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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Specialist for the IBM System Storage product line at the
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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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This week, I will be in Auckland, New Zealand for the [IBM System x and System Storage Technical Symposium]. This is a three-day event, with 35 unique sessions and labs. The agenda is organized with a keynote session in the beginning, followed by 12 time slots over three days, each slot offering five different break-out session topics to choose from. Here is a recap of Day 1:
The keynote was led by Phil Tasker, IBM Business Unit Executive (BUE) for STG Education Programs in Growth Markets, then Matt Paterson, General Manager for Sales in New Zealand say a few words. IBM is in the Top 10 Training Hall of Fame, and conducts over 40,000 classes worldwide, resulting in over 1.3 million student days of instructions. IBM Systems Lab and Training technical hosts over three dozen conferences like this one every year. This is the first time that System x and Storage Symposium has been run in New Zealand, and based on the incredibly good turn-out, will probably be a regular event.
Matt Ziegler - HPC
Matt Ziegler, IBM Senior HPC Solutions Architect for the iDataPlex marketing team, gave an introdcution to HPC during the keynote, then provided more details in a break-out session.
In the High Performance Computing (HPC) market, IBM POWER used to be the dominant chipset, with over 200 of the top 500 supercomputers back in June 2001. Today, only about 50 use POWER. Rather, over 350 of the top 500 supercomputers use x86 instead. HPC represents a 6.3 percent growth opportunity for computer, 9.3 percent growth for storage, and 8.6 percent growth for services.
IBM's leadership in energy efficiency applies to HPC as well. In the "Green 500", a ranking based on MFLOPS/Watt, 19 of the top 25 are from IBM. IBM's iDataPlex is the most energy efficient x86 platform, at 401 MFLOPS per Watt.
Overall, x86 is growing. In 2005, x86 had 48 percent of the market, RISC/Itanium had 39 percent, and mainframe had 12 percent. In 2009, x86 grew to 56 percent, RISC/Itanium dropped to 33 percent, and mainframe to 11 percent. By 2014, Matt projects that x86 will be 63 percent, RISC/Itanium will drop to 30 percent, and mainframe to 7 percent.
The most popular form factor for x86 are blades. Growing from 8 percent in 2005, to 20 percent in 2009, and projected to be 33 percent by 2014.
IBM's Storage Strategy in the Era of Smarter Computing
I gave this presentation twice today. It has evolved quite a bit from the version I presented in Orlando last July. Attendees appreciated that my colorful analogies and stories helped them better understand the concepts of Big Data analytics, Workload-Optimized systems, and Cloud Storage offerings.
SONAS Product Review and Demo
Rich Swain presented IBM's Scale-Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) and provided a live demo connecting to a box here in New Zealand. This is a topic I often present at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center, but it is always good to hear someone else's spin.
Phil Tasker invited everyone to the Welcome Reception after the last sessions. There was food and drink, and prizes! One person won an Xbox-360 game console, and two people won iPads.
The keynote was led by Phil Tasker, IBM Business Unit Executive (BUE) for STG Education Programs in Growth Markets, then Joe Screnci, head of IBM Storage Sales for Australia. IBM is in the Top 10 Training Hall of Fame, and conducts over 40,000 classes worldwide, resulting in over 1.3 million student days of instructions. IBM Systems Lab and Training technical hosts over three dozen conferences like this one every year.
Next was Clod Barrera, Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Strategist for the IBM System Storage product line. He covered future trends in storage as they relate to IBM's Smarter COmputing initiative.
Storage for the Clouds
Clod Barrera presented this break-out session on Cloud Storage. He covered why clouds matter, the various types and purposes of cloud, technology and architectures, and where IBM is headed to support this trend.
Storage for Cloud computing was $1 Billion USD business in 2010, and is expected to grow 32 percent CAGR through, compared to 3.8 percent for non-cloud storage. Clod estimates that 10 to 15 percent of all storage will be in cloud deployments by 2015. Of this storage, analysts expect 50 percent in private clouds, and the other 50 percent in public clouds. For private clouds, clients are looking to "Cloudify" their existing IT infrastructures. For public clouds, the projects are mostly green field.
IBM is also looking to the "arms dealer" of choice for Telcos and other companies looking to launch their own Cloud Services. IBM has a Cloud Services Provider Platform (CSP2) specifically to provide all the tools and technologies needed to make this possible.
Last month, IBM launched several new solutions for Cloud. The IBM Starter Kit for Cloud will help existing IT environments adopt cloud technologies. The IBM Service Agility Accelerator for Cloud is available for more advanced deployments. IBM Service Delivery Manager (ISDM) integrates a collection of software to provide complete integrated service management. IBM CloudBurst provides an integrated hardware-and-software stack for both x86 and POWER chipsets.
Multi-tenancy is also a big issue, and this varies depending on deployment model: IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS. Multi-tenancy is needed to help divide up management tasks, and to ensure that shared resources are paid for and meet SLA requirements accordingly.
Clod feels there are good reasons to use high performance, transactional SAN storage for VMware environments, versus NAS which many people consider simpler to deploy. IBM is also active in open standards, including SNIA's Cloud Data Management Interface [CDMI].
Journey to the Private Cloud
Gary Luke from Brocade provided this session on IBM's SAN384B-2 and SAN768B-2 SAN directors. Brocade is one of IBM's suppliers for SAN switches, and thanks to TRILL being adopted last August by IETF, supports multi-hop FCoE configurations! However, Gary did not talk about FCoE, but rather native FCP and FICON support in these new directors.
According to VMware, only 30 percent of x86 workloads are virtualized by any hypervisor. Gary feels that server virtualization and the use of Solid-State Drives (SSD) in disk arrays are driving existing 8 Gbps SAN to upgrade to 16 Gbps. Gary feels that Fibre-Channel based SANs are best positioned to handle unpredictable peaks in a 24-by-7 world.
The SAN384B-2 can house up to 256 ports (8 Gbps) or 192 ports (16 Gbps) in four slots, 9U chassis. The SAN768B-2 can handle twice these, in a 12U chassis. The nice thing about the 16Gbps ports is that they can auto-negotiate down to 10, 8, 4 and 2 Gbps. This is far better than typical N-2 support, often referred to as the speeds supported, such as 4/2/1 and 8/4/2. An upcoming FOS release will allow people with previous generation SAN384B-1/SAN768B-1 directors to move their 8Gbps blades over to the new SAN384B-2/SAN768B-2 generation models.
Since most CWDM and DWDM only support maximum 10 Gbps FC and 10GbE, Brocade's 16Gbps can automatically drop down to 10 Gbps for direct attachment to CWDM/DWDM, rather than having a step-down box normally required.
A major advancement is the change from copper to optical "Inter-Chassis Links" (ICL). Unlike Inter-switch links (ISL) that use up SAN ports on each box, the ICL is faster, more efficient and does not consume ports. Normally, clients would connect two directors together, but now you can connect up to six chassis together! For example, you can have four SAN368B-2 connected to your host servers, ICL attached to two SAN768B-2, that are then connected to your disk and tape storage devices. The fiber optic ICL allow for up to 50 meters distance. Combining six chassis together would allow the complex to support over 3,000 ports (8 Gbps) or 2,300 ports (16 Gbps).
The SAN384B-2 and SAN768B-2 supports "virtual SAN" logical switches, traffic isoliation (TI) zones, fabric-assigned WWNNs, and fabric-based QoS.
Lastly, Brocade offers a free utility called [SANhealth] that will gather data from your b-type, m-type and even Cisco MDS-based SAN. The data can then be sent to Brocade for analysis, and Brocade will then email back some nice Visio graphs, spreadsheets and other analysis results on the health of your SAN.