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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Specialist for the IBM System Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2011, Tony celebrated his 25th year anniversary with IBM Storage on the same day as the IBM's Centennial. 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. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
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Once again it's Tuesday, which means IBM announcement day!
Today IBM announced [two new DS3400 SAN Express Models]. These two new models will replace the IBM System Storage DS3400 SAN Express Kit model 41U and 42U to be withdrawn from marketing today. The DS3000 series of scalable, flexible, and affordable storage solutions support IBM System x, System p, and BladeCenter servers.
Two new IBM System Storage DS3400 SAN Express Kits are being introduced that provide the parts needed to setup and configure a SAN with the exception of a SAN switch that can be ordered separately. The IBM System Storage DS3400 SAN Express Kits contain Emulex EZPilot software that enables automated installation and configuration of the SAN components. IBM System Storage DS3400 SAN Express Kits models 41S and 42S and Emulex EZPilot software work in conjunction with the IBM TotalStorage SAN16B-2 Express Model Switch which comes with eight ports and eight 4 Gbps SFPs. The EZPilot software can support configurations with either one or two SAN16B-2 switches.
The 41S is a single-controller model DS3400 with two HBA cards and four cables. The 42S is the dual-controller model with two HBA cards and eight cables.
Earlier this year, IBM launched its[New Enterprise Data Center vision]. The average data center was built 10-15 years ago,at a time when the World Wide Web was still in its infancy, some companies were deploying their first storage areanetwork (SAN) and email system, and if you asked anyone what "Google" was, they might tell you it was ["a one followed by a hundred zeros"]!
Full disclosure: Google, the company, justcelebrated its [10th anniversary] yesterday, and IBM has partnered with Google on a varietyof exciting projects. I am employed by IBM, and own stock in both companies.
In just the last five years, we saw a rapid growth in information, fueled by Web 2.0 social media, email, mobile hand-held devices, and the convergenceof digital technologies that blurs the lines between communications, entertainment and business information. This explosion in information is not just "more of the same", but rather a dramatic shift from predominantly databases for online transaction processing to mostly unstructured content. IT departments are no longer just the"back office" recording financial transactions for accountants, but now also take on a more active "front office" role. For a growing number of industries, information technology plays a pivotal role in generating revenue, making smarter business decisions, and providing better customer service.
IBM felt a new IT model was needed to address this changing landscape, so IBM's New Enterprise Data Center vision has these five key strategic initiatives:
Highly virtualized resources
Business-driven Service Management
Green, Efficient, Optimized facilities
In February, IBM announced new products and features to support the first two initiatives, including the highlyvirtualized capability of the IBM z10 EC mainframe, and and related business resiliency features of the [IBM System Storage DS8000 Turbo] disk system.
In May, IBM launched its Service Management strategic initiative at the Pulse 2008 conference. I was there in Orlando, Florida at the Swan and Dolphin resort to present to clients. You can read my three posts:[Day 1; Day 2 Main Tent; Day 2 Breakout sessions].
In June, IBM launched its fourth strategic initiative "Green, Efficient and Optimized Facilities" with [Project BigGreen 2.0], which included the Space-Efficient Volume (SEV) and Space-Efficient FlashCopy (SEFC) capabilitiesof the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) 4.3 release. Fellow blogger and IBM master inventor Barry Whyte (BarryW) has three posts on his blog about this:[SVC 4.3.0Overview; SEV and SEFCdetail; Virtual Disk Mirroring and More]
Some have speculated that the IBM System Storage team seemed to be on vacation the past two months, with few pressreleases and little or no fanfare about our July and August announcements, and not responding directly to critics and FUD in the blogosphere.It was because we were holding them all for today's launch, taking our cue from a famous perfume commercial:
"If you want to capture someone's attention -- whisper."
My team and I were actually quite busy at the [IBM Tucson Executive Briefing Center]. In between doing our regular job talking to excited prospects and clients,we trained sales reps and IBM Business Partners, wrote certification exams, and updated marketing collateral. Fortunately, competitors stopped promotingtheir own products to discuss and demonstrate why they are so scared of what IBM is planning.The fear was well justified. Even a few journalists helped raise the word-of-mouth buzz and excitement level. A big kiss to Beth Pariseau for her article in [SearchStorage.com]!
(Last week we broke radio silence to promote our technology demonstration of 1 million IOPS using Solid StateDisk, just to get the huge IBM marketing machine oiled up and ready for today)
Today, IBM General Manager Andy Monshaw launchedthe fifth strategic initiative, [IBM Information Infrastructure], at the[IBM Storage and Storage Networking Symposium] in Montpellier, France. Montpellier is one of the six locations of our New Enterprise Data Center Leadership Centers launched today. The other five are Poughkeepsie, Gaithersburg, Dallas, Mainz and Boebligen, with more planned for 2009.
Although IBM has been using the term "information infrastructure" for more than 30 years, it might be helpful to define it for you readers:
“An information infrastructure comprises the storage, networks, software, and servers integrated and optimized to securely deliver information to the business.”
In other words, it's all the "stuff" that delivers information from the magnetic surface recording of the disk ortape media to the eyes and ears of the end user. Everybody has an information infrastructure already, some are just more effective than others. For those of you not happy with yours, IBM hasthe products, services and expertise to help with your data center transformation.
IBM wants to help its clients deliver the right information to theright people at the right time, to get the most benefits of information, while controlling costs and mitigatingrisks. There might be more than a dozen ways to address the challenges involved, but IBM's Information Infrastructure strategic initiative focuses on four key solution areas:
Last, but not least, I would like to welcome to the blogosphere IBM's newest blogger, Moshe Yanai, formerly the father of the EMC Symmetrix and now leading the IBM XIV team. Already from his first poston his new [ThinkStorage blog], I can tell he is not going to pullany punches either.
Today, IBM announced its latest [BladeCenter S] with integratedredundant SAN fabric and disk storage inside the chassis. The tag line is "Data Center Capability, without the Data Center!"
I've gotten a few calls on this today, so I thought it would be good to blog about. To understand what is new,you need to understand what we had in other BladeCenter chassis. In those other chassis, there were up to 14 bladeservers on the front, and switch modules for FCP and Ethernet on the back. The entire chassis was rack-mountedto be connected to external devices.
The BladeCenter S was announced a year ago.With the new "BladeCenter S" chassis, the storage can be included inside the chassis, as well as connecting tothe outside world. It is designed to be stand-alone, rather than rack-mounted, plugs into a standard 100v-240v office power outlet,and includes a dust filter in caseyou keep it close to the floor, under your desk for example.
Click graphic at left for 4-minute video introduction.
(Here's also a more detailed[7-minute video] with fellow IBM colleague Alex Yost.)
Here's what you can get with the BladeCenter S:
Up to six(6) server blades that can do the work of 25-45 traditional servers.
Up to two(2) storage blades, each can have six(6) SAS or SATA disk drive modules (DDMs)
Up to four(4) switch modules, with a variety to choose from
Shared KVM, DVD/CD burner, and USB port. You can designate which blade has access to these, useful forinstalling software, attaching external devices, and so on.
The blades use either Intel, AMD or POWER processors, so you can run Windows, Linux, AIX, and [IBM i] (the newname for i5/OS V6R1).
Back 20 years ago, I worked with people with System/36 and System/38 systems. They loved it. Everything inone package. This grew into the AS/400 server. Having everything in one package was such an advantage thatIBM extended this to include a few "x86 blades" to run Windows applications but share the storage and networkresources.
Now IBM has taken this one step further. The older models assumed the majority of applications run underIBM's OS/400 or i5/OS operating system, but this new BladeCenter S does not make that assumption. You canmix and match different blade servers as needed, and run the operating systems you need.
This is an ideal packaging for Small and Medium sized Business (SMB), remote branch offices, and retail stores.In fact, more than 4,000 retail stores plan to run their operations using BladeCenter S this holiday season! For moreon this announcement, see the [IBM Press Release].
Well, it's Tuesday, and more IBM announcements were made today. Many of my colleagues are in Dallas, Texas for the[Storage Networking World conference], and hopefully I will get some feedback from them before the week is over.
Today, IBM made announcements for Storage Area Networking (SAN) gear and disk systems.
8 Gbps Longwave transceivers
IBM now offers 8 Gbps Longwave SFP transceivers on the[IBM System Storage SAN256B and SAN768B] directors, as well as the IBM System Storage SAN24B-4 Express, SAN40B-4, and SAN80B-4 switches (orderable as [machine type models] or [partnumbers] ).These transceivers support single mode fiber up to 10km in distance, comparedto the 50-75 meters supported by the Shortwave SFP transceivers.
Like theShortwave SFP transceivers we already have available, these Longwave transceivers have "N-2" support, which means they can support two generations back: auto-negotiate down to 4 Gbps and 2 Gbps speeds. If you still have 1 Gbps equipment, now is a good time to consider upgrading those, or keep a few 4 Gbps ports available that can auto-negotiate down to 1 Gbps speed.
Mainframe clients that sent data to a remote Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) location often used "channel extenders", which were special boxes used to minimize performance delays when transmitting FICON across long distances. This was especially helpful for z/OS Global Mirror (what we used to call XRC) as well as electronic vaulting to tape.
Now, this functionality can be part of the directors and routers, eliminating the need for separate equipment.This is available for the SAN768B and SAN256B directors, as well as SAN18B-R and SAN04B-R routers.
Before the merger between Brocade and McDATA, IBM offered SAN18B-R routers from Brocade, and SAN04M-R routers from McDATA. The former had 16 Fibre Channel (FC) ports and two Ethernet ports, and the latter was less expensive with just four ports.Brocade came up with a clever replacement for both. The [IBMSystem Storage SAN04B-R] router comes by default withtwo active FC ports and two Ethernet ports, but also with 14 additional FC ports inactive. A "High Performance Extension" feature activates these additional ports, bringing the SAN04B-R up to the SAN18B-R level, and allows it to support the FICON Accelerator feature above.
So, instead of having specialized channel extenders at both primary and secondary sites, you can havea director with FICON Accelerator at the primary site, sending FICON over Ethernet to a 1U-high router (also running the FICON Accelerator) at the secondary site, whichcan greatly reduce costs. The FICON Accelerator can in some cases double the amount of data transfer throughput,but of course, your mileage may vary.
On the disk side, the [IBMSystem Storage DS3000 series] disk systems have been enhanced, withsupport for 450GB high-speed 15K RPM SAS drives, RAID-6 double-drive protection, more FlashCopy point-in-time copies,and more partitions.On the DS3000, "storage partitions" is what the rest of the industry calls "LUN masking". A storage partition allowsyou to isolate a set of LUNs to only be seen by a single host server, or host cluster that shares the same set ofLUNs. Some clients felt that the default of four partitions was too low, so now up to 32 partitions can be configured.(This is not to be confused with "Logical Partitions" that isolate processor and cache resources available on theIBM System Storage DS8000 and other high-end storage disk systems.)
IBM also extended the Operating System support.The DS3000 series now supports Solaris, either on x86 or SPARC-based servers. The DS3300 iSCSI support now supportsLinux on POWER. The DS3400 allows support of IBM i (the new name for i5/OS V6R1) through the VIOS feature.
The [IBMSystem Storage DCS9900] is a bigger, faster version of the DCS9550. Like the DCS9550, the DCS9900 is designedfor high performance computing (HPC) workloads. The DCS9550 supported up to 960TB in two frames, with 2.8 GB/sec throughput,and an optional disk spin-down capability.The new DCS9900 can support up to 1.2 PB in two frames, with 5.6 GB/sec throughput, but no spin-down capability.
So whether your data center is filled with System z mainframes, or other open systems, IBM has a solution for you.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means more IBM announcements!
Storage Area Network (SAN)
IBM and Cisco announced [three new blades] for the Cisco MDS 9500 seriesdirectors: 24-port 8 Gbps, 48-port 8 Gbps, and 4/44 blended. The 4/44blended has 4 of the faster 8 Gbps ports, and 44 of the 4 Gpbs ports,so that you can auto-negotiate down to 1 Gbps for your older gear, andstill take advantage of the faster 8 Gbps speeds during the transition.
On the Brocade side, IBM announced the newIBM System Storage Data Center Fabric Manager [DCFM] V10 software. This replaces the products formerly known as BrocadeFabric Manager and McData Enterprise Fabric Connection Manager (EFCM).This software can support up to 24 distinct fabrics, up to 9000 ports,including a mix of FCP, FICON, FCIP and iSCSI protocols.
(On a related note, I heard that Microsoft is planning to rename "Windows Vista" to "Windows 7" next year! Like we say here in Tucson,if it ends in "-ista" it is going to fail in the marketplace! Perhaps EMC should rename their storage virtualization product to "In-7"?).
IBM System Storage DR550
IBM announced today that it now supports [RAID 6 onthe DR550] compliance and retention storage system.
There are a few RAID-5 based EMC Centera customers out there who have notyet switched over to the IBM DR550, and now this might be just the littlenudge they need. For long-term retention of regulatory compliance data,RAID-5 doesn't cut it, you need an advanced RAID scheme, such as RAID-6, RAID-DP or RAID-X.
The DR550 provides non-erasable, non-rewriteable (NENR) storage supportto keep retention-managed data on disk and tape media. It supports 1 TBSATA disk drives and 1TB tape cartridges to provide high capacity at lowcost and "green" low energy consumption.
IBM System Storage N series
Several of our disk systems got improved and enhanced. Let's start withthe IBM System Storage N series[hardware and software] enhancements. IBM now offers high-speed 450GB 15K RPM drives. These are Fibre Channel (FC) drives for the EXN4000 expansion drawers, and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives for the entry-levelN3300 and N3600 models.
The "gateway" models now support a variety of functions that were formerlyonly available on the appliance models. This includes Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS), Disk Sanitization, and FlexScale.
A-SIS is IBM's "other" deduplication function, and I talked about this in my post [A-SIS Storage Savings Estimator Tool]. Disk Sanitization will physicallywrite ones and zeros over existing data to eliminate it, what IBM sometimes calls "Data Shredding".
The last feature, FlexScale, might be new for many. It is software toenable to use of the "Performance Accelerator Module" (PAM). The PAM isa PCI-Express card with 16GB on-board RAM that acts as a secondary cachebehind main memory of the N series controller. Depending on the model,you can have one to five of these cards fit into the controller itself,boosting random read performance, metadata access, and write block destage.
IBM System Storage DS5000
IBM's latest entry into the DS family has been hugely successful.In addition to Linux, Windows and AIX, the DS5000 now supports [Novell Netware and Sun Solaris] operating systems.
For infrastructure management, IBM has enhanced the Remote Support Manager [RSM]that supports DS3000 and DS4000 has been extended to support DS5000 as well. This software can monitor up to 50 disk systems, will e-mail alerts to IBM when something goes wrong, and allow IBM to dial in via modem to get more diagnostic information to improve service to the client. Also, the IBM System Storage Productivity Center [SSPC]which now supports the DS8000 and SAN Volume Controller (SVC) has been extended to also support the DS5000.
IBM XIV Storage System
In addition to 1-year and 3-year maintenance agreements, IBM now offers[2-year, 4-year and 5-year] software maintenance agreements.
RFID labels for IBM tape media
IBM 3589 (20-pack of LTO cartridges) and IBM 3599 (20-pack of 3592 cartridges for TS1100 series)now offer [RFID labels]. These labels match the volume serial (VOLSER) with a 216-bit unique identifier and 256 bits of user-defined content. This can help with tape inventory,and to prevent people from walking out of the building with a tape cartridge stuffed in their jacket.
32GB memory stick
While not technically part of the IBM System Storage matrix of offerings, Lenovo announced their new[Essential Memory Key] which holds 32GB of memory and workswith both USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 protocols.
I wish I could say this is it for the IBM announcements for October, given that this is the last Tuesday of the month, but there are three days left, so there might be just a few more!
"If you've spent any time in the storage biz, you probably realize that the server vendors sell more storage than they have any right to."
This is the old [Supermarkets-vs-Specialty Shops] debate I discussed over a year ago. The debate goes along the lines that some peopleprefer to buy their entire information infrastructure (servers, storage, software and services)from a single vendor, one-stop shopping, while others might prefer to buy their pieces ascomponents from different vendors that specialize in each technology. Because of this, Specialty shops tend to focus on other Specialty shops as their primary competitors (EMC vs. NetApp), whileSupermarkets tend to focus on other Supermarkets (IBM vs. HP).
The apparent contradiction is that Chuck feels the Supermarkets (IBM, HP, Sun and Dell) should not have any right to sell storage, in the same manner that butchers, bakers and candlestick makersdo not believe that Supermarkets should have any right to sell meat, bread or candles?If servers and storage are so different, how can self-proclaimed storage-only specialist EMC have the right to sell their non-storage offerings, from server virtualization (VMware) to cloud-computing services? With EMC's latest announcement of DW/BI centers, I think we can safely take EMC off the list of storage-only specialists. We will needto come up with a third category for those caught in limbo between being one-stop shopping Supermarkets like IBM and being a pure storage-only Specialists like NetApp. Perhaps EMC has become the IT equivalent of Wal-Mart's[Neighborhood Market].(No offense intended to my friends at Wal-Mart!)
Then Chuck continues with these statements:
"It is rarely is it the case that a server vendor can offer you a better storage product, or better service, or better functionality than what a storage specialist can do.
...Interestingly enough, Dell appears to do a sizable amount of storage business "off base" with EMC products -- outside the context of a specific server transaction."
This second contradiction relates to products that are manufactured by specialty shops, butsold through supermarket channels. Chuck would like to imply that the only storage products anyone should consider is gear made by specialty shops, whether you get it directly from them, or through Supermarket's with appropriate OEM agreements. Storage made by Supermarkets, either organicallydeveloped or through acquisitions, should not be considered? What happens when a Supermarket acquires a specialty shop? We've already seen how negative EMC has been against IBM's acquisitions of XIV and Diligent, which allowed a Supermarket like IBM to provide better products in both cases than what is available from any specialty shop. Kind of pokes a big hole in that argument!
But Dell also acquired EqualLogic, which Chuck admits might have a "fit in the marketplace".As it turns out, companies would rather buy EMCequipment from Dell sales people, than from EMC directly, and perhaps this is becauseDell, like IBM, sees the big picture. Dell, IBM and the rest of the IT Supermarkets understand theentire information infrastructure, not just the storage components of a data center. With HP and Sun selling HDS gear, and IBM selling NetApp gear, it becomes obvious that EMC needs Dell more than Dell needs EMC.
Chuck then pokes fun at NetApp in comparing the EMC NX4 to NetApp's FAS2020, comparable to IBM System Storage N series N3300. Here's an excerpt:
Like other Celerras, it does the full unified storage thing: iSCSI, NAS and "real deal" FC that isn't emulated.
The irony, of course, is that the NX4 does not actually use "real" Fibre Channel drives,but rather SAS and SATA drives. I guess Chuck's concern is that the NetApp, which doesuse "real" Fibre Channel drives, provides FC-attached LUNs to the host through its WAFL mapping,rather than through EMC's traditional RAID-rank mapping approach.How Chuck can imply that anything in the IT industry that is "emulated" is somehow seriouslyworse than "real", but then spend 40 percent of his posts devoted to the benefits of VMware,which offers "emulated" virtual machines, seems to be yet another contradiction.
"Cloud computing" has been ill-defined and over-hyped, yet storage vendors have been quick to trot out their own "cloud storage" offerings and end users are wondering whether there's significant cost savings in these services for them, particularly in tough economic times.
"Cloud-speak" can be downright confusing....
"Surprisingly, Gartner considers the amorphous nature of the term to be good news: 'The very confusion and contradiction that surrounds the term 'cloud computing' signifies its potential to change the status quo in the IT market,' the IT research firm said earlier this year."
Consistent with Scott Adams's original prediction, the barriers of entry have lowered for storage vendors as well.Rather than competing on function and price through valued relationships and trusted expertise, some vendors would rather confuse instead. EMC tries to paint the NX4 as being "just as good as" anNetApp or IBM N series for unified storage, and EMC tries to create new categories, like Cloud-Oriented Storage (COS), to give their me-too products the impression they are in a league of their own.All of this to discourage customers from making their own comparisons and doing their own research.
IBM doesn't play that way. If you want straight talk aboutIBM's products, contact your local IBM Business Partner or sales rep.
It's Tuesday, which means IBM announcements, and today IBM made some major announcementsthat support a [Dynamic Infrastructure]! I hinted at this yesterday, choosing the week's theme to be all about Cloud Computing and Alternative Sourcing. I will briefly highlight today's announcements related to storage here, and try to go into more detail over the next few weeks.
Ethernet switches and routers
In support of Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage, IBM is now back in theEthernet networking business. This is part of storage as protocols likeiSCSI, CIFS and NFS are gaining prominence. Extending IBM's existing OEMrelationship with Brocade, there are four series:
[c-series] - "c" for Compact, these are 1U high fixed port switches
[g-series] - "g" for Pay-as-you-Grow using IronStack stacking technology to allow up to 8 switches to be glommed, glued, er.. "gathered" together as a single virtual chassis.
[m-series] - "m" for Multiprotocol Label Switching [MPLS] which supports routing between LAN and WAN networks over OC12 and OC48 lines.
[s-series] - "s" for slots, the B08S has eight slots, and the B16S has sixteen slots, supporting up to 384 ports. These models support Power-over-Ethernet [PoE] that simplifies attaching Voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephones and IP-based surveillance cameras.
IBM announced it will strengthen its partnership with Juniper Networks, and continues to consider Cisco a strategic partner as well. To help customer position themselves for Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage,IBM also launches some new services:
The IBM [DS5000] now supports self-encrypting disk drives, known also as "full-disk encryption" or FDE, for added security, and 8Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) ports for added performance. The DS5300 model in particular now supports up to 448 disk drives for added scalability.
Comprehensive Data Protection Solution
IBM's [Data Protection Solution] shows off IBM's awesome synergy between servers, storage and software. Combining System x servers, Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack software, and DS5000, DS4000 or DS3000 series disk systems. The solution is designed to both Windows-based servers and their applications, offering bare metal restores, and application–level protection for Oracle, SQL, Exchange and SAP.
Tivoli Storage Productivity Center
Last February, IBM previewed the renaming of TotalStorage Productivity Center to its new name,Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. Today, IBM announces [Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v4.1]. Some key changes include:
Productivity Center for Fabric has been merged into Productivity Center for Disk
Productivity Center for Replication is now integrated, but remains separately licensed
Productivity Center can now feed input to IBM's Novus Storage Enterprise Resource Planner [SERP]
TS7650 ProtecTIER Data Deduplication IP-based replication
IBM previews IP-based replication which allows the TS7650 appliance or TS7650G gateway to sendvirtual tape data over to a remote location. This is instead of having the underlying disk systemsperform the replication on its behalf. Having the TS7650 do the replication is preferred, as itcan maintain virtual cartridge integrity, when a virtual tape is unmounted the replication can beginat that point.
Long-time readers of my blog know that typically IBM makes its announcements on Tuesdays, but this week, we had an announcement today, Wednesday!
IBM announced agreements with Brocade, Cisco and Juniper Networks to help build more dynamic infrastructures. An IBM study estimates that the "digital footprint" of each person will grow from 1TB today to 16TB by the year 2020, and all of that data will need bandwidth to get around.IBM’s Data Center Networking (DCN) Initiative is focused on providing clients with solutions to address these three key areas in networking:
Partner for choice of networking products based and open standards to ensure clients can select from a full range of hardware options for data center networks. IBM will build on its strong partnerships with leading networking vendors to provide greater customer choice.
Integrate with IBM Data Center Products and Services. IBM continues to deliver a comprehensive portfolio of services for network design, integration and management from IBM Global Technology Services (GTS).
IBM differentiates itself with Common Data Center Management, where we can bring together software products, such as IBM Systems Director and Tivoli portfolio, to create what we refer to as a "Unified Service Management" software platform.
Here's a sample of what IBM announced:
IBM continues its strategic support for Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) with a Converged B32 switch, and Converged Network Adapters (CNA) for IBM System x servers. A CNA card does the job of both the Ethernet Network Interface Card (NIC) as well as the Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapter (HBA), reducing the number of cables from each server.
IBM and its Business Partners will resell the Cisco Nexus 5000 Series Switches, a leading family of high-performance, low-latency switches for data center networks supporting lossless 10GbE, Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).
IBM will OEM selected Juniper EX and MX switches and routers. This expands upon IBM and Juniper's long-term relationship that includes a reseller agreement with IBM Global Technology Services, collaboration on Juniper's Stratus Project, and IBM's ten worldwide Cloud Labs.
Continuing my week in Chicago for the IBM Storage and Storage Networking Symposium and System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference, I presented a variety of topics.
Hybrid Storage for a Green Data Center
The cost of power and cooling has risen to be a #1 concern among data centers. I presented the following hybrid storage solutions that combine disk with tape. These provide the best of both worlds, the high performance access time of disk with the lower costs and reduced energy consumption of tape.
IBM [System Storage DR550] - IBM's Non-erasable, Non-rewriteable (NENR) storage for archive and compliance data retention
IBM Grid Medical Archive Solution [GMAS] - IBM's multi-site grid storage for PACS applications and electronic medical records[EMR]
IBM Scale-out File Services [SoFS] - IBM's scalable NAS solution that combines a global name space with a clustered GPFS file system, serving as the ideal basis for IBM's own[Cloud Computing and Storage] offerings
Not only do these help reduce energy costs, they provide an overall lower total cost of ownership (TCO) thantraditional WORM optical or disk-only storage configurations.
The Convergence of Networks - Understanding SAN, NAS and iSCSI in the Data Center Network
This turned out to be my most popular session. Many companies are at a crossroads in choosing data and storage networking solutions in light of recent announcements from IBM and others. In the span of 75 minutes, I covered:
Block storage concepts, storage virtualization and RAID levels
File system concepts, how file systems map files to block storage
Network Attach Storage, the history of the NFS and CIFS protocols, Pros and Cons of using NAS
Storage Area Networks, the history of SAN protocols including ESCON, FICON and FCP, Pros and Cons of using SAN
IP SAN technologies, iSCSI and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), Pros and Cons of using this approach
Network Convergence with Infiniband and Fibre Channel over Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (FCoCEE), why Infiniband was not adopted historically in the marketplace as a storage protocol, and the features and enhancements of Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) needed to merge NAS, SAN and iSCSI traffic onto a single converged data center network [DCN]
Yes, it was a lot of information to cover, but I managed to get it done on time.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center version 4.1 Overview and Update
In conferences like these, there are two types of product-level presentations. An "Overview" explains howproducts work today to those who are not familiar with it. An "Update" explains what's new in this version of the product for those who are already familiar with previous releases. I decided to combine these into one sessionfor IBM's new version of [Tivoli Storage Productivity Center].I was one of the original lead architects of this product many years ago, and was able to share many personalexperiences about its evolution in development and in the field at client facilities.Analysts have repeatedly rated IBM Productivity Center as one of the top Storage Resource Management (SRM) tools available in the marketplace.
Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) Overview
Can you believe I have been doing ILM since 1986? I was the lead architect for DFSMS which provides ILM support for z/OS mainframes. In 2003-2005, I spent 18 months in the field performingILM assessments for clients, and now there are dozens of IBM practitioners in Global Technology Services andSTG Lab Services that do this full time. This is a topic I cover frequently at the IBM Executive Briefing Center[EBC], because it addressesseveral top business challenges:
Reducing costs and simplifying management
Improving efficiency of personnel and application workloads
Managing risks and regulatory compliance
IBM has a solution based on five "entry points". The advantage of this approach is that it allows our consultants to craft the right solution to meet the specific requirements of each client situation. These entry points are:
Tiered Information Infrastructure - we don't limit ourselves to just "Tiered Storage" as storage is only part of a complete[information infrastructure] of servers,networks and storage
Storage Optimization and Virtualization - including virtual disk, virtual tape and virtual file solutions
Process Enhancement and Automation - an important part of ILM are the policies and procedures, such as IT Infrastructure Library [ITIL] best practices
Archive and Retention - space management and data retention solutions for email, database and file systems
I did not get as many attendees as I had hoped for this last one, as I was competing head-to-head in the same time slot as Lee La Frese covering IBM's DS8000 performance with Solid State Disk (SSD) drives, John Sing covering Cloud Computing and Storage with SoFS, and Eric Kern covering IBM Cloudburst.
I am glad that I was able to make all of my presentations at the beginning of the week, so that I can then sit back and enjoy the rest of the sessions as a pure attendee.
Continuing my week in Chicago, for the IBM Storage Symposium 2009, I attended what in my opinion was the bestsession of the week. This was by a guy named Chip Copper, who covered IBM's set of Ethernet and Fibre Channelnetworking gear. Attributes are the four P's:
Power and Cooling (electricity usage)
Equipment comes in two flavors: Top-of-Rack (ToR) thin pizza box switches, and Middle-of-Row (MoR) much larger directors.The MoR directors are engineered for up to 50Gbps per half-slot, so 10GbE and the future 40GbE can be easily accommodated in a single half-slot, and the future 100GbE can be done with a full slot (two half-slots).
While many companies might have been contemplating the switch from copper wires to optical fiber, there is a new reason for copper cables: Power-over-Ethernet (PoE). Many IP-phones, digital video surveillance cameras, and other equipment can have a single cable that delivers both signal and electricity over copper. If you have already deployed optical fiber throughout the building, there are "last mile" options where the signals are converted to copper wires and electrical energy added for these types of devices.
Two directors can be connected together with Inter-Chassis Link (ICL) cables to make them look like a single director with twice the number of ports. These are different than Inter-Switch Links (ISL) as they are not counted as an extra "hop" for networking counting purposes, especially important for FICON usage.
Today, we have 1Gbps, 2Gbps, 4Gbps and 8Gbps Fibre Channel. Since these all use 10-for-8 encoding (10 bits represents one 8-bit byte), then in was easy to calculate throughput: 8Gpbs was 800 MB/sec, for example. Auto-negotiation between speeds is not done at the HBA card, switch or director blade itself, but in the Short Form-factor Pluggable (SFP) optical connector. However, you can only auto-negotiate if the encoding matches. The 4/2/1 SFP can run at 4Gbps or auto-negotiate to slower 2Gbps and 1Gbps. The 8/4/2 SFP can run at 8Gbps, or auto-negotiate down to slower 4Gpbs and 2Gbps. Folks who still have legacy 1Gbps equipment, but want to run some things at 8 Gbps, can buy 8Gbps-capable switches or director blades, but then put some 4/2/1 SFPs into them. These 4/2/1 SFP are cheaper, so this might be something to consider if budgets are tight. Some SFPs handle up to 10km distances, but others only 4km, so be careful not to order the wrong ones.
Unfortunately, there are proposals in place for 10Gbps and 40Gbps that would use a different 66-for-64 encoding (66 bits represent 8 bytes), so 10Gbps would be 1200 MB/sec. These are used today for ISL between directors and switches.In theory, the 40Gbps could auto-negotiate down to 10Gbps, but not to any of the 8/4/2/1 Gbps that use different 10-for-8 encoding.
For those who cannot afford a SAN768B, there is a smaller SAN384B that can carry: 192 ports (4Gpbs/2Gbps), 128 ports (8Gbps) or 24 ports (10Gbps). The SAN384B can be ICL connected to another SAN384B or even the SAN768B as your needs grow.
On the entry-level side, the SAN24B-4 offers a feature called "Access Gateway". This makes the SAN24B look like an SAN end-point host, rather than a switch, and makes initial deployment of integrated bundled solutions easier. Once connected to everything, you can convert it over to full "switch" mode.The SAN40B-4 and SAN80B-4 provide midrange level support, including Fibre Channel routing at the 8Gbps level. In fact, all 8Gbps ports include routing capability. IBM offers both single-port and dual-port 8Gbps host bus adapter (HBA) cards to connect to these switches. These HBA offer 16 virtual channels per port, so that if you have VMware running many guests, or want to connect both disk and tape to the same HBA, you can keep the channel traffic separate for Quality of Service (QoS).
Chip wrapped up his session to discuss Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), and explained why we need to have a loss-less Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) to meet the needs of storage traffic as well as traditional Fibre Channel does today. IBM offers all of the equipment you need to get started today on this FCoCEE, with Converged Network Ethernet cards for your System x servers, and a new SANB32 that has 24 10GbE CEE ports and 8 traditional 8Gbps FC ports. This means that you can put the CNA card in your existing servers, connect to this switch, and then connect to your existing 10GbE LAN and your existing 8Gpbs or 4Gpbs FC-based SAN to the rest of your storage devices.
Worried that the FCoE or CEE standards could change after you deploy this gear? Aren't most LAN and SAN switches based on Application-specific integrated circuit [ASIC] chips which are created in the factory? Don't worry, IBM's equipment have put all the standards-vulnerable portions of the logic into separate Field-programmable gate array [FPGA] that can be updated with simplya firmware upgrade. This is future-proofing I can agree with!
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means IBM announcements!
We've got a variety of storage-related items today, so here's my quick recap:
DS5020 and EXP520 disk systems
[IBM System Storage DS5020]
provides the functional replacement for DS4700 disk systems. These are combined controller
and 16 drives in a compact 3U package.
The EXP520 expansion drawer provides additional 16 drives per 3U drawer. A DS5020 can
support upo to six additional EXP520, for a total of 112 drives per system.
The DS5020 supports both 8 Gbps FC as well as 1GbE iSCSI.
New Remote Support Manager (DS-RSM model RS2)
The [IBM System Storage DS-RSM Model
RS2] supports of up to 50 disk systems, any mix of DS3000, DS4000 and DS5000 series.
It includes "call home" support, which is really "email home", sending error alerts to IBM
if there are any problems. The RSM also allows IBM to dial-in to perform diagnostics before
arrival, reducing the time needed to resolve a problem. The model RS2 is a beefier model
with more processing power than the prior generation RS1.
New Ethernet Switches
With the increased interest in iSCSI protocol, and the new upcoming Fibre Channel over
Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (FCoCEE), IBM's re-entrance into the ethernet switch market
has drawn a lot of interest.
The [IBM Ethernet Switch r-
series] offers 4-slot, 8-slot, 16-slot, and 32-slot models. Each slot can handle either
16 10GbE ports, or 48 1GbE ports. This means up to 1,536 ports.
The [c-series] now offers a
24-port model. This is either 24 copper and 4 fiber optic, or 24 fiber optic.
The "hybrid fiber" SFP fiber optic can handle either single or multi-mode, eliminating the
need to commit to one or the other, providing greater data center flexibility.
The [IBM Ethernet Switch B24X]
offers 24 fiber optic (that can handle 10GbE or 1GbE) and 4 copper (10/100/1000 MbE RJ45)
Storage Optimization and Integration Services
[IBM Storage Optimization and
Integration Services] are available. IBM service consultants use IBM's own
Storage Enterprise Resource Planner (SERP) software to evaluate your environment and provide
recommendations on how to improve your information infrastructure. This can be especially
helpful if you are looking at deploying server virtualization like VMware or Hyper-V.
As people look towards deploying a dynamic infrastructure, these new offerings can be a
(What does this have to do with Storage? When IBM got back into networking in a big way, they had to decide whether to combine it with one of the existing groups, or form its own group. IBM decided to merge networking with storage, which makes sense since the primary purpose of most networks is to access or transmit information stored somewhere else.)
Last April, the Wharton School and the Institute for the Future convened a one-day [After Broadband] workshop in San Francisco, California, that brought together a group of leading technologists, entrepreneurs, academics and policymakers to explore the future of broadband over the next decade.