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.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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Wrapping up this week's theme of thankfulness, I am thankful for theOne Laptop Per Child [OLPC] and their Get-One-Give-One (G1G1)offer.
Last November, I was one of the first to [sign up for the G1G1],and when mine arrived December 24, I posted initial observations in this[OLPC series].Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of helping out teams in Nepal and Uruguay,collaborating with developers in France, India and the United States. Giving back to othershas been a richly rewarding experience for me. I made some new friends, built up newprofessional contacts, and learned some new tricks as well.
Last year's G1G1 offer was limited to US and Canada, but this year, the OLPC have enlisted [Amazon.com] and made the offer available worldwide. You can choose to either give a single laptop for $199 USD, or get two laptops, get one for yourself or your family, and give the other to someone like Zimi, for $399 USD.
I'm thankful I did. Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers in the USA!
During the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney promised Michigan he wouldbring back all those jobs back to the Auto Industry, while his opponent,John McCain, told the audience that those jobs are gone forever, time tostart learning new skills. Mitt won the state, but lost the nomination,and perhaps this snapped him back to reality. Mitt now has a new prescription for what ails the US Auto industry--straight talk that he should have been saying during his campaign,telling people what they should hear, rather than what they wanted to hear.
Gaurav takes this argument one step further, referring to IBM's amazingturn-around back in 1993. Whereas the US Auto Industry has pushed backagainst inevitable globalization, IBM has embraced it, re-inventing itself into aGlobally Integrated Enterprise [GIE] and helping our clients do the same.I've been working for IBM since 1986, so I remember the pre-1993 IBM and how different it is now in the post-1993 era.
The marketplace has responded positively. Since 2004, more than 5,000 companies worldwide have replaced their HP, Sun, and EMC products with energy-efficient IBM Systems: Servers and Storage. Companies have invested in IBM's servers and storage to tackle their most challenging business objectives and to help reduce sprawling data center costs for labor, energy and real estate.This announcement was part of IBM's[Press Release]for its Migration Factory offering. The Migration Factory includes competitive server assessments, migration services, and other resources to help customers achieve energy and space savings and lower their cost of ownership.
Earlier this month, IBM's Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano recently outlined the possibilities of a smarter planet to the Council on Foreign Relations.Steve Lohr of the New York Times weighs in with his article [I.B.M. Has Tech Answer for Woes of Economy], and Dr. Fern Halper of Hurwitz & Associates gives her take over at [IT-Director.com].
Transcontinental flights and the[Travel Channel] have made the world smaller.Thomas Friedman argued the world has also become "flatter",thanks to advances in computers and global communication, in his 2005 book[The World is Flat].Now, IBM recognizes that InformationTechnology (I.T.) can help us solve the financial meltdown, global warming, and other major problems the world is now faced with.
How? First, our world is becoming instrumented. Sensors, RFID tags and other equipmentare now inexpensive and readily available to be placed wherever they are needed. Second, our world is becoming more interconnected. We are closely approaching two billion internet users andfour billion mobile subscribers, andthese can connect to the trillions of RFID tags, sensors and other instrumentation. Third,our world needs to get more intelligent. Not just US auto workers learning new skills,but all these instruments providing information that can be acted on with intelligentalgorithms. Algorithms can help with automobile traffic in large cities, enhance energyexploration, or improve healthcare.
Well, I'm back from my vacation from Bali and Singapore, and am glad to seethat my fellow blogger BarryB [aka Storage Anarchist] also had a chance to take a break to exotic locations.
Next Thursday, in the USA, is [Thanksgiving holiday], so this will give me a chance to catch up on my email and read everyone's blog posts and product announcements.
The following week, December 2-5, I'll be attending the 27th annual [Data Center Conference] at the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. IBM is a Premier and Platinum sponsor for this event.Look for me in one of the many break-out sessions, one-on-oneexecutive meetings, or IBM's "booth 20" at the solution center. Our team will be showingoff IBM's XIV, SVC and TotalStorage Productivity Center offerings, aswell as explaining IBM Information Infrastructure and the rest of theNew Enterprise Data Center strategy.
The site is filled with information. One item I found particularly interesting was Science Debate 2008's[14 Questions about Science] where the top two U.S. presidential candidates answer questions about science. Barack Obama's answers inDemocratic blue, and John McCain's answers in Republican red.
This is just one of the ways IBM is trying to reach out and help our next generation.
No post today. I will be joining the majority of IBMers in Tucson for "Days of Caring" held annually bythe [United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona].IBM has been doing this for years, and we are joined by volunteers from other local businesses, including HealthNet, Wells Fargo bank, Texas Instruments, KVOA local NBC affiliate, 94.9 MixFM radio, and others.
The "days" involve a kick-off last week (Sep 19) and two days of helping local charities (Sep 24 and 27).We are split into teams and are assigned out to help fix up old buildings, clean out gutters, re-paintwalls. My team will be sorting canned goods at the local[Community Food Bank], and assembling boxes of items to begiven out to needy families.
Well, this has been an interesting two weeks. On week 1, I focused on IBM's strategy and four keysolutions areas: Information Availability, Information Security, Information Retention, and InformationCompliance. On week 2, I focused on individual products, their attributes, features and functions.Which week drew more blog traffic? You guessed it--week 1. Apparently, people want to know more aboutsolutions to their challenges and problems, and not just see what piece part components are available.
While IBM had switched over to solution-selling a while ago, some of our competitors are still inproduct-selling mode, and try to frame all competitive comparisons on a product-by-product basis.In my post[Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I drew the analogy that the IT supermarkets (IBM, HP, Sun and Dell) are focusedon selling solutions, but the IT specialty shops (HDS, EMC, and others) are still focused on products.
Certainly, the transition from product-focused to solution-focused is not an easy one. As the IT industry matures, more and more clients are looking to buy solutions from theirvendors. What does it take to change behaviour of newly acquired employees, recently hired sales reps, and business partners, many of whom come from product-centric cultures, to match this dramatic shift in the marketplace? Let's take a look at change in other areas of the world.
On the[Freakonomics blog], Stephen Dubner discusses how clever people in Israel have figured out a way to get people to clean up after their pets in public places. This is a problem in many countries. Here we see an old idea, the [carrot-and-stick] approach, combined with newinformation technology. Here's an excerpt:
"In order to keep a city’s streets clean of dog poop, require dog owners to submit DNA samples from their pets when they get licenses; then use that DNA database to trace any left-behind poop and send the dogs’ owners stiff fines.
Well, it took three years but the Israeli city of Petah Tikva has actually put this plan to work:
The city will use the DNA database it is building to match feces to a registered dog and identify its owner.
Owners who scoop up their dogs’ droppings and place them in specially marked bins on Petah Tikva’s streets will be eligible for rewards of pet food coupons and dog toys.
But droppings found underfoot in the street and matched through the DNA database to a registered pet could earn its owner a municipal fine."
Sometimes, if enough people change, then changing behaviours of the few remaining becomes much easier. DanLockton on his Architectures of Control blog posts about the[London Design Festival - Greengaged]. This year, the festival focused on behavior changes for a greener environment, ecodesign and sustainable issues in design.Here's an excerpt and corresponding 5-minute YouTube video:
Lea argued three important points relevant to behaviour change:
Behaviour change requires behaviour (i.e. the behaviour of others: social effects are critical, as we respond to others’ behaviour which in turn affects our own; targeting the ‘right’ people allows behaviour to spread)
Behaviour and motivation are two different things: To change behaviour, you need to understand and work with people’s motivations - which may be very different for different people.
Desire is not enough: lots of people desire to behave differently, but it needs to be very easy for them to do it before it actually happens."
Of course, tax and government regulations can heavily influence behaviour and decisions. Since today is[International Talk Like a Pirate Day], I thought I would finish this post off with this interesting piece on Google barges. Some companies, like IBM and Google, seem more adaptable to changing behaviour and trying out fresh new ideas.Will Runyon over on the Raised Floor blog, has a post about Google's patent for[Data center barges on the sea]:"The idea is to use waves to power the data centers, ocean water to cool them, and a moored distance of seven miles or more to avoid paying taxes."
Arrr! Now that's what I call a new way of looking at things!
Next Monday, September 1, 2008, marks my two year "blogoversary" for this blog!
I won't be blogging on Monday, of course, because that is [Labor Day] holiday here in the United States.
(From a Canadian colleague: US is not the only country who celebrates Labor Day on the first weekend in September. Canada also celebrates Labour Day on the first weekend in September. It's the only holiday(other than Christmas/New Years) where we are in sync with US. Our Thanksgiving Days are different as is your July 4 vs our July 1. But for Labour Day we are one with the Borg...)
(From an Australian colleague: each province of Australia has its own day to celebrate Labor Day, see [Australia Public Holidays])
The rest of the world celebrates Labor Day on May 1, but the USA celebrates this on the first Monday of September, which this year lands on September 1.Originally, the day is intended to be a "day off for working citizens", IBM is kind enough to let managers and marketingpersonnel have the day off also. (Not that anyone is going to notice no press releases next Monday, right?)
I started this blog on September 1, 2006 as part of IBM's big["50 Years of Disk Systems Innovation"] campaign. IBM introduced the first commercial disk system on September 13, 1956 and so the 50th anniversary was in 2006. Last year, IBM celebrated the 55th anniversary of tape systems.
Several readers have asked me why I haven't talked about recent current events, such as the Olympic Games in Beijing, or the U.S. National Conventions for the race for U.S. President. I have to remind them of one of the key precepts of IBMblogging guidelines:
8. Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in IBM’s workplace. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory - such as politics and religion.
I made subtle references to my senator from Arizona, John McCain, in my post [ILM for my iPod], and to Barack Obama in my post [Searching for matching information]. I don't think anyone would mind that I send a "Happy Birthday!" wish to both of them.Senator McCain turns 72 years old today, and Senator Obama turned 47 years old earlier this month.
And lastly, Tucson itself [celebrates this entire month] its 233rd birthday. That's right,Tucson, the 32nd largest city of the USA, and headquarters for IBM System Storage, is older than the USA itself.While the Tucson area has been continuously inhabited by humans for over 3500 years, it officially became Tucsonon August 20, 1775.
Fellow blogger Justin Thorp has opined that [blogging is like jogging]. Somedays, you are just too busy to do it, and other days, you make time for it, because you know it is important.For the record, it is not my job to blog for IBM, that ended last September 2007. I continue to blog anyways because I have benefited from it, both personally and professionally.I want to thank all of you readers out there for making this blog a great success! Being named one of the top 10 blogs of the IT storage industry by Network World, two back-to-back Brand Impact awards from Liquid Agency, and recently earning a "31" Technorati ranking, has really helped keep me going.
So, I look forward to next month, and beginning my third year on this blog. I am sure there will be lots of surprises and announcements you can all look forward to in the next coming weeks and months that I will have plenty to write about.
"IBM says revenue for its mainframe business rose 32% in the second quarter compared with a year earlier, easily outpacing overall sales growth of 13%.A big driver was February's launch of IBM's next-generation mainframe line, the z10, its first big upgrade since 2004. IBM spent about $1.5 billion on the new line.
With their power and size, mainframes have some unique advantages over (distributed) servers. Many companies cobble together many servers, powered by industry standard chips made by Intel (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices, (AMD) to do jobs that were once the province of mainframes. IBM, too, sells such servers.
IBD: Can you tell me more about this business?
Gelardi: Traditionally, the mainframe was the back-office powerhouse for batch and transactional processing — sort of the thing behind banks, the thing behind retailers, the thing behind insurance companies.
It's the thing that, if you screw this up, you just gave your whole business away. The new thing, which is really sort of the second driver of growth, is the introduction of Linux (an open-source operating system popular with some servers) on the mainframe. Z-Linux (IBM's Linux mainframe software) is where we have been able to drive substantially new workloads to the mainframe.
IBD: Why is the mainframe business important to IBM?
Gelardi: It's a very differentiated product environment where we feel very confident that we can say to a client, look, we built this thing from the casters all the way up; the software stack, all the way up. We've built into this a level of performance and scalability and efficiency. We're very, very confident that we can resolve any issue (for customers).
Let me give you an example. If I take (1,500 Intel) servers . . . and put them on a single mainframe, I'll have no performance problems whatsoever. But I'm taking all of that workload that was on 1,500 separate servers and consolidating them on one mainframe. While it may be a million-dollar machine and up, it's actually cheaper than those 1,500 servers.
IBD: What are some big drivers for your clients today?
Gelardi: Energy. If you look at a workload on a previous generation mainframe, z9, for the equivalent performance on a z10, I'm going to use 15% less energy for the same amount of performance.
Look at the (physical data-center space) in the industry. The question used to be, "How much space do you want?" The question now is, "How much energy are you going to consume?" It's more efficient to manage the work loads inside the larger (mainframe).
IBD: So, you're saying that using a mainframe addresses these modern problems better than servers?
IBD: Is it hard to convince people of that?
Gelardi: It's a legitimate question for clients who never had a mainframe. There are a few. (In those cases) it will probably be more complicated (to convince them).
However, a year or so ago we put out a press release about an entertainment (company). Their story was, "We're going to build a new gaming environment." Long story short, they said, "Why not use the mainframe?" There are new clients coming to the mainframe.
IBD: Do mainframes help other IBM businesses?
Gelardi: Clearly. I have very broad coverage. We are the server vendor. We have the storage capacity; we have the operating environment; we have the software stack, (including) Websphere, Tivoli, DB2. We have the services capabilities. We have the consulting capability. You can sort of go on. It becomes an ecosystem that is really valuable to the company at large.
IBD: What mainframe customers were active in the second quarter?
Gelardi: Interesting enough (given the state of the industry), the financial services sector was very strong. That was particularly true in the Americas and in Europe. We have a pretty broad spread (of users), but there is no question that financial services is a core market."
IBM offers a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than HP or Sun can offer. For more about the IBM System z10 EC, see my posts last month:
The comic combines the recent popularity in cookbooks to help parents get their children to eat morevegetables, such as Jessica Seinfeld's [Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food], with the popularity of the latest Batman movie, [The Dark Knight]. To be fair, I have not reviewed the recipe book,but certainly being the wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld and mother of his children sufficiently qualifies her to write such a book. I did have the pleasure to see this movie at an IMAX movie theater in Hartford, CT a few weeks ago. I highly recommend it. (See also my friend Pam's awesome [review of this movie]).Some have argued the movie franchise has "gone dark" from the previous Batman movies and may not be appropriatefor children. Hiding vegetables in meals may not the right thing for children either.
Unlike IBM that repeatedly delivers unique and innovative new products to the marketplace, Microsoft pulls theold ["bait and switch"] routine. In a series of hiddencamera interviews, Microsoft asks skeptical people who have never used Microsoft Vista operating system their opinions.As expected, all express concerns of problems they have heard about Microsoft's new OS, from friends, colleagues or Apple television advertisements. On a scale of 0 (won't touch it) to 10 (can't wait to have it), the averageskeptic rated Vista with a paltry 4.4 score.
The Microsoft interviewers then show them the new "Microsoft Mojave" Operating System, and askthese same skeptics for their opinions, of which many (35 out of 140 by one account) express they like it, find this new OS usefuland intuitive. The interviewers then explain that this Mojave OS was nothing more than the existing Vista OS alreadyin the marketplace. The average rating for Mojave OS was a significantly higher 8.5 score.Just like hiding spinach in a meal to get your kids to eat it. They tricked you, and you saidyou liked it!
Perhaps the key take-away is whom should prospective customers listen to when evaluating a new product. Microsoftis reasonable in feeling that customers should not base their opinions about Vista solely on lopsided Apple televisioncommercials. Apple, Inc. is one of Microsoft's primary competitors. I feel, however, that if you have friends or colleagues who have shared with you their hands-on experiences, that indeed should have much higher weighting.
Nothing, of course, beats personal experience. If you want to try out one of IBM's latest products for yourself, please contact your local IBM Business Partner or IBM sales representative.
I was warned that this musical would be nearly three hours long, that the singing and dialogue would be in Hindi language, and there would be no English subtitles. I don't speak Hindi, and would not be able to understand a single word the actors said.
How bad could it be?
Despite the fact that there were nearly 20 members in the cast, the story jumps back and forth in both place and time, with some dream sequences thrown in for cinematic effect, I was able to understand quite a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie! Perhaps its a sign of a good movie that you can understand most of it purely from the visual aspects.
The same can be said for presentations that you give in foreign countries. Both in Japan and India, I had plenty of visuals to complement the text on the page, and the words that I spoke. Shawn over at [Anecdote] blog points to this greatpresentation by Garr Reynolds, author of [Presentation Zen]. The slide deck below has some key takeaways and quotes from Dr. John Medina's latest book "Brain Rules" that apply to presentations.
We have successfully arrived to Mumbai, India. Since this is my first time in India, I decidedto check out the town by going to the local McDonald's® restaurant. As a former software engineer of McDonald's, I love the food, and try to visit a McDonald's in every country I visit. Wikipedia calls our transportation an [Auto Rickshaw], but the locals called it a "tuk-tuk". This is not my first time in one, they have them in Thailand and Mexico as well.
We had the hotel identify the address of the closest McDonald's to our hotel. From past experienceI know that tuk-tuk drivers will suggest alternatives, in an effort to earn a larger fare, or to redirectto a preferred location where the driver might get special kick-backs. Our driver was no different.
The traffic was treacherous, the roadswere in roughshod condition, and sad looking stray dogs digging through piles of rubbish were everywhere. The local "Daily News and Analysis" newspaper this week estimates that there are over 70,000 stray dogs in Mumbai alone.What to do with all of these strays is a matter of controversy. In preparation for the Olympic games, China hasasked its restaurants to [take"dog" off their menus].Having lived in one of the poorest countries, and one of the richest, nothing surprises me anymore.
My IBM colleague, Curtis Neal, decided to join me for this adventure. Finally, after about 20 minutes, our driver parks the tuk-tuk. He told us the restaurant is only aboutthree blocks away by foot, he would allow us to treat him to lunch, and then he will take us back to the hotel.While we appreciated his fantastic imagination, we told him we just wanted to be taken one-way to the restaurant, to drop us off at the front door, and we would find another tuk-tuk for the return.
After a bit of argument, we settled on being left only one block away, and we would walk the rest.While we could not see exactly where the restaurant was when we got out, he at least pointed us in the right direction.
The problem was that we approached the restaurant from behind, and came up to its equivalent of a "drive thru" window,ordered our food, and then went to the second window to pick up our order. We were eating on the street. It was not until I decided to take this photo of the restaurant, that we discovered there was an entire seating area upstairs, and around the cornerthe main entrance!
There were plenty of tuk-tuks picking up and dropping people off, so we have no idea why ourprevious driver was unwilling to take us the entire distance.
Cows are sacred here in India, so thereare no beef-based hamburgers to choose from. My choices for sandwiches were:
Since my nutritionist asked me to avoid carbs and fried foods, I chose the McChicken with cheese combo meal with fries and a Coke.
Getting back was also a challenge. While we had no problem haling a tuk-tuk, we had no idea the address of ourhotel, and our driver had no idea where it was. We ended up driving around the city until we found a differenthotel, asked them if they knew where it was, and then eventually getting to our hotel. This is something I shouldhave planned for in advance, getting a card with the hotel details on it before leaving.
While it might seem like a simple trip, Curtis and I probably learned more about India this way than spending a week inside the comforts of our hotel.
A faithful reader of this blog, Tom, sent me a link to Orson Scott Card's article titled[PROGRAMMERS AS BEES (or, how to kill a software company)]. "Is there any truth in this?" Tom asked?Having worked both sides of this fence as I approach my 22 year anniversary at IBM, I guess I can venturesome opinions on this piece. Let's start with this excerpt:
"The environment that nurtures creative programmers kills management and marketing types - and vice versa."
By this, he means "kills" in the UNIX sense, I imagine, and not the "Grand Theft Auto IV" sense.Different people solve problems differently. Some programmers have the luxury that theycan often focus on a single platform, single chipset, single OS, and so on, but Marketing types are tryingto come up with messaging that appeals to a broad audience, from people with business backgrounds to others with moretechnical backgrounds, and that can be more challenging. For programmers, "creative" is an adjective; formarketers, it's a noun.
"Programming is the Great Game. It consumes you, body and soul. When you're caught up in it, nothing else matters."
True. As a storage consultant, I find myself writing code a lot, from small programs, scripts, and even HTML codefor this blog. When you are in your zone, working on something, one can easily lose track of time.
"Here's the secret that every successful software company is based on: You can domesticate programmers the way beekeepers tame bees. You can't exactly communicate with them, but you can get them to swarm in one place and when they're not looking, you can carry off the honey. You keep these bees from stinging by paying them money. More money than they know what to do with. But that's less than you might think."
I have never tamed bees, but many of my friends who are still programmers are motivated by factors other thanmaximizing their income, such as: friendly co-workers, job security, casual attire, and interesting challenges. A few make more than they know what to do with, the rest have girlfriends"significant others" who solve that problem for them.
"One way or another, marketers get control. But...control of what? Instead of finding assembly lines of productive workers, they quickly discover that their product is produced by utterly unpredictable, uncooperative, disobedient, and worst of all, unattractive people who resist all attempts at management."
False. Either marketing had control in the first place (ala Apple, Inc.) or they never had. "Control of what?" is the key phrase here.
"The shock is greater for the coder, though. He suddenly finds that alien creatures control his life. Meetings, Schedules, Reports. And now someone demands that he PLAN all his programming and then stick to the plan, never improving, never tweaking, and never, never touching some other team's code."
True. But if you don't like surprises, perhaps software engineering is not the right career path for you.
"The hive has been ruined. The best coders leave. And the marketers, comfortable now because they're surrounded by power neckties and they have things under control, are baffled that each new iteration of their software loses market share as the code bloats and the bugs proliferate. Got to get some better packaging. Yeah, that's it."
This one depends. I've seen teams survive and manage, with junior programmers stepping up to backfill leadership roles, and other times, projects are scrapped, or started anew elsewhere. As for marketers, it doesn't take much to get one baffled, does it?
I'm glad this is the final day of the IBM Systems Technical Conference (STC08) here in Los Angeles.While I enjoyed the conference, one quickly reaches saturation point with all the information presented.
XIV Architecture Overview
Before this conference, many of the attendees didn't understandIBM's strategy, didn't understand Web 2.0 and Digital archive workloads,and didn't understand why IBM acquired XIV to offer "yet another disk systemthat servers LUNs to distributed server platforms." Brian Shermanchanged all that!
Brian Sherman, IBM Advanced Technical Support (ATS), is part of the exclusive dedicated XIVtechnical team to install these boxes at client locations, so he is very knowledgeable with the technical aspects of the architecture. He presented what the current XIV-branded model that clients can purchase now in select countries, and what the IBM-branded model will change when available worldwide.
Those who missed my earlier series on XIV can find them here:
Beyond this, Brian gave additional information on how thin provisioning, storage pools, disk mirroring, consistency groups, management consoles, and microcode updates are implemented.
N series and VMware Deep Dive
Norm Bogard, IBM Advanced Technical Support, presented why the IBM N series makes such great disk storage for VMware
deployments. This wasclearly labeled as a "deep dive", so anyone who got lost in all of theacronyms could not blame Norm for misrepresentation.
IBM has been doing server virtualization for over 40 years, so it makes sense thatit happens to be the number one reseller of VMware offerings.VMware ESX server is a hypervisor that runs on x86 host, and provides an emulationlayer for "guest Operating Systems". Each guest can hvae one or more virtualdisks, which are represented by VMware as VMDK files. VMware ESX server acceptsread/write requests from the guests, and forwards them on to physical storage.Many of VMware's most exciting features requires storage to be external to thehost machine. [VMotion]allows guests to move from one host to another, [Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS)]allows a set of hosts to load-balance the guestsacross the hosts, and [High Availability (HA)] allows the guests on a failed hostto be resurrected on a surviving host. All of these require external disk storage.
ESX server allows up to 256 LUNs, attached via FCP and/or iSCSI, and up to 32 NFS mount points. Across LUNs, ESX server uses VMFS file system, which is a clusteredfile system like IBM GPFS that allows multiple hosts to access the same LUNs.ESX server has its own built-in native multipathing driver, and even provides FCP-iSCSIand iSCSI multipathing. In other words, you can have a LUN on an IBM System Storage N series thatis attached over both FCP and iSCSI, so if the SAN switch or HBA fails, ESX servercan failover to the iSCSI connection.
ESX server can use NFS protocol to access the VMDK files instead. While the default is only 8 NFS mount points, you can increase this to 32 mount points. NAS can takeadvantage of Link Aggregate Control Protocol [LACP] groups, what some call "trunking" or "EtherChannel". This is the ability to consolidate multiple streams onto fewer inter-switch Ethernet links, similar to what happens on SAN switches.For the IBM N series, IBM recommends a "fixed" path policy, rather than "most recently used".
IBM recommends disabling SnapShot schedules, and setting the Snap reserve to 0 percent.Why? A snapshot of an ESX server datastore has the VMDK files of many guests, all of which would have had to quiesce or stop to make the data "crash consistent" for theSnapshot of the datastore to even make any sense. So, if you want to take Snapshots, itshould be something you coordinate with the ESX server and its guest OS images, and notscheduled by the N series itself.
If you are running NFS protocol to N series, you can turn off the "accesstime" updates. In normal file systems, when you read a file, it updates the"access time" in the file directory. This can be useful if you are looking forfiles that haven't been read in a while, such as software that migrates infrequentlyaccessed files to tape. Assuming you are not doing that on your N series, you might as well turnoff this feature, and reduce the unnecessary write activity to the IBM N series box.
ESX server can also support "thin provisioning" on the IBM N series. There isa checkbox for "space reserved". Checked means "thick provisioning" and uncheckedmeans "thin provisioning". If you decide to use "thin provisioning" with VMware,you should consider setting AutoSize to automatically increase your datastorewhen needed, and to auto-delete-snap your oldest snapshots first.
The key advantage of using NFS rather than FCP or iSCSI is that it eliminates theuse of the VMFS file system. IBM N series has the WAFL file system instead, andso you don't have to worry about VMFS partition alignment issue. Most VMDK aremisaligned, so the performance is sub-optimal. If you can align each VMDK to a32KB or 64KB boundary (depending on guest OS), then you can get better performance.WAFL does this for you automatically, but VMFS does not. For Windows guests, use "Windows PE" to configurecorrectly-aligned disks. For UNIX or Linux guests, use "fdisk" utility.
What Industry Analysts are saying about IBM
Vic Peltz gave a presentation highlighting the accolades from securities analysts, IT analysts, and newsagencies about IBM and IBM storage products. For example, analysts like that IBM offersmany of the exciting new technologies their clients are demanding, like "thin provisioning", RAID-6 double-drive protection,SATA and Solid State Disk (SSD) drive technology.Analysts also like that IBM is open to non-IBM heterogeneous environments. Whereas EMC Celerra gateways supportonly EMC disk, IBM N series gateways and IBM SAN Volume Controller support a mix of IBM and non-IBM equipment.
Analysts also like IBM's "datacenter-wide" approach to issues like security and "Green IT". Rather than focusingon these issues with individual point solutions, IBM attacks these challenges with a complete"end-to-end" solution approach. A typical 25,000 square foot data center consumes $2.6 million dollars USD in power andcooling today, and IBM has proven technologies to reduce this cost in half. IBM's DS8000 on average consume26.5 to 27.8 percent less electricity than a comparable EMC DMX-4 disk system. IBM's tape systemsconsume less energy than comparable Sun or HP models.
IBM iDataPlex product technical presentation
Vallard Benincosa, IBM Technical Sales Specialist, presented the recently-announced [IBM System x iDataPlex].This is designed for our clients that have thousands of x86 servers, that buy servers "racks at a time", tosupport Web 2.0 and digital archive workloads. The iDataPlex is designed for efficient power and cooling,rapid scalability, and usable server density.
iDataPlex is such a radical design departure, that it might be difficult to describe in words.Most racks take up two floor tiles, each tile is 2 foot by 2 foot square. In that space, a traditionalrack would have servers that were 19 inches wide slide in horizontally, with flashing lights and hot-swappabledisks in the front, and all the power supply, fans and networking connections in the back. Even with IBM BladeCenter,you have chassis in these racks, and then servers slide in vertically in the front, and all of the power supply, fanand networking connections in the back. To access these racks, you have to be able to open the door on boththe front and back. And the cooling has to go through at least 26.5 inches from the front of the equipment to the back.
iDataPlex turns the rack sideways. Instead of two feet wide, and four feet deep, it is four feet wide, and two feet deep.This gives you two 19 inch columns to slide equipment into, and the air only has to travel 15 inches from frontto back. Less distance makes cooling more efficient.
Next, iDataPlex makes only thing in the back the power cord, controlled by an intelligent power distribution unit (iPDU) so you can turnthe power off without having to physically pull the plug. Everything else is serviced from the front door.This means that the back door can now be an optional "Rear Door Heat Exchanger" [RDHX] that is filled with running water to makecooling the rack extremely efficient. Water from a cooler distirubtion unit (CDU) can power about threeto four RDHX doors.
Let's say you wanted to compare traditional racks with iDataPlex for 84 servers. You can put 42 "1U" serversin two racks each, each rack requires 10 kVA (kilo-volt-amps) so you give it two 8.6 kVA feeds each, that is fourfeeds, and at $1500-2000 dollars USD per month, will cost you $6000-8000. The iDataPlex you can fit 84 serversin one 20 kVA rack, with only three 8.6 kVA feeds, saving you $1500-2000 dollars USD per month.
Fans are also improved. Fan efficiency is based on their diameter, so small fans in 1U servers aren't as effective as iDataPlex's 2U fans, saving about 12-49W per server. Whereas typical 1U server racks spend 10-20percent of their energy on the fans, the iDataPlex spends only about 1 percent, saving 8 to 36 kWH per year per rack.
Each 2U chassis snaps into a single power supply and a bank of 2U fans. A "Y"power cord allows you to have one cord for two power supplies. A chassis can hold either two small server "flexnodes"or one big "flexnode". An iDataPlex rack can hold up to 84 small servers or 42 big servers. Since each "Y" cord can power up to four "flexnode" servers, you greatly reduce the number of PDU sockets taken,leaving some sockets available for traditional 1U switches.
The small "flexnode" server can have one 3.5 inch HDD, or two 2.5 inch HDD, either SAS or SATA, and the big "flexnode" can have twice these.If you need more storage, there is a 2U chassis that holds five 3.5 inch HDD or eight 2.5 inch HDD. These areall "simple-swappable" (servers must be powered down to pull out the drives). For hot-swappable drives, a 3Uchassis with twelve 3.5 inch SAS or SATA drives.
The small "flexnode" server has one [PCI Express] slot, the big servers have two. Thesecould be used for [Myrinet] clustering. With only 25W power,the PCI Express slots cannot support graphics cards.
The iDataPlex is managed using the "Extreme Cluster Administration Toolkit" [XCAT]. This is an open source project under Eclipse that IBM contributes to.
Finally was the concept of "pitch". This is the distance from the center of one "cold aisle" to the next "cold aisle".On typical data centers, a pitch is 9 to 11 tiles. With the iDataPlex it is only three tiles when using the RDHX doors, or six tiles without. Most data centers run out of power and cooling before they run out of floor space, so having more dense equipmentdoesn't help if it doesn't also use less electricity.Since the iDataPlex uses 40 percent less power and cooling, you can pack more racks persquare foot of an existing data center floor with the existing power and cooling available. That is what IBM calls "usable density"!
What Did You Say? Effective Questioning and Listening Techniques
Maria L. Anderson, IBM Human Resources Learning, gave this "professional development" talk. I deal with different clients every week, so I fully understand that there is a mix of art and science incrafting the right questions and listening to the responses.The focus was on howto ask better questions and improve the understanding and communication during consultative engagements. Thisinvolves the appropriate mix of closed and open-ended questions, exchanging or prefacing as needed. This wasa good overview of the ERIC technique (Explore, Refine, Influence, and Confirm).
Well, that wraps up my week here in Los Angeles.Special thanks to my two colleagues, Jack Arnold and Glenn Hechler, both from the Tucson Executive Briefing Center,who helped me prepare and review my presentations!
Continuing this week in Los Angeles, I went to some interesting sessions today at theSystems Technical Conference (STC08).
System Storage Productivity Center (SSPC) - Install and Configuration
Dominic Pruitt, an IBM IT specialist in our Advanced Technical Support team, presented SSPC and howto install and configure it. For those confused between the difference of TotalStorage ProductivityCenter and System Storage Productivity Center, the former is pure software that you install on aWindows or Linux server, and the latter is an IBM server, pre-installed with Windows 2003, TotalStorageProductivity Center software, TPCTOOL command line interface, DB2 Universal Database, the DS8000 Element Manager, SVC GUI and CIMOM, and [PuTTY] rLogin/SSH/Telnet terminal application software.
Of course, the problem with having a server pre-installed with a lot of software is that there is alwayssomeone that wants to customize it further. For those who just want to manage their DS8000 disk systems,for example, it is possible to uninstall the SVC GUI, CIMOM and PuTTY, and re-install them later when youchange your mind. As a general rule, it is not wise to mix CIMOMs on the same machine, as it might causeconflicts with TCP ports or Java level requirements, so if you want a different CIMOM than SVC, uninstallthe SVC CIMOM first. For those who have SVC, the SSPC replaces the SVC Master Console, so you can safelyturn off the SVC CIMOM on your existing SVC Master Consoles.
The base level is TotalStorage Productivity Center "Basic Edition", but you can upgrade the Productivity Centerfor Disk, Data and Fabric components with license keys. You can also run Productivity Center for Replication,but IBM recommends adding processor and memory to do this (IBM offers this as an orderable option).Whether you have the TotalStorage software or SSPC hardware, Productivity Center has a cool role-to-groups mapping feature.You can create user groups, either on the Windows server, the Active Directory, or other LDAP, and then map which roles should be assigned to users in each group.
Since Productivity Center manages a variety of different disk systems, it has made anattempt to standardize some terminology. The term "storage pool" refers to an extentpool on the DS8000, or a managed disk group on the SAN Volume Controller. Since the DS8000 can support both mainframe CKD volumes and LUNs for distributed systems, theterm "volume" refers to a CKD volume or LUN, and "disk" refers to the hard disk drive (HDD).
To help people learn Productivity Center, IBM offers single-day "remote workshops"that use Windows Remote Desktop to allow participants to install, customize and usethe software with no travel required.
IBM Integrated Approach to Archiving
Dan Marshall, IBM global program manager for storage and data services on our Global Technology Services team, presented IBM's corporate-wide integration to support archive across systems, software and services.One attendee asked me why I was there, given that "archive" is one of my areas of subject matter expertise that I present often at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center. I find it useful to watch others present the material, even material that I helped to develop, to see a different slant or spin on each talking point.
Archive is one area that brings all parts of IBM together: systems, software and services.Dan provided a look at archive from the services angle, providing an objective unbiasedview of the different software and systems available to solve specific challenges.
Encryption Key Manager (EKM) Design and Implementation
Jeff Ziehm, IBM tape technical sales specialist, presented IBM's EKM software, how it works in a tape environment, and how to deploy it in various environments. Since IBM is allabout being open and non-proprietary, the EKM software runs on Java on a variety ofIBM and non-IBM operating systems. IBM offers "keytool" command line interface (CLI) for the LTO4 and TS1120 tape systems, and "iKeyMan" graphical user interface (GUI) for theTS1120. Since it runs on Java, IBM Business Partners and technical support personneloften just [download and install EKM]onto their own laptops to learn how to use it.
Virtual Tape Update
We had three presenters at this one. First, Jeff Mulliken, formerly from Diligent and now a full IBM employee, presented the current ProtecTier softwarewith the HyperFactor technology, then Abbe Woodcock, IBM tape systems, compared Diligent with IBM's TS7520 and just-announced TS7530virtual tape libraries, and finally Randy Fleenor, IBM tape sales leader, presented IBM's strategy going forward in tape virtualization.
Let's start with Diligent. The ProtecTier software runs on any x86-64 server withat least four cores and the correct Emulex host bus adapter (HBA) cards. Using Red HatEnterprise Linux (RHEL) as a base, the ProtecTier software performs its deduplication entirely in-lineat an "ingest rate" of 400-450 MB/sec. This is all possible using 4GB memory-resident "dictionary table" that can map up to 1 PB of back end physical storage, which could represent as much as 25PB of "nominal" storage. Theserver is then point-to-point or SAN-attached to Fibre Channel disk systems.
As we learned yesterday from Toby Marek's session, there are four ways to performdeduplication:
full-file comparisons. Store only one copy of identical files.
fixed-chunk comparisons. Files are carved up into fixed-size chunks, and each chunkis compared or hashed to existing chunks to eliminate duplicates.
variable-chunk comparisons. Variable-length chunks are hashed or diffed to eliminate duplicate data.
content-aware comparisons. If you knew data was in Powerpoint format, for example,you could compare text, photos or charts against other existing Powerpoint files toeliminate duplicates.
IBM System Storage N series Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS) uses fixed-chunkmethod, and Diligent uses variable-chunk comparisons. Diligent does this using "dataprofiling". For example, let's say most of my photographs are pictures of people, buildings, landscapes, flowers and IT equipment. When I back these up, the Diligentserver "profiles" each, and determines if any existing data have a similar profilethat might have at least 50 percent similar content. Diligent than reads in the data that is mostly likely similar, does a byte-for-byte ["diff" comparison], and creates variable-lengthchunks that are either identical or unique to sections of the existing data. Theunique data is compressed with LZH and written to disk, and the sequential series of pointer segments representing the ingested file is written in a separate section on disk.
That Diligent can represent profiles for 1PB of data in as little as 4GB memory-residentdictionary is incredible. By comparison, 10TB data would require 10 million entries on a content-aware solution, and 1.25 billion entries for one based on hash-codes.
Abbe Woodcock presented the TS7530 tape system that IBM announced on Tuesday. It has some advantages over the current Diligent offering:
Hardware-based compression (TS7520 and Diligent use software-based compression)
1200 MB/sec (faster ingest rate than Diligent)
1.7PB of SATA disk (more disk capacity than Diligent)
Support for i5/OS (Diligent's emulation of ATL P3000 with DLT7000 tapes not supported on IBM's POWER systems running i5/OS)
Ability to attach a real tape library
NDMP backup to tape
tape "shredding" (virtual equivalent of degaussing a physical tape to erase all previously stored data)
Randy Fleenor wrapped up the session telling us IBM's strategy going forward with all of thevirtual tape systems technologies. Until then, IBM is working on "recipes" or "bundles", puttingDiligent software with specific models of IBM System x servers and IBM System Storage DS4000 disk systemsto avoid the "do-it-yourself" problems of its current software-only packaging.
Understanding Web 2.0 and Digital Archive Workloads
I got to present this in the last time slot of the day, just before everyone headed off to the [Westin Bonaventure hotel] for our big fancy barbecue dinner. Like my previous sessionon IBM Strategy, this session was more oriented toward a sales audience, but both garnereda huge turn-out and were well-received by the technical attendees.
This session was requested because these new applications and workloads are what is driving IBM to acquire small start-ups like XIV, deploy Scale-Out File Services (SOFS), and develop the innovative iDataPlex server rack.
The session was fun because it was a mix of explanation of the characteristics ofWeb 2.0 services; my own experience as a blogger and user of Google Docs, FlickR, Second Life andTivo; and an exploration in how database and digital archives will impact thegrowth in computing and storage requirements.
I'll expand on some of these topics in later blog posts.