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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.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson
Sometimes, it's difficult to explain the products I manage to people outside the IT storage industry. How do you explain FCP vs. FICON, Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR) heads, the SMI-S interface, etc. enough to then explain how your job relates to those technologies. At least my friends and family read this blog, so they can somewhat understand some of the things I am working on. When I visit my folks on Sundays, we sometimes discuss items they read in my blog that week.
In addition to a "take your children to work day", we have discussed within IBM a "take your parents to work day", especially for the young new hires who have a hard time explaining what their new job is to the rest of their family.
The problem is not just your parents, but any of your co-workers old enough to be parents who haven't bothered to keep up with the latest advancements in Web 2.0 technology. Here are some examples:
A project leader working with a technology partner asked if me if there was a difference between a "blog" and a "wiki" and which should his team use. This was not a simple yes/no answer, and involved some explanation, conversation and understanding of what he was trying to accomplish.
For one of my meetings, someone instant-messaged me asking where it was, was it "face-to-face" (F2F) or Conference call (CC). I replied back, "A2A w/CC" (avatar-to-avatar with voice over conference call). When you are meeting other avatars in-world in Second Life, it gets quite distracting having everyone typing away, with their hands and fingers moving furiously, so we use a conference call to complement our 3D interaction.
That's why I was very excited to seeLinden Lab announces voice beta in Second Life. It won't be fully ready until later this year, but adding voice to Second Life will greatly reduce the hurdles we now have trying to coordinate conference calls with in-world activity.
I realize not everyone can keep up with all the new and different technologies, but the social networking aspects of some of these new developments are worth looking into.
It's official! My "blook" Inside System Storage - Volume I is now available.
This blog-based book, or “blook”, comprises the first twelve months of posts from this Inside System Storage blog,165 posts in all, from September 1, 2006 to August 31, 2007. Foreword by Jennifer Jones. 404 pages.
IT storage and storage networking concepts
IBM strategy, hardware, software and services
Disk systems, Tape systems, and storage networking
Storage and infrastructure management software
Second Life, Facebook, and other Web 2.0 platforms
IBM’s many alliances, partners and competitors
How IT storage impacts society and industry
You can choose between hardcover (with dust jacket) or paperback versions:
This is not the first time I've been published. I have authored articles for storage industry magazines, written large sections of IBM publications and manuals, submitted presentations and whitepapers to conference proceedings, and even had a short story published with illustrations by the famous cartoon writer[Ted Rall].
But I can say this is my first blook, and as far as I can tell, the first blook from IBM's many bloggers on DeveloperWorks, and the first blook about the IT storage industry.I got the idea when I saw [Lulu Publishing] run a "blook" contest. The Lulu Blooker Prize is the world's first literary prize devoted to "blooks"--books based on blogs or other websites, including webcomics. The [Lulu Blooker Blog] lists past year winners. Lulu is one of the new innovative "print-on-demand" publishers. Rather than printing hundredsor thousands of books in advance, as other publishers require, Lulu doesn't print them until you order them.
I considered cute titles like A Year of Living Dangerously, orAn Engineer in Marketing La-La land, or Around the World in 165 Posts, but settled on a title that matched closely the name of the blog.
In addition to my blog posts, I provide additional insights and behind-the-scenes commentary. If you go to the Luluwebsite above, you can preview an entire chapter in its entirety before purchase. I have added a hefty 56-page Glossary of Acronyms and Terms (GOAT) with over 900 storage-related terms defined, which also doubles as an index back to the post (or posts) that use or further explain each term.
So who might be interested in this blook?
Business Partners and Sales Reps looking to give a nice gift to their best clients and colleagues
Managers looking to reward early-tenure employees and retain the best talent
IT specialists and technicians wanting a marketing perspective of the storage industry
Mentors interested in providing motivation and encouragement to their proteges
Educators looking to provide books for their classroom or library collection
Authors looking to write a blook themselves, to see how to format and structure a finished product
Marketing personnel that want to better understand Web 2.0, Second Life and social networking
Analysts and journalists looking to understand how storage impacts the IT industry, and society overall
College graduates and others interested in a career as a storage administrator
And yes, according to Lulu, if you order soon, you can have it by December 25.
Well, we had another successful event in Second Life today.
Unlike our April 26 launch of our System Storage products for IBM Business Partners only, this time we decided this time to make it as a "Meet the Storage Experts" Q&A Panel format, and open up registration to everyone. Thesubject matter experts sat at the front of the room on four stools. We had six rows of chairs arrangedsemi-circularly.
Shown above, from left to right, are the avatars of our four experts:
IBM System Storage N series, focusing on recent N3000 disk system announcements
Harold Pike (holding the microphone while speaking)
IBM System Storage DS3000 and DS4000 series, focusing on recent DS3000 disk system announcements
IBM System Storage TS series, focusing on recent TS2230, TS3400 and TS7700 tape system announcements
IBM storage networking, focusing on recent IBM SAN256B director blade announcements
While Eric was a veteran Second Lifer, having presented at our April event, the other three were trainedon how to raise their hand, speak into the microphone, sit on the stool, and so on. I want to thank allof our experts for putting in this effort!
The event was produced by Katrina H Smith. She did a great job, and made sure we were on top ofall the issues and tasks required to get the job done. Running a Second Life event is every bit ashard as running a real face-to-face event. We had several meetings to discuss venue details, placementof chairs, placement of product demos, audio/video recording, wall decorations, tee-shirt and coffee mug design, logistics, and so on.
I acted as moderator/emcee for the event. That is my back in the picture above. The process wassimple, modeled after the "Birds of a Feather" sessions at events like SHARE and the IBMStorage and Storage Networking Symposium. We threw out a list of topics the experts would cover,and people in the audience would "raise their left hand". I, as the moderator, would then walkover to each person, and hold out the microphone for them to ask the question. I would then repeat the question and ask the appropriate expert to provide an answer. We defined gestures onhow to "raise hand" and "put hand down" that we gave to each registered participant.
We had four dedicated "camera-avatars" in world to capture both video and screenshots.Our video editors are now working to edit "highlight videos" that we can use at future events, for training materials, and for our internal "BlueTube" online video system.
The room was filled with examples of each of our products, made into 3D objects that were dimensionallycorrect, and "textured" with photographs of the actual products. If you click on an object, you get a "notecard" that provided more information. Special thanks to Scott Bissmeyer for making all of theseobjects for us.
We made posters of each expert and placed them in all four corners of the room. On the bottom of each coffee mug was a picture of each of the experts, and if you walked under each of the posters, you were"dispensed" a coffee mug matching the expert shown in the poster.Participants could "Collect all Four!" When you bring the coffee mug up to takea sip, the picture on the bottom of the mug is exposed for all to see.And as a final give-away to the audience, we made a variety of event tee-shirts and polo-shirts.
At the end of the session, we asked everyone to click on the "Survey" kiosk near the exit door. We askedsix simple questions using SurveyMonkey.com that took only a fewminutes to process. We found asking questions immediately at the end of the event was the best way tocapture this feedback.
From a "Green" perspective, we had people registered from the following countries: US, India, Mexico,Australia, United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Chile, China, Canada, and Venezuela. Second Lifeallows all these people who probably could not travel, or could not afford the time and expense to travel,to participate in a simulated face-to-face meeting without energy consumption of traditional travel methods.
More importantly, we got several leads for business. People often ask "Yes, but is there any businessassociated with this?" This time, there was, based on the answers to the questions, several avatars asked for a real sales call to follow-up on the products and offerings they were discussed.
With such a great success, we have already scheduled our next Second Life event, November 8. Mark your calendars! I'll postmore details on the registration process of the November event when available.
Well, the weather here has turned awful, so I better turn off my computer to avoid lightning-strike damage.
For those looking for something to do to enjoy the "4th of July" US Independence day holiday tomorrow, thereis the [Team America: Sing-a-long at Tucson's Loft Cinemaat 6pm, you can still see the fireworks after the show is over. I did this last year and it was a lot of fun.
Also, you can check out the IBM Wimbledon build on Second Life. Here's the SLURL:[http://slurl.com/secondlife/IBM%207/133/180/23].Several IBMers will be "in world" at this virtual location on 4th of July. For all of my readers looking to check out Second Life, see what IBM can do, or talk to people who are familiar with this technology, here's your chance.
As for me, I'll be spending my "long weekend" in an airplane. Here's my travel schedule.
July 7-11: Tokyo, Japan - business meetings with IBM sales reps
July 13-18: Mumbai, India - business meetings with IBM business partners
If you will be at any of these locations on any of these dates and want to meet up, please let me know.You can click on the "send e-mail to Tony Pearson" button on the right panel of my blog.
(I was hoping that while I was in Asia, I could stop over and visit the schools I helped in Nepal and my friends at the Open Learning Exchange [OLE Nepal] as part of the One Laptop PerChild [OLPC Nepal] program, but I did not get all my ducks lined up for this with the appropriate travel approvals, visas and logistics. My apologies to Bryan, Sulochan and the rest of the team. Perhaps next year!)
Several of my IBM colleagues will be attending the "Virtual Worlds 2007" conference today and tomorrow. This conference sold out so quickly that they have already scheduled a second one for October. The focus is on 3-D internet technologies likeSecond Life. Attendance is expected at over 600 people.
IBM is investing heavily in this new concept of v-business. Last year, I was one of only 325 IBMers on Second Life. Now, according to this Better than Life blog entry from Grady Booch, IBM Fellow, the number is over 4000!
Of course, the challenge for IBM, and others, is learning to market in virtual worlds. Already, my team is in-world, and we meet several times a week. Using Second Life is quickly becoming an essential business skill, like participating in conference calls, or responding to instant messages.
What does meeting in-world entail?
Scheduling a time and a place
Finding a time that people can meet is no different than scheduling a audio or video conference call. In general, you don't have to worry about travel, but you do have to be actively somewhere connected to everyone else.
Finding a place involves actually determining the island, region and coordinates to hold the meeting. You need to find a place with enough seating. You don't have to worry about daylight, each person can control how much or little sunlight shows up on their screen. You do have to make sure you pick a spot that nobody else plans to use at that same time. Just like scheduling conference rooms at the site or hotel, we have to schedule rooms in advance.
To avoid this hassle, I have created the "pocket conference room". This is a single object that I can "rez" onto the ground, from my inventory, with 40 chairs, a PowerPoint presentation screen, a podium for a speaker to stand behind, and stools for speakers to sit on if they are next on the agenda. Now, I can hold impromptu meetings in any sandbox, grassy knoll, or the roof top of a building.
As with any other meeting, you need some basic ground rules. I am not talking the usual "no shooting, no gambling, no selling" rules that you see everywhere in Second Life. Instead, rules like an avatar must stand up before speaking. Anyone with a question must first "raise their hand" and get recognized by the chair. These ground rules can be as formal as Robert's Rules of Order or more casual, depending on who is participating.
It costs 10 Linden Dollars (L$) per PAGE to upload a PowerPoint presentation. This has the immediate benefit of having everyone spend more time and effort on their presentation, trying to cut down the number of charts, and focus more on what they are going to say.
Public Speaking Skills
It is amazing. People who are too scared to speak in front of an audience in Real Life have no problem having their avatar stand in front of other avatars in Second Life. This has greatly broadened the pool of speakers to tap into.Are you a woman with a husky masculine voice? Are you a man with a high-pitched feminine voice? Now, you can create an avatar that matches your voice.
This turns out to be the biggest challenge. In Real Life, organizing a face-to-face meeting involves time and effort making sure the venue has everything you need, a platform, a podium, good Audio/Video system, etc. All people have to do is show up, sit in a chair and listen.
In Second Life, however, the aspects of venue are all covered, but getting people to show up is another story. People have to sign up for Second Life account, create an avatar, wear appropriate virtual clothing, figure out how to teleport near the venue, walk or fly the difference to get to the exact building and room, master the sitting-in-a-chair and hold-coffee-and-sip-occasionally process, and pay attention.
Perhaps the best part of Second Life is that if you are not paying attention, your avatar noticeably falls asleep, into a hunched-over position, what is called "afk" (short for Away From Keyboard). On the other hand, if you do need to step away from your desk, you can put your avatar in "afk" mode immediately, tell everyone why and perhaps when you'll be back, and then re-activate when you return. This is one of the best improvements over regular audio conference calls.
I suspect the need for having places in Second Life to hold meetings will become more and more in demand.At a time when real-estate sales in the US is slowing down, Coldwell Banker's Second Life efforts are ramping up. I am not making this up. Coldwell Banker is one of the nation's largest real estate brokerage firms. They are trying to bring the same "adult supervision" to virtual real-estate transactions, offering to help people buy and rent properties in Second Life.
Last Friday,The "Greater IBM Connection" team held a "red carpet" event, showcasing the winners of the Second Life "machinima".It is best explained on the Linden Lab website:
Machinima is the art of making real movies in virtual worlds.
Movies made in Second Life use the world's building, scripting, and avatar customization tools, working in real-time collaboration with people around the globe. You can use Second Life as your own virtual back lot, soundstage, choreography studio, costume and prop repository, and special effects house.
Chris Anderson, of Wired magazine, wrote a great article called The Long Tail.
This article became a book by the same name published earlier this year, and I just discovered it on a recent visit to Second Life. A lot of IBMers are now alsoSecond Lifers, and I suspect it is just a matter of time before we are conductingour customer briefings there, and getting our year-end bonuses paid directly in Linden bucks.(Those of you not familiar with Second Life can watch this 3-minute video fromthe folks at Text100)
Anyways, the Long Tail describes the new economy of entertainment thanks to digitalstorage. Here are some of the key insights.
In the past, entertainment was all about hits: hit songs, hit movies,hit novels, and this was primarily because of the economic realities restricted byphysical space. Chris writes: "An average movie theater will not show a film unless it can attract at least 1,500 people over a two-week run; that's essentially the rent for a screen. An average record store needs to sell at least two copies of a CD per year to make it worth carrying; that's the rent for a half inch of shelf space."
Things have changed. To drive the point home, Robbie Vann-Adibe (CEO of eCast), poses the trick question"What percentage of the top 10,000 titles in any online media store (Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, or any other) will rent or sell at least once a month?" The answer will surprise you. Write down your guess first, then go read here. His digital jukeboxes are able to play from a list of150,000 songs, not the few hundred you'd find at the Tap Room which is rated as having the best jukebox in Tucson.
The phenomenon is not just limited to music. "Take books," Chris writes, "The average Barnes & Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon's book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are..."
This has incredible implications for the storage industry. For one, content providers are going to dig deep into their archives to digitize and deliver "long tail" offerings. If they don't have a deep archive, many will start to build one. Second, the need to search through that large volume of content will become more critical. Classifying and indexing with the appropriate tags and metadata will be an important task.
It's been a while since I've talked about [Second Life].
The latest post on eightbar[Spimes, Motes and Data centers]discusses IBM's use of virtual world technology to analyze data centers in three dimensions.New World Note asks[What's The Point Of 3D Data Centers?]One would think that a simple monitoring tool based on a two-dimensional floor plan would be enough to evaluate a data center.
Enter Michael Osias, IBM (a.k.a Illuminous Beltran in Second Life). Some of the leading news sites havebegun to notice some 3D data centers that he has helped pioneer. UgoTrade writes up an article aboutMichael and the media attention in [The Wizard of IBM's 3DData Centers].
Of course, in presenting these "Real Life/Second Life" (RL/SL) interactive technologies, IBM is sometimes the target of ridicule. Why? Because IBM is 10 years ahead of everyone else. So, are there aspects of a data center where 3D interfaces makes sense? I think there is.
IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center has an awesome "topology viewer" that shows what servers are connectedto which switches, to which disk systems and tape libraries. This is all done in a 2D diagram, generated dynamicallywith data discovered through open standard interfaces, similar to what you might draw manually with toolslike Visio. Imagine, however, howmore powerful if it were a 3D viewer, with virtual equipment mapped to the physical location of each pieceof hardware on the data center floor, including the position on the rack and location on the data center floor.
Designing computer room air conditioning (CRAC) systems is actually a three dimensional problem. Cold air isfed underneath the raised floor, comes up through strategically placed "vent" tiles, taken in the front ofeach rack. Hot air comes out the back of each rack, and hopefully finds ceiling duct intake to get cooled again.The temperature six inches off the floor is different than the temperature six feet off the floor, and 3Dmonitor tools could be helpful in identifying "hot spots" that need attention. In this case "spimes" representsensors in the 3D virtual world, able to report back information to help diagnose problems or monitor events.
After many people left the mainframe in favor of running a single application per distributed server, the pendulumhas finally swung back. Companies are discovering the many benefits of changing this behavior. "Re-centralization" is the task at hand. Thanks to virtualization of servers, networks and storage, sharing common resources canonce again claim the benefits of economies of scale. In many cases, servers work together in collective unitsfor specific applications that might benefit better if consolidated together onto the same equipment.
IBM's "New Enterprise Data Center" vision recognizes that people will need to focus on the management aspectsof their IT infrastructure, and 3D virtual world technologies might be an effective way to getthe job done.
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.
Registration is now open for our next "Meet the Storage Experts" event in Second Life. All IBMers, clients and IBM Business Partners are welcome to attend. We will focus this time on DS3000 and N series disk systems, tape systems,and IBM storage networking gear.