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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior Software Engineer for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
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Michael Scott, one of my "Second Life" builder/scripters, for demonstrating client-focused dedication to IBM's corporate values.
Our site manager, Terri Mitchell, did a recap of all our recent awards and accomplishments.Of the nine Design Innovation awards won by IBM this year at the CeBIT conference, eight were for IBM System Storage products!
The IBM System Storage EXP3000: an entry-level data storage server that is optimized for cost-sensitive and space-limited environments and employs a user-centered design that enables ease of use and simple tool-less installation and removal of all components.
The IBM System Storage N7000 Series: a modular disk storage system that delivers high-end enterprise storage and data management value ideal for large-scale applications, while helping to anticipate growth, maintaindata availability and reduce costs.
The IBM System Storage N5000 Series: a modular disk storage system designed to address the entire spectrum of data availability challenges while offering value in price and scalability. Built-in enterprise serviceability and manageability features support efforts to increasereliability and simplify storage infrastructure and maintenance.
The IBM System Storage N3700: a filer that integrates storage and storage processing into a single unit, facilitating affordable network deployments.
The IBM System Storage DS4700: a NEBS-compliant disk storage server designed to address requirements for companies in the telecommunications industry, as well as other segments, such as oil and gas, meeting standardsfor electromagnetic compatibility, thermal robustness, earthquake and office vibration resistance, and provides protection for the product components from airborne contaminants.
The IBM System Storage EXP810: a data storage expansion unit capable of 4.8 Terabytes of physical storage, with a user-centered and tool-less design featuring redundant power, cooling, and disk modules for ease of use and simple serviceability.
The IBM System Storage TS3400: an affordable, space-friendly tape library for users in remote locations that supports enterprise-class technology and encryption capabilities.
A representative from Tucson's Brewster Center presented Terri an award, thanking IBM for its strong support for the community through various charity initiatives.
The final speaker was a new IBM client, Tony Casella, the IT Director of the town of Marana. Recently, the town of Marana selected IBM products made big news. Arizona is the fastest growing state in the USA, and the town of Marana, just north of Tucson, is one of the fastest growing communities in Arizona. The town is growing so large that it will soon spill over from Pima into Pinal county, and will be the first town in Arizona authorized to span county boundaries.
"Do you know what I do?" Mr. Mondavi recalls Mr. Gallo asked him when they first met. "Yes, you run the largest winery in the country," recalls Mr. Mondavi, then in his mid-20s. "No," Ernest corrected him. "I go out and visit customers in stores."
Robert Smith (aka Radio Voom) reports on National Public Radio that Second Life is now being used for campaigning for political candidates. It used to be that political candidates took trains and buses across the country, meeting people, discussing their issues, and getting a feel for what is going on in the hearts and minds of their potential voters. With the development of TV and Radio, candidates traveled less, hoping to get their word out to people who would listen to them. Using Second Life and other social networking tools brings candidates back to having conversations with the people they hope to represent.
Of course, many of these candidates are old, and are learning internet social networking skills for the first time. John McCain, my senator from Arizona, is running for President at 70 years old! It's true that old dogs CAN learn new tricks.
IBM is investing heavily into Second Life, as are many other forward-thinking companies, to explore the age-old human need for connectedness, community and dialog. I've asked my team to all get their avatars up and running in Second Life. Granted there is a bit of a learning curve, but everybody handles change in different ways, some better than others.
"Knowledge is the antidote to fear." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Why are most of these guys (and girls) with over a billion US dollars in net worth still working? Perhaps because they embrace new ideas, and are on the thrill seeking side of humanity. I guess I am too. I'll be thrill-seeking in Chicago this weekend, celebrating St. Patrick's day.
Alan was a leader in blogging about IBM Lotus technologies and was very helpfulto me over the past few years in deploying new Lotus technologies at the IBM TucsonExecutive Briefing Center. The Lotus team taught me how to use Second Life, using theLotusSphere 2007 build to demonstrate the various possibilities that we used to run IBM System Storage events last year.
Alan, I wish you the best of luck on your exciting new position!
Well, there's little to no chance we'll get snow in Tucson the rest of this year, so I built a snowman out in Second Life. That's my avatar on the right, andI am an eightbar specialist. Eightbar refers to our logo.
This was part of an IBM "Holiday Party" where dozens of IBMers met "in the virtual world" to participate in 3D competitions,I entered the "Build a Snowman" competition, since I am still a beginner at this. This was whatI was able to come up with in 20 minutes that we had to get it done. Why I made mine out of woodwith different colors was so that I could stand out from the crowd. Everyone else used traditionalwhite snowy textures.
Others had a more challenging "Build a Snow Globe" where you have to write scripts to get thelittle snow flakes to move around. This for the advanced builders of our group.
This is still new, emerging technology, but eventually, Second Life and other MMOs could be used to market products,that people can view from all three dimensions, talk to a technical specialist, and get all questions answered.It could be used for education, shopping around, and collaborating with others.
Anyways, I haven't heard the results, but I had fun anyways.
Today, I went looking for reading-glasses. Unfamiliar with my surroundings, I asked several people where I might be able to find and purchase these, and was sent in various directions. My first stop was a bookstore. It would make sense that since many people need reading glasses to read the books, that they would sell them there, but no. The staff didn't know where I could go, but pointed me in the direction of a mall. At the mall, I found a pharmacy. Many pharmacies sell reading glasses, so I stopped in, but no, not this one. The pharmacists suggested the super-store nearby. I walked in to the super-store, and asked the first employee where they keep their reading glasses, and they said the other corner. The other corner was the electronics department. It made sense that they sold CDs and DVDs in the same section as the equipment that plays them, but reading glasses? Skeptical, I went to the pharmacy department, and the young and beautiful lady (everyone is young, thin and beautiful here) had me follow her, and she led me back to the electronics department, whereupon she pointed to a rack of sunglasses. I indicated that I need reading glasses, not sunglasses. She pulled one out, and it was indeed reading glasses, 1.25, just what I was looking for. Others were tinted, so you can read the newspaper out in the sunlight. The pair I chose cost only $97 in the local currency.
After reading the last sentence, you might be thinking I am describing my "avatar" in Second Life, but no, I am talking about my search for reading glasses on the streets of Mexico. I am here this week in meetings with IBM Business Partners and sales reps to discuss IBM's latest System Storage products and offerings.
We used to tell people they should "clothe" servers with storage. IBM offers both, so yes it makes sense to offer both as part of a complete solution. However, when you look through a dictionary definition "to clothe" you learn it is to dress, wrap or cover with clothing, an implication that it is external, and perhaps temporary, easily changed, like switching from sunglasses to reading glasses. In Second Life, objects can be "worn", simply by attaching or detaching them to your "avatar". Sometimes clothing serves a purpose, like reading glasses, provides protection, like raincoats, and other times, more decorative, like"icing on the cake" or "gold plating".
This concept was fine 50 years ago, when we were in a server-centric world, and dumb storage devices were attached to very intelligent servers. Back then, we used the derogatory term "subsystems" to emphasize that storage was just part of the server, not a system of its own.
Today, we live in an information-centric world. The information outlives the media, and the media outlives the servers that access it. It is not unreasonable to attach dozens or hundreds of servers to a single storage system, or collection of storage systems. Over 20 percent of IBM System Storage DS8000 series, for example, are attached to Windows rack-optimized or blade servers. Imagine a refrigerator surrounded by dozens or hundreds of pizza boxes. Storage is no longer a subsystem, but a system on its own right, dressed, wrapped or covered by servers that deliver the right information, to the right people, at the right time.
So perhaps we should reverse it, telling people they should "clothe" their storage with servers!
Today was the "First Ever Live Virtual Virtualization Tech Fair" sponsored by IBM and VMware. This was a 1-day event hosted by Unisfair.
The day included presentations done at a conference call, along with exhibition booths.
We had an exhibition booth exclusively for "storage virtualization" featuring our IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (disk virtualization) and IBM System Storage TS7520 Virtualization Engine (a virtual tape library, or VTL).
People who were logged in were represented in silhouette form. When someone walked into the booth, our army of "booth reps" were able to chat with them and answer their questions. They could also peruse the various online materials we made available about each product.
Here are some of my observations:
A lot of questions were related to IBM's support for VMware. Although VMware is now currently owned by EMC, pending a spin-off IPO, IBM is its biggest reseller, given IBM's vast experience in server virtualization. Ironically, IBM's SAN Volume Controller supports VMware better than EMC's own storage virtualization product, Invista.
People also familiar with Second Life thought this 2-D "silhouette" version eliminated the need to configure and dress up your avatar as is required in participating in Second Life events. However, being only ableto chat, send e-mail and show web pages seemed less immersive than what Second Life can offer.
This event generated over 60 leads. We will pass on the contact information to the appropriate sales team.
IBM came out with their latest "5 in 5". These are five predictions for technologies that will havean impact over the next five years, summarized on 5 pages. Before I give my take on this year's set,here is a quick recap of[Last Year's 5 in 5]:
3-D representations of the human body to improve health care
This prediction is based on the idea that most medical mistakes result from lack of informationabout the patient. A 3-D avatar of the patient would allow the doctor to click on the section ofthe body, and this would trigger retrieval of patient records, relevant X-rays, MRI images, and so on.For example, IBM System Storage Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) provides the storage that wouldallow any doctor to access these records, even if the image was taken at a different facility.
Unfortunately, this prediction only applies to patients who can actually afford to see a doctor. Apparently,no amount of technology, no matter how cool it is, can convince governments to make health care somethingeveryone has access to. Michael Moore has done a good job explaining this in his film documentary [Sicko].
Digital passport for food
Using RFID tags and second generation barcodes, you will have access to details of a food's origin,transportation conditions, and impact to the environment. Much of this information is already gathered,just not stored in a database accessible to the consumer.
Last year, the term "locavore" was the2007 Word of the Year for the Oxford American Dictionary, referring to people who limit what they eatto food produced within a certain radius, from family farms and locally-owned businesses.Here is an excerpt from a [Locavores] website:
Our food now travels an average of 1,500 miles before ending up on our plates. This globalization of the food supply has serious consequences for the environment, our health, our communities and our tastebuds.
Certainly, I am all for selling storage capacity to the food industry to help store vasts amount ofinformation for this, and certainly some people will be able to make smarter decisions based on thisinformation. This is not the first time this idea came up. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration introduced [nutrition labeling requirements] on thehope that people would choose more healthier foods. Despite this, people still opt for white bread, iceberg lettuce, and processed meats, so possibly having more information about where food comes from, and how it was transported, may not mean much to some consumers.
Technology to manage your own carbon footprint
"Smart energy" technologies allow you to walk the talk, by managing your own carbon footprint inyour home. For example, if you forgot to turn off the heat or air conditioner before leaving thehouse on your commute to work, your home would call your mobile phone, so that you can turn aroundand go back and correct that mistake. Better yet, IBM is working with others to provide web-enabledelectric meters that would allow you to turn off systems from work or cell phone browser.
Of course, such technology already exists for the data center. IBM Systems Director Active EnergyManager (AEM) allows you to monitor the actual usage of your servers and storage devices, and insome cases make adjustments to control energy consumption. This can feed into the IBM TivoliUsage and Accounting Manager software to incorporate energy usage as part of the charge-backcalculations. See the [IBM Press Release] formore details.
Cars that drive themselves
Not only will cars that drive themselves reduce the number of drunk-driving accidents, it canalso help reduce congestion in big cities, by routing traffic to different directions, based onGPS and presence-aware technologies. Stockholm (Sweden) has already reduced peak hour traffic by 20 percentusing this approach.
While I admire the concept, cars are perhaps the least energy-efficient mode of transportation.Often, a family can only afford a single vehicle, and it is purchased based on the worst-case scenario.A friend of mine has only two children, but a sever-person mini-van that gets only 17 MPG. Why suchan energy-inefficient vehicle? Because she occasionally drives her daughter and her friends tosoccer practice, and that represents the worst-case scenario, minimizing the parent/child ratio. Theother 99 percent of the time, she is driving by herself, or with one child, and consuming a lot ofgasoline in the process.
A better approach would be to find technology that connects airports, trains, buses and light rail forpublic transportation to greatly reduce the need to drive a car in the first place.
The idea that a family can have only one vehicle plays in the storage arena as well. Larger companiescan afford to have different storage for different workloads. The IBM System Storage DS8000 high-end disk system for their large OLTP anddatabase workloads, an XIV Nextra for their Web 2.0 storage needs, DR550 to hold their compliance data,and so on. Smaller companies are often tasked to find a single solution for all their needs, andfor them, IBM offers the IBM System Storage N series, providing a "unified storage" platform.
Increased dependence on cell phones
Before the cell phone, the last don't-leave-home-without-it technology most of us carried was the credit card. Now, IBM predicts that we will be even more dependent on our cell phones, becoming our banker, ticket broker, and shopping buddy.For example, you could use your cell phone to take a picture of a shirt at the mall, and it will then show you what youwould look like wearing that shirt, on a 3-D avatar representation of yourself, or perhaps your spouse, and getinformation on what discounts are available, or where else the shirt is being offered.
None of this example actually uses the "phone" part of the cell phone, however the cell phone is one device thatnearly everyone carries, so it becomes the development platform for all other technologies to be based on.
The common theme running through these is that it can be helpful to store more information than we do today,provided we make it accessible to the people who need it to make better decisions.
Thirteen months ago, fellow IBM blogger Bob Sutor suggested the potential for avatars to [move from one virtual world to another].I thought this was far, far in the future myself, but this week, IBM and Linden Labs, the makersof Second Life, successfully teleported an avatar from SecondLife over to OpenSim. Here is the[Press Release].
If you are thinking there is no business value here, consider that Cisco has this incredible [11-minute demonstration video] that haspresenters in one city on the stage at another city.
Well, my job is done here in Tokyo, and my team is off next to Mumbai, India. This of course will takethe bulk of tomorrow in airplanes and airports, and not be as easy as teleporting in the metaverse!
Based on our success with Second Life launch event last week, see my previous blog posts hereandhere, people have asked me what tools and software we used. The ones that were the most useful were:
GIMP - available at gimp.org - is an open-source alternative to Adobe PhotoShop or Corel PaintShopPro, and is useful for editing photos and graphics, such as the surfaces of 3-D objects and clothing.
Avimator - available at avimator.com - for the gestures to animate your avatar. This allowed us to hold microphones up to our mouth to speak, hold a pointing stick to focus attention on specific things, or to drink coffee afterwards.
FRAPS - available at fraps.com - to capture video and screen shots. The free version is limited, so our designated "camera crew" purchased the full-price version, and worked very well.
I can't believe I have been blogging for a year now!
I have Jennifer Jones from IBM to thank for getting this started. She was my predecessor in the job I have now, and she was moving on to bigger and better things, and during the transition for me to take over, she suggested that we start a blog, podcast, or similar. While there are many blogs and podcasts inside the firewall of IBM, I wanted something to be accessible to all of our IBM sales team, IBM Business Partners, existing and prospective clients, and to enable comments, to enable two-waycommunication. Podcasts are very one-way, so we chose a blog instead.Getting it set up took a while, convincing our own management that this was worthwhile, and dealing with our legal department on the IBM blogging guidelines of what we can and cannot write about, we finally got it going last year, launching September 1, just in time for our 50 years of disk systems innovation campaign.
It has been a wild ride, a great learning experience, and has proven quite fulfilling for job satisfaction. Here are some observations and lessons I have learned along the way.
Roller is the open source blog server that drives Sun Microsystem's blogs.sun.com employee blogging site, IBM DeveloperWorks blogs that this blog exists on, thousands of internal blogs at IBM Blog Central, the JRoller Java community site, and hundreds of others world-wide.Whereas there might be fancier blog systems elsewhere that I could have chosen, hosting my blog with IBM Developerworksseemed like a good choice. I can access from any web-browser capable machine, and enter my blog posts in nativeHTML, that I develop in the tool itself, or offline with a standard basic text editor like Microsoft Notepad that I can then cut-and-paste back in.
One lesson I learned the hard way was that Roller generates the Permalink URL for each blog post based on the first five words of the title. For that reason, it is important to chose an appropriate and unique title, avoiding the use of punctuation, quotation marks, or pharmaceutical "enhancement products" that might get rejected by SPAM filters.Once chosen, you can't change the title afterwards as it won't match the Permalink anymore.My blog post "Aperi is (enhancement product) for SMI-S" caused no end of grief to our Press Release team.
Writing blog posts in native HTML is not as hard as it sounds. I am limited to hosting a maximum of 24MB of files, and they can only be jpg, jpeg, gif, png, mp3, pdf or ppt format.So, wherever possible, I point to other websites for content.For those new to blogging, I recommendThe Barebones Guide to HTML.
Roller also generates for me a spreadsheet of all my page views for the week. Tracking blog traffic closely is as crazyas checking your company's stock price every day. These "web-stat" e-mails get filed directly into my Bacn folder on Lotus Notes.
In my earlyadvice to bloggers, I mentioned my choice of Bloglines as my RSS feed reader. When I subscribe to a new blog, I specify Full entries, not Partial,which allows me to scan it quickly, but filters out many of the non-text content like videos. It also allowed meto see what my own blog posts looked like from within a reader, so that I can write them appropriately.
I find if valuable to read other blogs, including those written by employees of our toughest competitors. Evenif you don't blog yourself, following blogs can be extremely valuable. Be careful what you leave as comments onother blogs, they may come back to haunt you later.
Currently, I track 55 blogs, some about storage,marketing, Web 2.0 issues, Second Life, Linux, or other areas of interest. I prefer blogs that make only 1-5 postsper week, so blogs like LifeHacker and LifeRemix are off my Bloglines list, but are excellent resourceswhen I am searching for something specific. If you think 55 is a lot of blogs, consider Timothy Ferriss' post onHow RobertScoble reads 622 RSS feeds each morning.
I have quite an international readership, so I have to be careful using American idioms and pop cultural references.For example, in my blog post IBM acquires Softek, I mentioned "shotgun weddings" and had various responses asking what exactly did that mean,all from readers outside the USA. I've learned that sometimes you need to link them to an American Slang dictionary,or Wikipedia encyclopedia entry to explain these terms and phrases.
Technoraticurrently tracks over 100 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media. Getting my blogtracked had some issues. You have to join, thenpost a "claim"on your own blog. My mistake was having a case-sensitive URL with a mix of upper and lower case letters, but Technorati prefers all lower case. IBM worked with Technorati to get this resolved.
Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking website -- the primary use is to store your bookmarks online, which allows you to access the same bookmarks from any computer and add bookmarks from anywhere, too. On del.icio.us, you can use tags to organize and remember your bookmarks, which is a much more flexible system than folders.
I use Firefox, Safari, Dillo and Internet Explorer web browsers, so it is nice that I have access to allmy bookmarks in the same consistent manner. When I see content on a website that I might like to reference laterin a blog, I tag it with del.icio.us so that I can get to it later.
Fellow GTD-ers will quickly recognize this acronym, but for the rest of you, it refers to David Allen's book "Getting Things Done®".This is a great book! I learned about it reading other people's blogs, and found it incrediblyuseful helping me organize my time.There are various online tools available to help employ this method. I use Lotus Connections Activitiesfor group projects with co-workers at IBM, and BackPack for projects withmy friends outside of work.
The success of YouTube encouraged IBM to launch IBM TV, a portal for IBM's video and multimedia assets and make it easier for IBM employees, customers, partners and prospects to access and view IBM multimedia. The plan is to have eight anchor episodes per year, professionally hosted by TV personality, Joe Washington, and point to related offers and other resources for viewers to learn more.
Blogging also introduced me to Second Life. I asked around if anyone else within IBM was using Second Life, anddiscovered quite a few. I got invited to join our internal Eightbar group, and participated in various events, including an IBM Holidayparty that I discussed in my blog post"Building a Snowman in Second Life".
In April, we had a launch of our newest products in Second Life, and we plan to have two more Second Life events,September 20 and another in November, staged as "Meet the Experts" question and answer panels.
I wrap up with Facebook. Actually, whereas most of my Web 2.0 efforts have been work-related, I have quite a few friends and family who follow my blog. Several were inspired to start their own blogs, such asPassages from Pamand Barry Whyte on Storage Virtualization. Bridging the gap is Facebook, something I can use to keep tabs on my friends, as well as my storage industry-related contacts.
Wow, that's quite a lot in one year. Well, I am done with my meetings down here in Sao Paulo, Brazil. My colleauges and I are returning tonight to enjoy the long Labor Day weekend.