendees. I wasn't there, and my on-the-scene correspondent was too busy running the hands-on lab to get out and attend sessions. Fortunately, I was able to watch some of the [IBM Software live stream], and here are my thoughts and observations.
Fellow inventor [Dean Kamen] was the keynote speaker. His inventions help people, making the world a better place. Here are three examples I found interesting during his talk:
Helping third world countries
Dean started out with his favorite quote:
"A problem well defined is a problem half-solved." - John Dewey
Dean mentioned that we are fortunate, having both potable drinking water and a reliable supply of electricity, but 2 to 4 billion people on the planet do not. Sponsored by Coca-Cola, Dean and his team of innovators were able to come up with small units that can be placed in a village or town. One unit takes in wet liquid and produces potable drinking water. The other unit takes combustible materials, like cow dung, and products electricity. Each unit is roughly the size of half a standard server rack. What does Coca-Cola get out of this? New "vending machines"! By combining drinking water with flavored syrups, they can create soft drinks on demand.
Dean's opinion was that if you want something done, you need to work with large corporations, as governments are mired in beauracracy and rules. I agree. When I first joined IBM, I was introduced to [TRIZ] which was a systematic method for solving problems. IBM's best and brightest are working to solve some of the toughest computer science challenges. For more on TRIZ, see this blog post about [TRIZ in BusinessWeek].
Helping injured veterans
Dean Kamen is well known for inventing the two-wheeled [Segway Personal Transporter], but his company, [DEKA], makes all kinds of things, mostly medical equipment. To help wounded soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan without one or both arms, Dean and his team developed a robotic arm that has enough motor dexterity to pick up a raisin or grape off the table without dropping or squashing it. Dean has appeared several times on the Colbert Report, and here is a video of the robotic arm:
I have myself enjoyed riding a Segway. A local place in Tucson uses them to lead tourists through downtown Tucson and the University of Arizona campus.
Helping young students to learn science and technology
Dean wrapped up his talking by talking about his passion about "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology" or [FIRST]. Modeled after sports competitions, FIRST encourages teams of kids to build robots that perform specific tasks. Every year, companies and universities sponsor teams by purchasing robot kits from FIRST. Teams compete in regional competitions, and then the best of those go on to compete in a stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, hosting 76,000 people cheering for their teams.
Unlike other school sports (Football, Basketball, Baseball, etc.) where a student is more likely to win the lottery than get a successful career as a professional athlete, every student involved in FIRST competitions can "go pro". A study of FIRST success tracked students who participated in competitions, and found a substantial improvement in percentage of those students attending college and working as science and engineering professionals.
I am a big fan of encouraging kids of all ages to learn more about science, technology, engineering and math [STEM]. Back in 2009, I blogged about my involvement with [One Laptop Per Child] and [Junior FIRST Lego League]. I've gotten a great reaction to my latest challenge, to build a Watson Jr. in your own basement, based on my [step-by-step] instructions.
If you attended IBM Pulse this week, please comment on your thoughts and observations!
This week I am blogging from beautiful Caesars Palace hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada to report on what I see and hear at the
28th annual Data Center Conference. Today was simply registration, which opened at 4pm, and I was able to get my conference backpack, badge, and details of the week.
Already, I can tell there will be more people here, and it looks like the economy is on the rebound versus last year. Here are my
posts from 12 months ago when I attended this conference in 2008:
This year, we will have the IBM Portable Modular Data Center (PMDC) with XIV and iDataPlex inside, as well as several subject matter experts joining me at the solution center. Look for us in the "Hunter Green" shirts.