The terms "information" and "data" are often used interchangeably in regular usage, but for the storageindustry, there are significant differences between the two, as different as "fact" from "meaning".
For example, if you are walking down the street, and see a pole with red and white stripes, the data of red and white stripes may not have much meaning, unless you recognize the information is that you are in front of a barber shop.I thought of this when someone pointed me to theStrip Generator Tool website, which can helpyou generate various stripes for use on the tiled background of web pages. (Or if you aredesigning neckties for your Second Life avatar).
Many national flags are based on simple stripes of different colors.For example, look at the national flags of France, Russia, and the Netherlands. These consist of a red, white, and blue stripe, justin different sequence and orientation.Again, the data of these colors, the width of their lines, and the way they are placed on the flag are all data, but the information they convey is significantly more than that.One person might walk right by the flag, not knowing which country it belongs to, while anotherperson might get emotional memories of their homeland.
For those of us in the storage industry, data is just binary 1's and 0's on disk and tape media, and canbe treated like packages at the post office in brown wrapping paper. Just as post office employees don't have to know the contents to ship them to the final destination, servers and storage devices don't need to knowthe informational content of the data that they process and store.
Converting information to data is easy. Let's take an example of taking a digital photo. The photo could be a picture of you and your spouseon your last vacation trip, but you would never know that from just looking at a series of 1's and 0's. For this reason, you create photo albums, you write captions below indicating where and when the photowas taken. This additional "context" is often called "metadata" or just simply "indexing".
Both the information captured (the photo in this case) and its metadata (the caption), can be storedas 1's and 0's on storage media. These bits can be compressed, encrypted, or represented in a variety of formats.
Information is copied from one data file to another. In the traditional sense, one piece of informationcould exist in the primary production copy, as well as multiple archive or backup copies. One piece ofinformation, stored on multiple copies of data. In a sense, this is similar to genetic information storedon each human being (data copy). Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene, reminds us that genes outlive individual humans. In storage, we remind people that data outlivesthe media it is initally written to, and the information outlives the initial data copy stored.
Converting data back to information is not always as simple.Not all sequences of 1's and 0's are obvious what they represent. To display a digital photo, you need to know the format the photo is in, and have an appropriate application that can display it back to something a human person can recognize. If the bits were compressed, the application needs to handlethat, or you need to de-compress the data before handing it to the application. For encrypted data,you need to have the decryption key. The process of converting a single file of data back to information is called "rendering".
One of the big problems with keeping information for long periods of time, isthat you may not have the equipment, decryption key, or applications needed to render the data back to usable information. You've kept the data, but you can't make any sense of it, as if it went through an episode of Will it Blend?
A good example is how the current version of Microsoft Office application is unable to interpret andrender data documents that were stored in WORD 1.0 format. IBM and others have developed "rendering tools" that can help decipher the bits, and bring back the information. To help address this challenge, the new Microsoft Office 2007 haschosen the OOXML format, but will continue to support some of the older legacy formats. IBM and the rest of the world are focused instead on Open Document Format (ODF) open standard. Those of usstill using older versions of Microsoft Office might need the Office 2007 Compatibility Pack.
Another way to get information from data is "data mining", an important part of "business intelligence". Here you are gleaning information notfrom individual details, but from patterns in the data, averages, statistics, totals, that havebroader meaning than individual transactions or events.
For many applications, DLM is just fine. Let's consider e-mail, for example. For most employees,deleting e-mails larger than 1 MB, after 90 days, regardless of content, is probably a reasonable DLM policy. All data is treated the same, based purely on the size and date markings on the outer brown wrapper.
For more sensitive content, DLM is not enough. The e-mails that are to or from the president of thecompany, or between top executives, or that contain certain pieces of information relevant for lawsuitsor other investigations, may not be treatedthe same as other e-mails. In this case, you need ILM technologies, managing based on the informational content of the data, and not just the size and date last referenced.
Of course, IBM supports both, and can help you decide the right solution for each workload.
technorati tags: IBM, barber pole, stripe generator, International space station, France, Russia, Netherlands, digital photography, Richard Dawkins, blender, rendering tools, metadata, encryption, OOXML, ODF, Open Document Format, Microsoft, Office, Word, ILM, information, lifecycle, management, data, DLM, e-mail, archive, context, Hu+Yoshida
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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?
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.
We live in interesting times!
Today was our annual "State of the Site" meeting for the IBM Tucson site. This facility was completed in 1978, and I started my career here in 1986.
Various employees and teams were recognized for the contributions and dedication. For example:
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!
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.
Marana is most famous for its Gallery Golf Club on Dove Mountain that is the new home of the World Golf Cham His decision was based on conversations he had with other IT directors of other towns and cities, and this November 2006 article in Network World. He held up the copy of his magazine. Tony was very delighted with IBM's solution-oriented approach, rather than just selling more boxes of hardware. He found IBM easy to do business with, and committed to his success. technorati tags: IBM, Tucson, Tom Beglin, Jack Arnold, Michael Scott, Second Life, Terri Mitchell, CeBIT, design, awards, NEBS, disk, tape, NAS, Tony Casella, Marana, Arizona, Accenture, Golf, Championship, Network World, HP
His decision was based on conversations he had with other IT directors of other towns and cities, and this November 2006 article in Network World. He held up the copy of his magazine.
Tony was very delighted with IBM's solution-oriented approach, rather than just selling more boxes of hardware. He found IBM easy to do business with, and committed to his success.
technorati tags: IBM, Tucson, Tom Beglin, Jack Arnold, Michael Scott, Second Life, Terri Mitchell, CeBIT, design, awards, NEBS, disk, tape, NAS, Tony Casella, Marana, Arizona, Accenture, Golf, Championship, Network World, HP
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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.
The seven videos were shown in Second Life, and are now available on YouTube for those who missed them.
Robert Von Oech on CreativeThink remembers Ernest Gallo, who died last week at 97 years old.
"Do you know what I do?" Mr. Mondavi recalls Mr. Gallo asked him when they first met.
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.
John Windsor on YouBlog,Marina Krakovsky inStanford Magazine,and Guy Kawasaki, all discuss the "Effort Effect" and Carol Dweck's latest book "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success". I haven't read the book yet myself, but the reviews are interesting. The IT industry is evolving fast, and embracing new technologies, new concepts, and new ideas is necessary for success.
Seth Godin takes this one step further, arguing there are two kinds of people in this world: Thrill Seekers and Fear Avoiders. Forbes just published its latest list of billionaires. The front quote on Forbes' website says it all...
"Knowledge is the antidote to fear."
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.
technorati tags: Robert Von Oech, CreativeThink, Ernest Gallo, Mondavi, Robert Smith, National Public Radio, NPR, John+McCain, Arizona, IBM, Secondlife, John Windsor, YouBlog, Mirina Krakovsky, Standford, Guy Kawasaki, Effort Effect, mindset, success, Seth Godin, thrill seekers, fear avoiders, Forbes, billionaires, working, Chicago, Wicked, St Patricks Day[Read More]