I survived my first day at SNW Spring 2007
.This is my first time at SNW, but it is very much like many of the other conferences I have been to.It officially started Monday morning with pre-conferencetutorials and primer break-outsessions that covered storage fundamentals, but I didn't arrive until late Monday night due to highwind conditions at the Phoenix airport that delayed my travel.
Tuesday started out with main tent sessions. Ron Milton, VP of ComputerWorld that puts on this conference,and Vincent Franceschini, Chairman of the Board for SNIA, kicked off the event.It didn't take them long to get into the alphabet soup: ILM, ITIL, SMI-S, XAM, IMA, MMA, DDF,MF, DMF, IPSF, SSIF, and SRM.Several hundred people had "voting devices" so that they could participate in "informal" surveys.
Q1. What was the greatest need?
- 37% Storage Resource Management (SRM) tools
- 19% Storage Virtualization
- 19% Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)
- 14% Integration with other management tools
- 11% Compliance storage for regulations
Q2. What are people doing to address storage infrastructure complexity?
- 33% Deploying new SRM and SAN management tools
- 26% Adopting "Storage as a Service" methodology
- 22% Deploying new storage virtualization technologies
- 8% Hiring more staff
- 9% (complexity was not an issue)
The first keynote speaker was Cora Carmody, CIO of SAIC. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I did a lot of work with SAIC here in San Diego, and so IBM sent me to San Diego quite frequentlyfor face-to-face meetings with them. Her talk was cryptically titled "Jumbo Shrimp, InformationManagement, and the Mark of the Beast." Coming up with good titles is important. Some of herkey points:
- "Information management" was as much an oxymoron as "jumbo shrimp" or "military intelligence".(SAIC is a general contractor for the US Military, so this was especially funny).
- Computer data needs both "ownership" and "stewardship".
- Gartner analyst reports that 50% of digital information for a business resides in personal files onindividual PCs.
- PAN-StaRRs project is ingesting 10TB per week of astronomical data.
- TeraTEXT(R) project is a non-relational database that supports a large mix of structured and unstructured content.
- The next "Y2K" crisis for the USA is changing from 3-digit to 4-digit area codes for our telephone numbers.
- Battery size and life have not advanced as fast as we need
- There has been little progress in "User Interface" ease of use
- Formats and standards are picked for the most part by the winning vendors, and it is the silence of themarketplace that lets them get away with this.
- We are overly reliant on an inherently insecure medium.
- The "mark of the beast" refers to exciting new technologies based on "presence awareness". For example,some hotels now are able to check you into the hotel as you drive up in your car, based on your car's licenseplate. Some 24-hour gyms use your fingerprint as your entry credentials, eliminating the need to staff peopleat the front desk.
IBM's own Barry Rudolph, presented "Storage in an Age of Inconvenient Truths", dressed up like Oscar-winner andformer USA Vice President Al Gore. Barry's focus was on the growingconcern of over environmental Power and Cooling issues in the data center. According to IDC, the cost of power and cooling an individual server, over its lifetime, now exceeds its acquisition cost. Storage devices are not as bad as servers in this regard. Data centers now consume 1.2% of the worlds energy.
Over lunch, I heard Tony Asaro from ESG present "The Need for Highly Virtualized Storage Systems withina Virtualized Data Center." His concern is that there is still a "heavy touch" required to manage storage.Without virtualization, your data center is less than the sum of its parts. Although IBM has been doingstorage virtualization since 1974, Tony mentioned that most storage vendors were "late to the party".He argues that "internal virtualization" inside storage arrays is not enough, you need "external virtualization"(like the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller) to virtualize your entire infrastructure.What storage administrators would like is for storage to have consumer levels of "ease of use", and today'snon-virtualized storage environments are nowhere near that.
"The great advantage [the telephone] possesses over every other form of electrical apparatus consists in the fact that it requires no skill to operate the instrument."
- Alexander Graham Bell, 1878
I attended a few break-out sessions in the afternoon.
- Ralph Wescott, Pacific Northwest National Library
Ralph presented "Crisis of Capacity" which covered the drastic actions he had to take to handle power and coolingin their expanding data center during their summer months, where temperatures peak up to 105 degrees. This included creating "hot" and "cold" aisles onhis raised floor by re-organizing the perforated floor tiles, and doing a better job standardizing how cables areconnected to the back of racks and up through the ceiling to maximize airflow. An amp-meter on each power strip was used to measure the powerused at each rack, which allowed them to better prioritize their efforts. Their Air Conditioning unit was only 12inches from the concrete floor, and raising it to 18 inches greatly reduced noise and vibration. Adding a second AC unit made a world of difference. Finally, they eliminatedKVMs, because people who use KVMs break other parts of thedata center. His rule of thumb: the cooling requirements will be 50% of the rated power requirements for equipment.
- Terry Yoshi, Intel internal IT department, as a member of the SNIA's end user council
Terry presented "Taming the SAN Complexity". The problem with "complexity" as a concept is that it is very subjective, difficult to quantify, and therefore difficult to manage. He presented complexity in four areas:Organizational structure of the company as a whole; skill sets required of the IT staff; business process andprocedures; and technology. Dealing with complexity is a battle between Old School (because we've always doneit this way) and New School (because it is new and different technology). Storage Area Networks are inherentlya "shared resource", and the increased complexity is a direct result of the low reliability of the componentsand devices it is composed of. People should focus on the "Total Cost of Ownership" (TCO) for a SAN, and not just the initial acquisitionprice of SAN gear.He was not a fan of the "dual/multiple" vendor strategy that many companies employto reduce costs. His suggestion that things should be tried out first on your "test SAN" caused some chuckles,as few have such a thing. Finally, he suggested not only documenting "Best Practices" and "Best Known Methods"but also things that have been found not to work, his do-not-try-this-at-home list.
- Tony Antony, Cisco marketing manager for Optical products
This was an overview of the technologies available for long distance connections for disaster recovery,business continuity, and resilience. He covered three levels.
His rule of thumb: one buffer credit for every kilometer at 2Gbps speed (for every 2km at 1Gbps).
- IP - Fibre Channel of IP (FCIP) offers the greatest "global" distance but forces people into asynchronous mirroring.
- SONET/SDH - SONET is what we call it in the USA, and SDH is what it is called in other countries. This provides state-to-state or "out-of-region" distances, which is ideal to meet certain government regulations for homeland defense. He suggests this is offered when dark fiber or DWDM is not available.
- DWDM/CWDM - this is using a prism to run multiple colors of light through a single fiber optic cable. CWDM ischeaper, but only handles 8 signals per cable. DWDM can handle 32 to 160 signals per cable, but is more expensive.
The day ended at the "Expo". I hung out at the IBM booth to help answer questions and network with others.
technorati tags: IBM, SNW, Ron Milton, ComputerWorld, Vincent Franceschini, SNIA, SAIC, Barry Rudolph, Al Gore, Inconvenient Truth, presence awareness, Tony Asaro, ESG, Alexander Graham Bell, Ralph Wescott, Pacific Northwest National Library, Terry+Yoshi, Intel