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Tony Pearson is not a medical doctor, and this blog does not reference any IBM product or service that is intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, prevention or monitoring of a disease or medical condition, unless otherwise specified on individual posts.
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
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, 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!)
This week (actually April 29 to May 2) is IBM'sPartnerWorld 2007 conference.Over the past 10 years, IBM's shift to rely more heavily on business partners has proven to be a smart decision. IBM Business Partners can often focus on a specific region or industry much better, with laser-like focus.
Alan Lepofsky posts about The Value Of Social Networking which points to this same presentation about Web 2.0 concepts and ideas.He also points to this article in the Wall Street Journal titledPlaying Well With Others about IBM and their leadership in Web 2.0 technologies, such as those from our Lotus group.
Some quotes from the WSJ article I found interesting:
Some 26,000 IBM workers have registered blogs on the company's internal computer network where they opine on technology and their work.
Social networking is especially important for the 42% of IBM employees who regularly work from their homes or client locations rather than IBM facilities.
At most companies, public-relations managers and the human-resources department tightly control all electronic communications except for email and instant messaging. ... Not at IBM.
"Any employee can have a blog, a wiki or a podcast,..."
IBM owns more than 50 "islands" in Second Life and often uses them for lectures and group discussions.
Two years ago, IBM started Wiki Central to manage wikis for IBM groups. It now has more than 20,000 wikis online with more than 100,000 users.
Interesting in learning more about Web 2.0? The last page of the deck above has a good set of links and resources, for example, here are 23 Things to know about Web 2.0 to get you started.
Yesterday, most of the USA moved its clocks forward an hour. Arizona and Hawaii don't bother, as there is plenty of daylight in both states. While it may seem that Arizonans are not "affected" by Daylight Saving Time (DST), we are, because we have to deal with the time zone offsets with those we talk to in other states. (Note: it is SAVING not SAVINGS, many people mistakenly say "Daylight Savings Time", which is incorrect).
Year round, Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time (MST), which is GMT-7. Figuring out what time Arizona can be remembered by a simple mnemonic:
In the winter time, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona are all on MST, so best American ski resorts are all on the same time zone. People who hop from one ski resort to another by helicopter don't have to reset their watches as they move into or out of Arizona.
In the summer time, Arizonans head to San Diego, Los Angeles or other parts of California, where it is not so hot. California is on PDT, which is the same as MST. People who hop from Arizona wineries and vineyards to those in California and Oregon can easily cross the Arizona-California border without having to reset our watches.
Those in Second Life may have noticed that "Second Life time" (SL time) shifted from PST to PDT. That is because their servers reside in San Francisco, California.
We had a great event today! This was a first-of-a-kind product launch, using Second Life as the medium. We invited IBM Business Partners, industry analysts and reporters from the Press to have their "avatars" in-world to watch us launch new tape systems, archive and retention systems, and disk systems announced this month.
Andy Monshaw, IBM System Storage General Manager, welcomed everyone to the event, and introduced our three speakers.He mentioned that this was a great innovative way to meet, collaborate and forge relationships without the carbon pollution associated with travel required by a more traditional face-to-face meeting. We had attendees from the USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Colombia, and Brazil.
All the attendees were given a "goody bag" that contained IBM BP-logo clothing, animations and gestures to be used during the meeting.
Eric Buckley, one of our marketing managers for tape systems, introduced our complete line of LTO 4 tape systems, as wellas the TS7520 Virtualization Engine, a virtual tape library for Windows, UNIX and Linux servers. Eric had a virtual 3-Dversion of an LTO cartridge that is photo-realistic and dimensionally correct.
Funda Eceral, our solutions manager for archive and retention offerings, presented the new version of the IBM System Storage DR550, the DR550 file system gateway, and the IBM System Storage Multilevel Grid Archive Manager. At first we thought we would "pass the microphone" from speaker to speaker, but it turned out to be easier just to give all three speakers their own microphone.
Last, but not least, was David Tareen, marketing manager for disk systems, covering the entry-level DS3000 Express disk system bundles designed for our SMB client. David used a black-and-brown pointer stick to point out specific things on the charts.
After the presentations, Kristie Bell, VP of Marketing for IBM System Storage, hosted a Question & Answer (Q&A) panel.Avatars rose their left hand to indicate they had a question.
We thought it would be a good idea to have a few minutes at the end to socialize over a cup of coffee. This involved making a "coffee machine" that dispensed coffee, and the appropriate animations and gestures so that everyone could sip the coffee, and hold the coffee at waist level when they were talking.
The event was held upstairs in one of the conference rooms of the IBM Briefing Center, located on "IBM 8" island.Many people went to the ground floor to look at the many IBM System Storage products on display. Unlike a picture on a web-page, Second Life gives you a 3-D view that you can walk around each product, and get a feel for the size and shape of the hardware.
We had four photographers and camera-persons on hand to capture still shots, video, audio, and chat text, and are working now to combine them for marketing collateral. I want to thank the builders, script programmers, animators, clothing designers, speakers, editors, and channel enablement team for making this event such a great success!
It seems like I just get out of one conference, and into another. This week I am at Pulse 2008, which combines the best of IBM Tivoli and Maximo into one conference.Like many conferences, this one starts on Sunday, and ends on Thursday.
We're at the Swan and Dolphin hotels at [Walt Disney World] in Orlando, Florida. I've been to several conferences in Orlando, but this is my first time at the Swanand Dolphin. (When I walked into the main lobby, I had a bout of "deja vu". IBM LotusSphere was here last year, and they had a complete replica made in SecondLife!)
If you haven't been to Walt Disney World resorts, whether for a conference or vacation,there are two things you need to know:
Nothing is within a short "walking distance", you need to take a bus or boat to get anywhere
Despite this, you will be doing a lot of walking, so wear comfortable shoes!
Pulse encouraged everyone to blog and take pictures posted onto FlickR, here are a few from Sunday:
Lou and Elizabeth from [Syclo], an IBM Business Partner
Mike and Megha from [Birlasoft] show off their accreditation
Greg Tevis explains FilesX, recently acquired by IBM
Back in 1986, when I first started with IBM, my first job was working on a software product called Data Facility Hierarchical Storage Manager (DFHSM). This did "Information Lifecycle Management" (ILM) by moving data sets from one storage tier to another. (The phrase "Information Lifecycle Management" was coined by StorageTek in 1991, and later resurrected by EMC a few years ago. As is often typical, things that appear new to the distributed systems crowd, are often well-established concepts in the mainframe arena).
To help explain DFHSM and its sister product Data Facility Data Set Services (DFDSS), an enterprising sales rep in Los Angeles named C.D. Larsen made a video called "Re-arranging the sock drawer". He explained that sometimes you want the socks you wear the most on the top drawer, and socks that you only wear now and again in lower drawers. DFHSM can re-arrange your sock drawer based on policy-based automation, determining which ones you wear most often, and moving the others down the "hierarchy" accordingly.
To explain DFDSS, he pulled out an entire drawer of socks, and move it to another level. DFDSS was able to do volume-level backups and dumps to tape very quickly, since it did not process individual data sets, but rather the entire volume image as a whole. These two products are now DFSMShsm and DFSMSdss components of the DFSMS element of the z/OS operating system.
Mainframes use an interesting naming convention for its data sets. 44 characters, divided up into qualifiers that are 1-8 characters long, separated by periods. For example:
The first qualifier indicated it belonged to me, that it was for my Project A, that it was a testcase, and specifically TEST1 job control language. Arranging them in this order meant that I could easily find all the data needed for project A, but if I wanted to keep all the testcase data together, I might have put that as the second qualifer instead.
On Linux, UNIX and Windows, most people are more familiar with hierarchical file systems, so the same file might be stored as:
Same concept. You set up a taxonomy of they way you want to organize your data, so that related data can be grouped together and easier to manage. Whereas we used to tell customers that "Qualifiers are your friend", we now tell people "sub-directories are your friend". This is true when organizing the files on your laptop, in your Lotus Notes, and in Second Life.
Since starting Second Life last November, I have picked up all kinds of free things along the way, and now have thousands of objects in my "inventory". Basically, its like keeping things in your pocket, when you want it, you just take it out of your pocket, and *poof* it appears magically on the ground. I was having a hard time finding things in my inventory, so I decided to re-arrange with sub-folders. This is done in-world, and I found it best to do this away from other avatars asking "what are you doing?" which can get quite annoying. Find a remote island or the rooftop of some building when doing "house cleaning".
I've arranged my main folders as follows. These all appear on a single screen, and makes it easy to find exactly what I am looking for.
Lost and Found
In Second Life, you can make complete "outfits" which include your body shape, skin, eyes, hair, and clothes. However, saving away many outfits means duplicating a lot of items. Therefore, I separated them out. I keep body shape, skin, eyes and hair in the folder "Body Parts" and all of the clothing items under "Clothing". Under clothing, I separated everything out into the major categories:
I could have a separate folder for "socks", but I keep those in the "shoes" folder.
Registration for the "Meet the Storage Experts" event in Second Life will close this week fornext week's September 20 event. 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.
If you miss this one, we plan to have another one in November!
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.
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.
Continuing this week in Los Angeles, I went to some interesting sessions today at theSystems Technical Conference (STC08).
System Storage Productivity Center (SSPC) - Install and Configuration
Dominic Pruitt, an IBM IT specialist in our Advanced Technical Support team, presented SSPC and howto install and configure it. For those confused between the difference of TotalStorage ProductivityCenter and System Storage Productivity Center, the former is pure software that you install on aWindows or Linux server, and the latter is an IBM server, pre-installed with Windows 2003, TotalStorageProductivity Center software, TPCTOOL command line interface, DB2 Universal Database, the DS8000 Element Manager, SVC GUI and CIMOM, and [PuTTY] rLogin/SSH/Telnet terminal application software.
Of course, the problem with having a server pre-installed with a lot of software is that there is alwayssomeone that wants to customize it further. For those who just want to manage their DS8000 disk systems,for example, it is possible to uninstall the SVC GUI, CIMOM and PuTTY, and re-install them later when youchange your mind. As a general rule, it is not wise to mix CIMOMs on the same machine, as it might causeconflicts with TCP ports or Java level requirements, so if you want a different CIMOM than SVC, uninstallthe SVC CIMOM first. For those who have SVC, the SSPC replaces the SVC Master Console, so you can safelyturn off the SVC CIMOM on your existing SVC Master Consoles.
The base level is TotalStorage Productivity Center "Basic Edition", but you can upgrade the Productivity Centerfor Disk, Data and Fabric components with license keys. You can also run Productivity Center for Replication,but IBM recommends adding processor and memory to do this (IBM offers this as an orderable option).Whether you have the TotalStorage software or SSPC hardware, Productivity Center has a cool role-to-groups mapping feature.You can create user groups, either on the Windows server, the Active Directory, or other LDAP, and then map which roles should be assigned to users in each group.
Since Productivity Center manages a variety of different disk systems, it has made anattempt to standardize some terminology. The term "storage pool" refers to an extentpool on the DS8000, or a managed disk group on the SAN Volume Controller. Since the DS8000 can support both mainframe CKD volumes and LUNs for distributed systems, theterm "volume" refers to a CKD volume or LUN, and "disk" refers to the hard disk drive (HDD).
To help people learn Productivity Center, IBM offers single-day "remote workshops"that use Windows Remote Desktop to allow participants to install, customize and usethe software with no travel required.
IBM Integrated Approach to Archiving
Dan Marshall, IBM global program manager for storage and data services on our Global Technology Services team, presented IBM's corporate-wide integration to support archive across systems, software and services.One attendee asked me why I was there, given that "archive" is one of my areas of subject matter expertise that I present often at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center. I find it useful to watch others present the material, even material that I helped to develop, to see a different slant or spin on each talking point.
Archive is one area that brings all parts of IBM together: systems, software and services.Dan provided a look at archive from the services angle, providing an objective unbiasedview of the different software and systems available to solve specific challenges.
Encryption Key Manager (EKM) Design and Implementation
Jeff Ziehm, IBM tape technical sales specialist, presented IBM's EKM software, how it works in a tape environment, and how to deploy it in various environments. Since IBM is allabout being open and non-proprietary, the EKM software runs on Java on a variety ofIBM and non-IBM operating systems. IBM offers "keytool" command line interface (CLI) for the LTO4 and TS1120 tape systems, and "iKeyMan" graphical user interface (GUI) for theTS1120. Since it runs on Java, IBM Business Partners and technical support personneloften just [download and install EKM]onto their own laptops to learn how to use it.
Virtual Tape Update
We had three presenters at this one. First, Jeff Mulliken, formerly from Diligent and now a full IBM employee, presented the current ProtecTier softwarewith the HyperFactor technology, then Abbe Woodcock, IBM tape systems, compared Diligent with IBM's TS7520 and just-announced TS7530virtual tape libraries, and finally Randy Fleenor, IBM tape sales leader, presented IBM's strategy going forward in tape virtualization.
Let's start with Diligent. The ProtecTier software runs on any x86-64 server withat least four cores and the correct Emulex host bus adapter (HBA) cards. Using Red HatEnterprise Linux (RHEL) as a base, the ProtecTier software performs its deduplication entirely in-lineat an "ingest rate" of 400-450 MB/sec. This is all possible using 4GB memory-resident "dictionary table" that can map up to 1 PB of back end physical storage, which could represent as much as 25PB of "nominal" storage. Theserver is then point-to-point or SAN-attached to Fibre Channel disk systems.
As we learned yesterday from Toby Marek's session, there are four ways to performdeduplication:
full-file comparisons. Store only one copy of identical files.
fixed-chunk comparisons. Files are carved up into fixed-size chunks, and each chunkis compared or hashed to existing chunks to eliminate duplicates.
variable-chunk comparisons. Variable-length chunks are hashed or diffed to eliminate duplicate data.
content-aware comparisons. If you knew data was in Powerpoint format, for example,you could compare text, photos or charts against other existing Powerpoint files toeliminate duplicates.
IBM System Storage N series Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS) uses fixed-chunkmethod, and Diligent uses variable-chunk comparisons. Diligent does this using "dataprofiling". For example, let's say most of my photographs are pictures of people, buildings, landscapes, flowers and IT equipment. When I back these up, the Diligentserver "profiles" each, and determines if any existing data have a similar profilethat might have at least 50 percent similar content. Diligent than reads in the data that is mostly likely similar, does a byte-for-byte ["diff" comparison], and creates variable-lengthchunks that are either identical or unique to sections of the existing data. Theunique data is compressed with LZH and written to disk, and the sequential series of pointer segments representing the ingested file is written in a separate section on disk.
That Diligent can represent profiles for 1PB of data in as little as 4GB memory-residentdictionary is incredible. By comparison, 10TB data would require 10 million entries on a content-aware solution, and 1.25 billion entries for one based on hash-codes.
Abbe Woodcock presented the TS7530 tape system that IBM announced on Tuesday. It has some advantages over the current Diligent offering:
Hardware-based compression (TS7520 and Diligent use software-based compression)
1200 MB/sec (faster ingest rate than Diligent)
1.7PB of SATA disk (more disk capacity than Diligent)
Support for i5/OS (Diligent's emulation of ATL P3000 with DLT7000 tapes not supported on IBM's POWER systems running i5/OS)
Ability to attach a real tape library
NDMP backup to tape
tape "shredding" (virtual equivalent of degaussing a physical tape to erase all previously stored data)
Randy Fleenor wrapped up the session telling us IBM's strategy going forward with all of thevirtual tape systems technologies. Until then, IBM is working on "recipes" or "bundles", puttingDiligent software with specific models of IBM System x servers and IBM System Storage DS4000 disk systemsto avoid the "do-it-yourself" problems of its current software-only packaging.
Understanding Web 2.0 and Digital Archive Workloads
I got to present this in the last time slot of the day, just before everyone headed off to the [Westin Bonaventure hotel] for our big fancy barbecue dinner. Like my previous sessionon IBM Strategy, this session was more oriented toward a sales audience, but both garnereda huge turn-out and were well-received by the technical attendees.
This session was requested because these new applications and workloads are what is driving IBM to acquire small start-ups like XIV, deploy Scale-Out File Services (SOFS), and develop the innovative iDataPlex server rack.
The session was fun because it was a mix of explanation of the characteristics ofWeb 2.0 services; my own experience as a blogger and user of Google Docs, FlickR, Second Life andTivo; and an exploration in how database and digital archives will impact thegrowth in computing and storage requirements.
I'll expand on some of these topics in later blog posts.
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 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.
Avi Bar-Zeeb of RealityPrime has an interesting post aboutHow Google Earth [really] Works.Normally, people who are very knowledgeable in a topic have a hard time describing concepts in basic terms. Avi was one of the co-founders of Keyhole, the company that built the predecessor for Google Earth, and also worked with Linden Lab for its 3D rendering it its virtual world, so he certainly knows what he is talking about. While he sometimes drops down into techno-talk about patents, the post overall is a good read.
It is perhaps human nature to be curious on how things are put together and how they function, leading to the popularity of web sites like www.howstuffworks.com that cover a wide range of topics.
Many things can be used without understanding their internal inner workings. You can put on a pair of blue jeans without knowing how the cotton was made into denim fabric; lace up your favorite pair of running shoes without understanding the chemical make-up of the plastic that cushions your feet; or drink a glass of beer after your five mile run without knowing how alcohol is processed by your liver.
For technology, however, some people insist they need to know how it works in order for them to get the most use of it. When shopping for a car, for example, a guy might look under the hood, and ask questions about how the engine works, while his wife sits inside the vehicle, counting cup holders and making sure the radio has all the right buttons.
Not all technology suffers from need-to-know-itis. For example, the Apple iPod music player and the Canon PowerShot digital camera, are both just disk systems that read and write data, with knobs and dials on one end, and ports for connectivity on the other. Everyone just asks how to use their controls, and might read the manual to understand how to connect the cables. Few people who use these devices ask how they work before they buy them.
Other disk systems, the kind designed for data centers for the medium and large enterprise, apparently aren't there yet. Storage admins who might happily own both an iPod player and a PowerShot camera, insist they need to know how the technologies inside various storage offerings work. Is this just curiosity talking? Or are there some tasks like configuration, tuning, and support that just can't be done without this knowledge? Does knowing the inner workings somehow make the job more enjoyable, easier, or performed with less stress?
I'm curious what you think, send me a comment on this.