Continuing my coverage of the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011], I participated in the storage free-for-all, which is a long-time tradition, started at SHARE User Group conference, and carried forward to other IT conferences. The free-for-all is a Q&A Panel of experts to allow anyone to ask any question. These are sometimes called "Birds of a Feather" (BOF). Last year, we had two: one focused on Tivoli Storage software, and the second to cover storage hardware. This year, we had two, one for System x called "Ask the eXperts", and one for System Storage called "Storage Free-for-All". This post covers the latter.
(Disclaimer: Do not shoot the messenger! We had a dozen or more experts on the panel, representing System Storage hardware, Tivoli Storage software, and Storage services. I took notes, trying to capture the essence of the questions, and the answers given by the various IBM experts. I have spelled out acronyms and provided links to relevant materials. The answers from individual IBMers may not reflect the official position of IBM management. Where appropriate, my own commentary will be in italics.)
Are there any plans to improve the use of BRMS [Backup Recovery and Media Services for IBM i
] with [Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM)
It should be against the law to connect these two together. IBM has no plans to make any further improvements.
When will [IBM BladeCenter S
] support 2.5-inch drives?
You are in the wrong session! Go to "Ask the eXperts" session next door!
The TSM GUI sucks! Are there any plans to improve it?
Yes, we are aware that products like IBM XIV have raised the bar for what people expect from graphical user interfaces. We have plans to improve the TSM GUI. IBM's new GUI for the SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000 has been well-received, and will be used as a template for the GUIs of other storage hardware and software products. The GUI uses the latest HTML5, Dojo widgets and AJAX technologies, eliminating Java dependencies on the client browser.
Can we run the TSM Admin GUI from a non-Windows host?
IBM has plans to offer this. Most likely, this will be browser-based, so that any OS with a modern browser can be used.
As hard disk drives grow larger in capacity, RAID-5 becomes less viable. What is IBM doing to address this?
IBM is aware of this problem. IBM offers RAID-DP on the IBM N series, RAID-X on the IBM XIV, and RAID-6 on its other disk systems.
TPC licensing is outrageous! What is IBM going to do about it?
IBM introduced the [Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Disk Midrange Edition (MRE)] to help address the cost when Small and Medium-sized Businesses managing SVC, Storwize V7000, DS5000 and DS3000 disk systems.
What is the adoption rate of IBM Easy Tier?
About 25 percent of DS8000 disk systems have SSD installed. Now that IBM DS8000 Easy Tier supports "any two" tiers, roughly 50 percent of DS8000 now have Easy Tier activated. No idea on how Easy Tier has been adopted on SVC or Storwize V7000.
We have an 8-node SVC cluster, should we put 8 SSD drives into a single node-pair, or spread them out?
We recommend putting a separate Solid-State Drive in each SVC node, with RAID-1 between nodes of a node-pair. By separating the SSD across I/O groups, you can reduce node-to-node traffic.
How well has SVC 6.2 been adopted?
The inventory call-home data is not yet available. The only SVC hardware model that does not support this level of software was the 2145-4F2 introduced in 2003. Every other model since then can be updated to this level.
Will IBM offer 600GB FDE drives for the IBM DS8700?
Currently, IBM offers 300GB and 450GB 15K RPM drives with the Full-Disk Encryption (FDE) capability for the DS8700, and 450GB and 600GB 10K RPM drives with FDE for the IBM DS8800. IBM is working with its disk suppliers to offer FDE on other disk capacities, and on SSD and NL-SAS drives as well, so that all can be used with IBM Easy Tier.
Is there a reason for the feature lag between the Easy Tier capabilities of the DS8000, and that of the SVC/Storwize V7000?
We have one team for Easy Tier, so they implement it first on DS8000, then port it over to SVC/Storwize V7000.
Does it even make sense to have separate storage tiers, especially when you factor in the cost of SVC and TPC to make it manageable?
It depends! We understand this is a trade-off between cost and complexity. Most data centers have three or more storage tiers already, so products like SVC can help simplify interoperability.
Are there best practices for combining SVC with DS8000? Can we share one DS8000 system across two or more SVC clusters?
Yes, you can share one DS8000 across multiple SVC clusters. DS8000 has auto-restripe, so consider having two big extent pools. The queue depth is 3 to 60, so aim to have up to 60 managed disks on your DS8000 assigned to SVC. The more managed disks the better.
The IBM System Storage Interopability Center (SSIC) site does not seem to be designed well for SAN Volume Controller.
Yes, we are aware of that. It was designed based on traditional Hardware Compatability Lists (HCL), but storage virtualization presents unique challenges.
How does the 24-hour learning period work for IBM Easy Tier? We have batch processing that runs from 2am to 8am on Sundays.
You can have Easy Tier monitor across this batch job window, and turn Easy Tier management between tiers on and off as needed.
Now that NetApp has acquired LSI, is the DS3000 still viable?
Yes, IBM has a strong OEM relationship with both NetApp and LSI, and this continues after the acquisition.
If have managed disks from a DS8000 multi-rank extent pool assigned to multiple SVC clusters, won't this affect performance?
Yes, possibly. Keep managed disks on seperate extent pools if this is a big concern. A PERL script is available to re-balance SVC striped volumes as needed after these changes.
Is the IBM [TPC Reporter
] a replacement for IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center?
No, it is software, available at no additional charge, that provides additional reporting to those who have already licensed Tivoli Storage Productivity Center 4.1 and above. It will be updated as needed when new versions of Productivity Center are released.
We are experiencing lots of stability issues with SDD, SDD-PCM and SDD-DSM multipathing drivers. Are these getting the development attention they deserve?
IBM's direction is to shift toward native OS-based multipathing drivers.
Is anyone actually thinking of deploying public cloud storage in the near-term?
A few hands in the audience were raised.
None of the IBM storage devices seem to have [REST API
]. Cloud storage providers are demanding this. What are IBM plans?
IBM plans to offer REST on SONAS. IBM uses SONAS internally for its own cloud storage offerings.
If you ask a DB2 specialist, an AIX specialist, and a System Storage specialist, on how to configure System p and System Storage for optimal performance, you get three different answers. Are there any IBMers who are cross-functional that can help?
Yes, for example, Earl Jew is an IBM Field Technical Support Specialist (FTSS) for both System p and Storage, and can help you with that.
Both Oracle and Microsoft recommend RAID-10 for their applications.
Don't listen to them. Feel free to use RAID-5, RAID-6 or RAID-X instead.
Resizing SVC source volumes forces ongoing FlashCopy or Metro Mirror relatiohships to be stopped. Does IBM plan to address this?
Currently, you have to stop, resize both source and target, then start the relationship again. Consider getting IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication (TPC-R).
What ever happened to IBM [Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS)
IBM continues to support this for exising clients. For new deployments, IBM offers SONAS and the Information Archive (IA).
When will I be able to move SVC volumes between I/O groups?
You can today, but it is disruptive to the operating system. IBM is investigating making this less disruptive.
Will XIV ever support the mainframe?
It does already, with support for both Linux and z/VM today. For VSE support, use SVC with XIV. For those with the new zBX extension, XIV storage can be used with all of the POWER and x86-based operating systems supported. IBM has no plans to offer direct FICON attachment for z/OS or z/TPF.
Not a question - Kudos to the TSM and ProtecTIER team in supporting native IP-based replication!
When will IBM offer POWER-based models of the XIV, SVC and other storage devices?
IBM's decision to use industry-standard x86 technology has proven quite successful. However, IBM re-looks at this decision every so many years. Once again, the last iteration determined that it was not worth doing. A POWER-based model might not beat the price/performance of current x86 models, and maintaining two separate code bases would hinder development of new innovations.
We have both System i and System z, what is IBM doing to address the fact that PowerHA and GDPS are different?
IBM TPC-R has a service offering extension to support "IBM i" environments. GDPS plans to support multi-platform environments as well.
This was a great interactive session. I am glad everyone stayed late Thursday evening to participate in this discussion.
technorati tags: IBM, storage, Tivoli, BRMS, TSM, BladeCenter, GUI, HTML5, AJAX, Dojo, SVC, Storwize V7000, RAID-10, RAID-5, RAID-6, RAID-DP, RAID-X, , DS3000, DS8000, MRE, FDE, SSIC, NetApp, LSI, PERL, SDD, Cloud, REST, SONAS, GDPS, TPC-R, TPC, Productivity Center, Earl Jew
Am I dreaming? On his Storagezilla blog, fellow blogger Mark Twomey (EMC) brags about EMC's standard benchmark results, in his post titled [Love Life. Love CIFS.]. Here is my take:
- A Full 180 degree reversal
For the past several years, EMC bloggers have argued, both in comments on this blog, and on their own blogs, that standard benchmarks are useless and should not be used to influence purchase decisions. While we all agree that "your mileage may vary", I find standard benchmarks are useful as part of an overall approach in comparing and selecting which vendors to work with, and which architectures or solution approaches to adopt, and which products or services to deploy. I am glad to see that EMC has finally joined the rest of the planet on this. I find it funny this reversal sounds a lot like their reversal from "Tape is Dead" to "What? We never said tape was dead!"
- Impressive CIFS Results
The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) has developed a series of NFS benchmarks, the latest, [SPECsfs2008] added support for CIFS. So, on the CIFS side, EMC's benchmarks compare favorably against previous CIFS tests from other vendors.
On the NFS side, however, EMC is still behind Avere, BlueArc, Exanet, and IBM/NetApp. For example, EMC's combination of Celerra gateways in front of V-Max disk systems resulted in 110,621 OPS with overall response time of 2.32 milliseconds. By comparison, the IBM N series N7900 (tested by NetApp under their own brand, FAS6080) was able to do 120,011 OPS with 1.95 msec response time.
Even though Sun invented the NFS protocol in the early 1980s, they take an EMC-like approach against standard benchmarks to measure it. Last year, fellow blogger Bryan Cantrill (Sun) gives his [Eulogy for a Benchmark]. I was going to make points about this, but fellow blogger Mike Eisler (NetApp) [already took care of it]. We can all learn from this. Companies that don't believe in standard benchmarks can either reverse course (as EMC has done), or continue their downhill decline until they are acquired by someone else.
(My condolences to those at Sun getting laid off. Those of you who hire on with IBM can get re-united with your former StorageTek buddies! Back then, StorageTek people left Sun in droves, knowing that Sun didn't understand the mainframe tape marketplace that StorageTek focused on. Likewise, many question how well Oracle will understand Sun's hardware business in servers and storage.)
- What's in a Protocol?
Both CIFS and NFS have been around for decades, and comparisons can sometimes sound like religious debates. Traditionally, CIFS was used to share files between Windows systems, and NFS for Linux and UNIX platforms. However, Windows can also handle NFS, while Linux and UNIX systems can use CIFS. If you are using a recent level of VMware, you can use either NFS or CIFS as an alternative to Fibre Channel SAN to store your external disk VMDK files.
- The Bigger Picture
There is a significant shift going on from traditional database repositories to unstructured file content. Today, as much as [80 percent of data is unstructured]. Shipments this year are expected to grow 60 percent for file-based storage, and only 15 percent for block-based storage. With the focus on private and public clouds, NAS solutions will be the battleground for 2010.
So, I am glad to see EMC starting to cite standard benchmarks. Hopefully, SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks are forthcoming?
technorati tags: IBM, tape, EMC, Mark+Twomey, Storagezilla, CIFS, NFS, Celerra, V-Max, N7900, VMware, VMDK, Sun, Oracle, StorageTek, tape, benchmarks, SPEC, SPECsfs, SPECsfs2008, SPC, SPC-1, SPC-2, NetApp, FAS6080
In his blog post, [The Lure of Kit-Cars], fellow blogger Chuck Hollis (EMC) uses an excellent analogy delineating the differences between kit-cars you build from parts, versus fully-integrated systems that you can drive off the car dealership showroom lot. The analogy holds relatively well, as IT departments can also build their infrastructure from parts, or you can get fully-integrated systems from a variety of vendors.
Is this what your data center looks like?
Certainly, this debate is not new. In my now infamous 2007 post [Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I explained that there were clients that preferred to get their infrastructure from a single IT supermarket, like IBM or HP, while others were lured into thinking that buying separate parts from butchers, bakers and candlestick makers and other specialty shops was somehow a better idea.
Chuck correctly explains that in the early years of the automobile industry, before major car manufacturers had mass-production assembly lines, putting a car together from parts was the only way cars were made. Today, only the few most avid enthusiasts build cars this way. The majority get cars from a single seller and drive away. In my post [Resolving the Identity Crisis], I postulated that EMC appeared to be trying to shed itself of the "disk-only specialty shop" image and over to be more like IBM. Not quite a full IT Supermarket, but perhaps more like a [Trader Joe's] premium-priced retailer.
(If you find that EMC's focus on integrated systems appears to be a 180-degree about-face from their historical focus on selling individual best-of-breed products, see my previous discussion of Chuck's contradictions in my blog post: [Is Storage the Next Confusopoly].)
While companies like EMC might be making this transition, there is a lot of resistance and inertia from the customer marketplace. I agree with Chuck, companies should not be building kit-cars or IT infrastructures from parts, certainly not from parts sold from different vendors. In my post [Talking about Solutions not Products], I explained how difficult it was to change behavior. CIOs, IT directors and managers need to think differently about their infrastructure. Let's take a quick look at some choices:
Following Chuck's argument, it makes no sense to build a "kit-car" combining Oracle/Sun servers with EMC storage. Oracle would argue it makes more sense to run on integrated systems, business logic on their "Exalogic" system, and database processing on their "Exadata". Benchmark after benchmark, however, IBM is able to demonstrate that Oracle applications and databases run faster on IBM systems. Customers that want to run Oracle applications can run either on a full Oracle stack, or a full IBM stack, and both do better than a kit-car including EMC parts.
- Hewlett-Packard (HP)
HP has been working hard to keep up with IBM in this area. With their their partnership with Microsoft, and acquisitions of EDS, 3Com and 3PAR, they can certainly make a case for getting a full HP stack rather than a kit-car mixing HP servers with EMC disk storage. The problem is that HP is focused on a converged infrastructure for private cloud computing, but Microsoft is focused on Azure and public cloud computing. It will be interesting when these two big companies sort this out. Definitely watch this space.
If you squint your eyes and focus on the part of the world that only has x86 machines, then Dell can be seen as an IT supermarket. In my post about [Entry-Level iSCSI Offerings], I discuss how Dell's acquisition of EqualLogic was a signal that it was trying to get away from selling EMC specialty shop products, and building up its own set of offerings internally.
Cisco is new on the server scene, but has already made quite a splash. Here, I have to agree with Chuck's logic: the only time it makes sense to buy EMC disk storage at all is when it is part of an integrated "V-block". This is not really an IT supermarket situation, instead you park your car at the "Acadia Mini-Mall" and get what you need from Trader Joe's, Cisco UCS, and VMware stores.
But wait, if what you want is running VMware on Cisco servers, you might be better off with IBM System Storage N series or NetApp storage. In his blog post about [Enhanced Secure Multi-Tenancy], fellow Blogger Val Bercovici (NetApp) provides a convincing argument of why Cisco and VMware run better on an "N-block" rather than a "V-block". IBM N series provides A-SIS deduplication, and IBM Real-time Compression can provide additional capacity and performance improvements. That might be true, but whether you get your storage from EMC, NetApp or IBM, to me, you are still working with three different vendors in any case.
Of course, following Chuck's logic, it makes more sense for people with IBM servers, whether they be mainframes, POWER systems or x86 machines, to integrate these with IBM storage, IBM software and IBM services. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware, but also has a lot of business with Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xen, Linux KVM, PowerVM, PR/SM and z/VM. While IBM has market leading servers, disk and tape systems, to compete for those RFP bids that just ask for one component or another, it prefers to sell fully-integrated systems, which IBM has been doing successfully since the 1950s.
Back in 2007, I mentioned how IBM's fully-integrated InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse [Trounced HP and Sun]. For business analytics, IBM offers the fully-integrated [IBM Smart Analytics Systems]. Today, IBM expanded its line of fully-integrated private cloud service delivery platforms with the announcement of the [IBM CloudBurst for on Power Systems], which does for POWER7 what the IBM CloudBurst for System x, Oracle Exalogic, or Acadia's V-block, do for x86.
IBM estimates that private clouds built on Power systems can be up to 70 percent less expensive than stand alone x86 servers.
Before he earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering, my father was a car mechanic. I spent much of my teenage years covered in grease, helping my father assembling cars, lifting engines, and rebuilding carburetors. Certainly this was good father-son time, and I certainly did learn something in the process. Like the automobile industry, the IT industry has matured, and it makes no financial sense to build your own IT infrastructure from parts from different vendors.
For a test drive of the industry's leading integrated IT systems, see your IBM sales rep or IBM Business Partner.
technorati tags: IBM, kit-cars, supermarkets, specialty-shops, EMC, Chuck Hollis, Oracle, HP, Sun, Dell, NetApp, InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse, Smart Analytics, CloudBurst, VMware, Cisco, Acadia
This week I am in Orlando, Florida for the IBM Edge conference. This is the last day, so it ends early for people who want to get home to their
datacenters (er.. families) for the weekend.
- How Real-Time Compression Can Maximize Storage Efficiency for Production Applications
This was a split session with two speakers. First, Ian Rimmer, Senior IT Engineer and Architect at iBurst, presented their experience with the IBM Real-Time Compression Appliance in front of NetApp NAS storage arrays. Second, Jerry Haigh, IBM offering manager for IBM System Storage, presented the new Real-Time compression feature announced this week on IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Storwize V7000.
iBurst is the #1 Wireless Telecom for South Africa. The also offer cable broadband and VOIP. They have 200 employees servicing 120,000 subscriber/households. They need to keep five years' worth of text files, and have chosen real-time compression of their NAS storage. This was before IBM acquired the Storwize company, as they have been using it for the past six years.
The monetary savings from compression was used to purchase Performance Accelerator Modules (PAM) cards for their NetApp NAS gear, which benefit from the compression (more data stored in SSD to improve performance).
For backup, they use NDMP with Symantec NetBackup that keeps data in its compressed form as it is written to tape. They have an IBM TS3100 library with LTO tape as the backup repository.
Jerry Haigh presented Real-Time compression for primary disk data. Unlike the competition, this is designed to be used with primary data, including databases, and does this real-time, not post-process. In some performance tests, DB2 compressed on 48 drives out-performed the same data uncompressed on 96 drives. In another test focused on VMware Vmark benchmark, the compressed data was able to be same or better performance as uncompressed. In a third test with SVC virtualizing XIV running Oracle ORION test, the Oracle databases compressed 50 to 64 percent, and had better performance.
For those who already have SVC or Storwize V7000, consider a 45-day trial to check out compression for yourself.
- NAS File Systems: Access and Authentication
Mark Taylor, IBM Technical Specialist for SONAS, N series and Storwize V7000 Unified, presented the nuances of authentication and authorization for NAS file systems. The differences between these two are:
- Authentication - Yes, you are who you are.
- Authorization - Yes, you are permitted to do what you are trying to do
(Prior to working with SONAS, my only experience with access and authentication in NAS was setting up my LAN at home, which I have connecting my Mac, Linux and Windows machines. I have both N series and SONAS at the IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson, Arizona, so I know first-hand how complicated NAS access and authentication systems can be.
A few months ago, I taught "Intro to NAS" as one of my topics at the Top Gun class in Argentina and Brazil. Several of the students had mentioned they thought they knew NAS solutions but had not realized all the technical issues with access and authentication that I discussed in my presentation.)
Mark explained the differences between Windows NTFS-style System identifiers (SID), versus UNIX-style user and group identifiers (UID, GID). For NAS solutions that support both CIFS and NFS, there are four options:
- Microsoft Active Director (AD) extended with Identity Management for UNIX, formerly known as Services for UNIX (SFU). AD servers normally store SID information, but the extensions add extra columns to hold UID/GID mappings.
- AD with Network Information Service (NIS) server. The problem with this approach is that AD and NIS are separate databases, and you need to coordinate updates to them, and their backups.
- Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) with SAMBA extensions. LDAP holds UID/GID information, and the SAMBA extensions adds extra columns to hold SID mapping.
- Local mapping. The dangerous part of local mapping is that the storage admin is also the security admin, and you may want different people doing these roles.
Of these four methods, Mark recommends the first and third as best practices for multi-protocol authentication.
|N series||NTFS-style||SID-to-UID mapping,|
|SONAS and Storwize V7000||SID-to-UID/GID mapping, NFS v4 ACLs||NFS v4 ACLs|
Mark then explained how NFS v4 ACLs work, basically an ordered collection of "Access Control Elements" or ACEs. Each ACE on the ACL may "allow" or "deny" the request. You want to avoid "Inheritance" as that can cause problems and unxpected results.
That's it folks. Next week, I am spending time with my research buddies at the Almaden Research Center near San Jose, California, and then it is off to Moscow, Russia to kick off a series of IBM events called "Edge Comes to You" (ECTY).
The ECTY conferences will be a smaller subset of the Edge conference here in Orlando, but offered in other countries for those who were unable to travel to the United States.
technorati tags: IBM, Edge2012, Real-Time Compression, NetApp, SVC, Storwize V7000, iBurst, PAM, NDMP, SONAS, Active Directory, NIS, LDAP, SAMBA, Acess Control Lists, NFS, CIFS, ECTY
The marketshare data for external disk systems has been released by IDC for 4Q09. Overall, the market dropped 0.7 percent, comparing 4Q09 versus 4Q08. While EMC was quick to remind everyone that they were able to [maintain their #1 position] in the storage subset of "external disk systems", with the same 23.7 percent marketshare they had back in 4Q08 and revenues that were essentially flat, the real story concerns the shifts in the marketplace for the other major players. IBM grew revenue 9 percent, putting it nearly 5 points of marketshare ahead of HP. HP revenues dropped 7 percent, moving it further behind. Not mentioned in the [IBM Press Release] were NetApp and Dell, neck and neck for fourth place, with NetApp gaining 16.8 percent in revenues, while Dell dropped 13.5 percent. Both NetApp and Dell now have about 8 percent marketshare each. These top five storage vendors represent nearly 70 percent of the marketshare.
Given that HP is IBM's number one competitor, not just in storage but all things IT, this was a major win. Bob Evans from InformationWeek interviews my fifth-line manager, IBM executive Rod Adkins [IBM Claims Hardware Supremacy] where he shares his views and opinions about HP, Oracle-Sun, Cisco and Dell.
I'll add my two cents on what's going on:
- Shift in Servers causes Shift in Storage
Hundreds of customers are moving away from HP and Sun over to IBM servers, and with it, are chosing IBM's storage offerings as well. IBM's rock-solid strategy (which I outlined in my post [Foundations and Flavorings]) has helped explain the different products and how they are positioned. HP's use of Itanium processors, and Sun's aging SPARC line, are both reasons enough to switch to IBM's lastest POWER7 processors, running AIX, IBM i (formerly i5/OS) and Linux operating systems.
- Thunder in the Clouds
Some analysts predict that by 2013, one out of five companies won't even have their own IT assets. IBM supports all flavors of private, public and hybrid cloud computing models. IBM has its own strong set of offerings, is also the number one reseller of VMware, and has cloud partnerships with both Google and Amazon. HP and Microsoft have recently formed an alliance, but they have different takes on cloud computing. HP wants to be the "infrastructure" company, but Microsoft wants to focus on its ["three screens and a public cloud"] strategy. Microsoft has decided not to make its Azure Cloud operating system available for private cloud deployments. By contrast, IBM can start you with a private cloud, then help you transition to a hybrid cloud, and finally to a public cloud.
In the latest eX5 announcement, IBM's x86-based servers can run 78 percent more virtual machines per VMware license dollar. This will give IBM an advantage as HP shifts from Itanium to an all x86-based server line.
- Network Attached Storage
There seems to be a shift away from FC and iSCSI towards NAS and FCoE storage networking protocols. This bodes bad for HP's acquisition of LeftHand, and Dell's acquisition of EqualLogic. IBM's SONAS for large deployments, and N series for smaller deployments, will compete nicely against HP's StorageWorks X9000 system.
- Storage on Paper no longer Eco-friendly
HP beats IBM when you include consumer products like printers, which some might consider "Storage on Paper". At IBM, we often joke that 96 percent of HP's profits come from over-priced ink cartridges. With the latest focus on the environment, people are printing less. I have been printing less myself, setting my default printer to generate a PDF file instead. There are several tools available for this, including [CutePDF] and [BullZip]. As IBM employees switch from Microsoft Office to IBM's [Lotus Symphony], it has built-in "export-to-PDF" capability as well. People are also going to their local OfficeMax or CartridgeWorld to get their cartridges refilled, rather than purchase new ones. That has to be hurting HP's bottom line.
- Don't Forget About Storage Management
The leading storage management suites today are IBM's Tivoli Storage Productivity Center and EMC's Control Center. HP's Storage Essentials doesn't quite beat either of these, and management software is growing in importance to more and more customers.
To learn more about IBM results 4Q09 and full-year 2009, see [Quarterly Earnings].
technorati tags: IBM, EMC, IDC, HP, NetApp, Dell, SPARC, Itanium, POWER7, cloud computing, three screens and cloud, VMware, FC, iSCSI, NAS, FCoE, Microsoft, printers, Productivity Center, LeftHand, EqualLogic, PDF, CutePDF, BullZip, 4Q09
They say "Great Minds think alike" and that imitation is "the sincerest form of flattery." Both of these quotes came to mind when I read fellow blogger Chuck Hollis' (EMC) excellent April 7th blog post [The 10 Big Ideas That Are Shaping IT Infrastructure Today]. Not surprisingly, some of his thoughts are similar to those I had presented two weeks ago in my March 22nd post [Cloud Computing for Accountants]. Here are two charts that caught my eye:
- Telephone Operators
On page 13 of my deck, I had an old black and white photo of telephone operators, as part of a section on the history of selecting "cloud" as the iconic graphic to represent all networks. Chuck has this same graphic on his chart titled "#1 The Industrialization of IT Infrastructure".
Looks like Chuck and I use the same "stock photo" search facility!
- Arms Dealers
On page 45 on my deck, I had a list of major "arms dealers" that deliver the hardware and software components needed to build Cloud Computing. Chuck has a similar chart, titled "#2 The Consolidation of the IT Industry", but with some interesting differences.
Let's look at some of the key differences:
- The left-to-right order is slightly different. I chose a 1-2-4-2-1 symmetrical pattern purely on aesthetic reasons. My presentation was to a bunch of accountants, and so I was trying not to make it sound like an "Infomercial" for IBM products and offerings. My sequence is roughly chronological, in that Oracle announced its intention to acquire Sun, then Cisco, VMware and EMC announced their VCE coalition, followed closely by Cisco, VMware and NetApp announcing they work together well also, followed by [HP extended alliance with Microsoft] on Jan 13, 2010. As the IT marketplace is maturing, more and more customers are looking for an IBM-like one-stop shopping experience, and certainly various "mini-mall" alliances have formed to try to compete in this space.
- I had HP and Microsoft in the same column, referring only to the above-mentioned January announcement. HP is all about private cloud hardware infrastructures, but Microsoft is all about "three screens and the public cloud", so not sure how well this alliance will work out from a Cloud Computing perspective. This was not to imply that the other stacks don't work well with Microsoft software. They all do. Perhaps to avoid that controversy, Chuck chose to highlight HP's acquisition of EDS services instead.
- I used the vendor logos in their actual colors. Notice that the colors black, blue and red occur most often. These happen to be the three most popular ballpoint pen ink colors found on the very same paper documents these computer companies are trying to eliminate. Paper-less office, anyone? Chuck chose instead to colorize each stack with his own color scheme. While blue for IBM and orange for Sun Microsystems make some sense, it is not clear if he chose green for Cisco/VMware/EMC for any particular reason. Perhaps he was trying to subtly imply that the VCE stack is more energy efficient? Or maybe the green refers to money to indicate that the VCE stack is the most expensive? Either way, I would pit IBM's server/storage/software stack up against anything of comparable price from these other stacks in any energy efficiency bake-off.
- What about the Cisco/VMware/NetApp combination? All three got together to assure customers this was a viable combination. IBM is the number one reseller of VMware, and VMware runs great with IBM's N series NAS storage, so I do not dispute Cisco's motivation here. It makes sense for Cisco to two-time EMC in this manner. Why should Cisco limit itself to a single storage supplier? Et tu VMware? Having VMware chose NetApp over its parent company EMC was a bit of a shock. No surprise that Chuck left NetApp out of his chart.
- No love for Dell? I give Dell credit for their work with Virtual Desktop Images (VDI), and for embracing Ubuntu Linux for their servers. Dell's acquisitions of EqualLogic iSCSI-based disk systems and Perot Systems for services are also worth noting. Dell used to resell some of EMC's gear, but perhaps that relationship continues to fade away, as I [predicted back in 2007]. Chuck's decision to leave Dell off his chart speaks volumes to where this relationship stands, and where it is going.
Perhaps we are all in just one big ["echo chamber"], as we are all coming up with similar observations, talking to similar customers, and reviewing similar market analyst reports. I am glad, at least this time, that Chuck and I for the most part agree where the marketplace is going. We live in interesting times!
technorati tags: , Chuck Hollis, EMC, IBM, HP, Microsoft, telephone operators, IT infrastructure, cloud computing, Cisco, VMware, , , Oracle, Sun, NetApp, EqualLogic, iSCSI, NAS, Dell, VDI, Ubuntu, Linux
It seems everyone is talking about stacks, appliances and clouds.
On StorageBod, fellow blogger Martin Glassborow has a post titled [Pancakes!] He feels that everyone from Hitachi to Oracle is turning into the IT equivalent of the International House of Pancakes [IHOP] offering integrated stacks of software, servers and storage.
Cisco introduced its "Unified Computing System" about a year ago, [reinventing the datacenter with an all-Ethernet approach]. Cisco does not offer its own hypervisor software nor storage, so there are two choices. First, Cisco has entered a joint venture, called Acadia, with VMware and EMC, to form the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition. The resulting stack was named Vblock, which one blogger had hyphenated as Vb-lock to raise awareness to the proprietary vendor lock-in nature of this stack. Second, Cisco, VMware and NetApp had a similar set of [Barney press releases] to announce a viable storage alternative to those not married to EMC.
On StorageMojo, fellow blogger Robin Harris presents [A deep dive into Cisco’s UCS]. Here is an excerpt:
"Only when it makes sense. Oracle/Sun has the better argument: when you know exactly what you want from your database, we’ll sell you an integrated appliance that will do exactly that. And it’s fine if you roll your own.
But those are industry-wide issues. There are UCS/VCE specific issue as well:
- Cost. All the integration work among 3 different companies costs money. They aren’t replacing existing costs – they are adding costs. Without, in theory, charging more.
- Lock-in. UCS/Vblock is, effectively, a mainframe with a network backplane.
- Barriers to entry. Are there any? Cisco flagged hypervisor bypass and large memory support as unique value-add – and neither seems any more than a medium-term advantage.
- BOT? Build, Operate, Transfer. In theory Vblocks are easier and faster to install and manage. But customers are asking that Acadia BOT their new Vblocks. The customer benefit over current integrator practice? Lower BOT costs? Or?
- Price. The 3 most expensive IT vendors banding together?
- Longevity. Industry “partnerships” don’t have a good record of long-term success. Each of these companies has its own competitive stresses and financial imperatives, and while the stars may be aligned today, where will they be in 3 years? Unless Cisco is piloting an eventual takeover."
Similar questions and concerns were raised by others, including Greg Ferro's [Questions I Have About Cisco] and Gestalt IT's [One Year Later: Questioning Cisco UCS].
Fellow blogger Bob Sutor (IBM) has an excellent post titled
[Appliances and Linux
]. Here is an excerpt:
"In your kitchen you have special appliances that, presumably, do individual things well. Your refrigerator keeps things cold, your oven makes them hot, and your blender purees and liquifies them. There is room in a kitchen for each of these. They work individually but when you are making a meal they each have a role to play in creating the whole.
You could go out and buy the metal, glass, wires, electrical gadgets, and so on that you would need to make each appliance but it is is faster, cheaper, and undoubtably safer to buy them already manufactured. For each device you have a choice of providers and you can pay more for additional features and quality.
In the IT world it is far more common to buy the bits and pieces that make up a final solution. That is, you might separately order the hardware components, the operating system, and the applications, and then have someone put them all together for you. If you have an existing configuration you might add more blades or more storage devices.
You don’t have to do this, however, in every situation. Just from a hardware perspective, you can buy a ready-made machine just waiting for the on switch to be flicked and the software installed. Conversely, you might get a pre-made software image with operating system and applications in place, ready to be provisioned to your choice of hardware. We can get even fancier in that the software image might be deployable onto a virtual machine and so be a ready made solution runnable on a cloud.
Thus in the IT world we can talk about hardware-only appliances, software-only appliances (often called virtual software appliances), and complete hardware and software combinations. The last is most comparable to that refrigerator or oven in your kitchen."
If your company was a restaurant, how many employees would you have on hand to produce your own electricity from gas generators, pump your own water from a well, and assemble your own toasters and blenders from wires and motors? I think this is why companies are re-thinking the way they do their own IT.
Rather than business-as-usual, perhaps a mix of pre-configured appliances, consisting of software, server and storage stacked to meet a specific workload, connected to public cloud utility companies, might be the better approach. By 2013, some analysts feel that as many as 20 percent of companies might not even have a traditional IT datacenter anymore.
Fellow blogger David Salgado (Microsoft) rips into the IT industry for [marketing these "stacks" of components as "private clouds"]. Fellow blogger Mary-Jo Foley (Microsoft) asks ['Private cloud' = just another buzzword for on-premise datacenter?"] adds more attention to the confusion over the terms private and public cloud. Here's an excerpt that shows Microsoft's thinking in this area:
- "The private cloud:
- “By employing techniques like virtualization, automated management, and utility-billing models, IT managers can evolve the internal datacenter into a ‘private cloud’ that offers many of the performance, scalability, and cost-saving benefits associated with public clouds. Microsoft provides the foundation for private clouds with infrastructure solutions to match a range of customer sizes, needs and geographies.
- The public cloud:
- “Cloud computing is expanding the traditional web-hosting model to a point where enterprises are able to off-load commodity applications to third-party service providers (hosters) and, in the near future, the Microsoft Azure Services Platform. Using Microsoft infrastructure software and Web-based applications, the public cloud allows companies to move applications between private and public clouds.”
Finally, I saw this from fellow blogger, Barry Burke(EMC), aka the Storage Anarchist, titled [a walk through the clouds] which is really a two-part post.
The first part describes a possible future for EMC customers written by EMC employee David Meiri, envisioning a wonderful world with "No more Metas, Hypers, BIN Files...."
The vision is a pleasant one, and not far from reality. While EMC prefers to use the term "private cloud" to refer to both on-premises and off-premises-but-only-your-employees-can-VPN-to-it-and-your-IT-staff-still-manages-it flavors, the overall vision is available today from a variety of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers.
A good analogy for "private cloud" might be a corporate "intranet" that is accessible only within the company's firewall. This allowed internal websites where information to be disseminated to employees could be posted, using standard HTML and standard web browsers that are already deployed on most PCs and workstations. Web pages running on an intranet can easily be moved to an external-facing website without too much rework or trouble.
The second part has Barry claiming that EMC has made progress towards a "Virtual Storage Server" that might be announced at next month's EMC World conference.
When people hear "Storage Virtualization" most immediately think of the two market leaders, IBM SAN Volume Controller and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) Universal Storage Platform (USP) products. Those with a tape bent might throw in IBM's TS7000 virtual tape libraries or Oracle/Sun's Virtual Storage Manager (VSM). And those focused on software-only solutions might recall Symantec's Veritas Volume Manager (VxVM), DataCore's SANsymphony, or FalconStor's IPStor products.
But what about EMC's failed attempt at storage virtualization, the Invista? After five years of failing to deliver value, EMC has so far only publicised ONE customer reference account, and I estimate that perhaps only a few dozen actual customers are still running on this platform. Compare that to IBM selling tens of thousands of SAN Volume Controllers, and HDS selling thousands of their various USP-V and USP-VM products, and you quickly realize that EMC has a lot of catching up to do. EMC's first delivered Invista about 18 months after IBM SAN Volume Controller, similar to their introduction of Atmos being 18 months after our Scale-Out File Services (SoFS) and their latest CLARiiON-based V-Max coming out 18 months after IBM's XIV storage system.
So what will EMC's Invista follow-on "Virtual Storage Server" product look like? No idea. It might be another five years before you actually hear about a customer using it. But why wait for EMC to get their act together?
IBM offers solutions TODAY that can make life as easy as envisioned here. IBM offers integrated systems sold as ready-to-use appliances, customized "stacks" that can be built to handle particular workloads, residing on-premises or hosted at an IBM facility, and public cloud "as-a-service" offerings on the IBM Cloud.
technorati tags: StorageBod, Martin Glassborow, IHOP, Hitachi, Oracle, Cisco, UCS, Ethernet, VMware, VCE, NetApp, Barney, StorageMojo, Robin Harris, IBM, Bob Sutor, Linux, Appliances, Stacks, Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Cloud Computing, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, Barry Burke, EMC, Invista
A client asked me to explain "Nearline storage" to them. This was easy, I thought, as I started my IBM career on DFHSM, now known as DFSMShsm for z/OS, which was created in 1977 to support the IBM 3850 Mass Storage System (MSS), a virtual storage system that blended disk drives and tape cartridges with robotic automation. Here is a quick recap:
- Online storage is immediately available for I/O. This includes DRAM memory, solid-state drives (SSD), and always-on spinning disk, regardless of rotational speed.
- Nearline storage is not immediately available, but can be made online quickly without human intervention. This includes optical jukeboxes, automated tape libraries, as well as spin-down massive array of idle disk (MAID) technologies.
- Offline storage is not immediately available, and requires some human intervention to bring online. This can include USB memory sticks, CD/DVD optical media, shelf-resident tape cartridges, or other removable media.
These terms and their definitions have been used for decades, and are consistent with or at least similar to definitions I found on [Wikipedia], [Webopedia], [WiseGEEK], and [SearchStorage].
Sadly, it appears a few storage manufacturers and vendors have been misusing the term "Nearline" to refer to "slower online" spinning disk drives. I find this [June 2005 technology paper from Seagate], and this [2002 NetApp Press Release], the latter of which included this contradiction for their "NearStore" disk array. Here is the excerpt:
"Providing online access to reference information—NetApp nearline storage solutions quickly retrieve and replicate reference and archive information maintained on cost-effective storage—medical images, financial models, energy exploration charts and graphs, and other data-intensive records can be stored economically and accessed in multiple locations more quickly than ever"
Which is it, "online access" or "nearline storage"?
If a client asked why slower drives consume less energy or generate less heat, I could explain that, but if they ask why slower drives must have SATA connections, that is a different discussion. The speed of a drive and its connection technology are for the most part independent. A 10K RPM drive can be made with FC, SAS or SATA connection.
I am opposed to using "Nearlne" just to distinguish between four-digit speeds (such as 5400 or 7200 RPM) versus "online" for five-digit speeds (10,000 and 15,000 RPM). The difference in performance between 10K RPM and 7200 RPM spinning disks is miniscule compared to the differences between solid-state drives and any spinning disk, or the difference between spinning disk and tape.
I am also opposed to using the term "Nearline" for online storage systems just because they are targeted for the typical use cases like backup, archive or other reference information that were previously directed to nearline devices like automated tape libraries.
Can we all just agree to refer to drives as "fast" or "slow", or give them RPM rotational speed designations, rather than try to incorrectly imply that FC and SAS drives are always fast, and SATA drives are always slow? Certainly we don't need new terms like "NL-SAS" just to represent a slower SAS connected drive.
technorati tags: IBM, online, nearline, offline, FC, SATA, SAS, NL-SAS, MAID, SSD, DVD, optical, NetApp, Seagate,
"Politics makes strange bedfellows."
--- Charles Dudley Warner
In my September 2007 post [Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I explain that there are two kinds of clients:
- Those that prefer to work with one-stop shopping of an IT Supermarket, with companies like IBM, HP and Dell who offer a complete set of servers, storage, switches, software and services, what we call "The Five S's".
- Those that perfer shopping for components at individual specialty shops, like butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers, hoping that this singular focus means the products are best-of-breed in the market. Companies like HDS for disk, Quantum for tape, and Symantec for software come to mind.
My how the IT landscape for vendors has evolved in just the past five years! Cisco starts to sell servers, and enters a "mini-mall" alliance with EMC and VMware to offer vBlock integrated stack of server, storage and switches with VMware as the software hypervisor. For those not familiar with the concept of mini-malls, these are typically rows of specialty shops. A shopper can park their car once, and do all their shopping from the various shops in the mini-mall. Not quite "one-stop" shopping of a supermarket, but tries to address the same need.
("Who do I call when it breaks?" -- The three companies formed a puppet company, the Virtual Computing Environment company, or VCE, to help answer that question!)
Among the many things IBM has learned in its 100+ years of experience, it is that clients want choices. Cisco figured this out also, and partnered with NetApp to offer the aptly-named FlexPod reference architecture. In effect, Cisco has two boyfriends, when she is with EMC, it is called a Vblock, and when she is with NetApp, it is called a FlexPod. I was lucky enough to find this graphic to help explain the three-way love triangle.
Did this move put a strain on the relationship between Cisco and EMC? Last month, EMC announced VSPEX, a FlexPod-like approach that provides a choice of servers, and some leeway for resellers to make choices to fit client needs better. Why limit yourself to Cisco servers, when IBM and HP servers are better? Is this an admission that Vblock has failed, and that VSPEX is the new way of doing things? No, I suspect it is just EMC's way to strike back at both Cisco and NetApp in what many are calling the "Stack Wars". (See [The Stack Wars have Begun!], [What is the Enterprise Stack?], or [The Fight for the Fully Virtualized Data Center] for more on this.)
(FTC Disclosure: I am both an employee and shareholder of IBM, so the U.S. Federal Trade Commission may consider this post a paid, celebrity endorsement of the IBM PureFlex system. IBM has working relationships with Cisco, NetApp, and Quantum. I was not paid to mention, nor have I any financial interest in, any of the other companies mentioned in this blog post. )
Chris Mellor and Timothy Prickett Morgan at The Register have a great series of posts exploring this new development: [EMC VSPEX storage torpedo could sink FlexPods], [El Reg hurls EMC onto the rack, drills into VSPEX], [We were right: EMC's VSPEX will take on FlexPods], and [How EMC stuffs channel cakeholes with VSPEX recipes].
Last month, IBM announced its new PureSystems family, ushering in a [new era in computing]. I invite you all to check out the many "Paterns of Expertise" available at the [IBM PureSystems Centre]. This is like an "app store" for the data center, and what I feel truly differentiates IBM's offerings from the rest.
The trend is obvious. Clients who previously purchased from specialty shops are discovering the cost and complexity of building workable systems from piece-parts from separate vendors has proven expensive and challenging. IBM PureFlex™ systems eliminate a lot of the complexity and effort, but still offer plenty of flexibility, choice of server processor types, choice of server and storage hypervisors, and choice of various operating systems.
technorati tags: IBM, Stack Wars, PureSystems, PureFlex, VSPEX, EMC, Vblock, Cisco, VMware, NetApp, FlexPod, HDS, Quantum, Symantec