Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect 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.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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This week I am in Orlando, Florida for the IBM Edge conference. Thursday evening after all the other sessions, we had a Free-for-All, a Q&A panel across all storage topics, moderated by Scott Drummond. The conference officially ends at noon tomorrow, but for many, this is the last session, as people fly out Friday morning. Here are the questions and the panel responses during the session.
When will IBM unify their storage management between Mainframe z/OS and the distributed systems platforms?
IBM offers a Change and Configuration Management Data Base (CCMDB) for this purpose with appropriate collectors from z/OS and distributed systems, but hasn't sold well.
When will IBM devices have RESTful interfaces?
Both IBM Systems Director and IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC) offer RESTful APIs. IBM Systems Director can manage z/VM and Linux on System z, as well as Power Systems and x86 based distributed systems. Since October 2008, IBM's Project Zero introduced RESTful interfaces to PHP and Groovy software running on WebSphere sMash environments. We have not heard much about this since 2008.
Will IBM TPC support NPIV on Power Systems?
TPC 5.1 has toleration support for this, showing the first port connection discovered, but not all connections, and we expect to retrofit this toleration to TPC 4.2.2 Fixpack 2. Hopefully, we will have full support in a future release.
We would like TPC for Replication to run on Linux for System z. We do not run z/OS at the disaster recovery site location.
Submit an IBM Request for Enhancement [RFE] for this. We have TPC for Replication on z/OS, as well as the distributed systems version that runs on Windows, Linux and AIX.
We have enhancements we would like to see for XIV and SONAS also, can we use the RFE process for this also?
Yes, submit the requirements for our review.
We heard the Statement of Direction that there would be storage integrated into the PureSystems. What exactly does that mean?
The PureSystems family of expert-integrated systems is based on a new chassis that has a front part, a midplane, and a back-part. All IBM System Storage products that support x86 and Power Systems can work with PureSystems. However, IBM does not yet offer storage that fits in the front part of the PureFlex chassis, but the Statement of Direction indicates that we intend to offer that option. Until then, the IBM Storwize V7000 is the storage of choice that can be put into the PureSystems rack, but outside the individual chasses.
We see some features like Real-Time Compression being put into the SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and other features put into the back-end devices. How are we supposed to make sense of this?
IBM's new pilot program, the SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center, to bring these all together. In general, we have design teams of system architects that determine which features go in which products, and prioritize accordingly.
We heard the IBM Executives during the opening session indicate that IBM's strategy involves supporting Big Data, but I haven't seen any storage that supports native Hadoop interfaces. Did I miss something?
First, I want to emphasize that Big Data is more than just MapReduce workloads. IBM offers Streams and BigInsights software to handle text, as well as Business Intelligence and Data Warehouse solutions for structured data. IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) has a Shared-Nothing-Cluster (SNC) mode with Hadoop interfaces that runs twice as fast as Hadoop's native HDFS file system. The storage products we recommend for Big Data are the SONAS and the DCS3700 disk systems, as both are optimized for the sequential workloads Big Data represents.
Everytime we upgrade our SVC, we review the list for SDDPCM multi-pathing and see that we need to upgrade our back-end DS8000 microcode up to recommended levels. Can we get a list of combinations that work from other customers?
The advantage of storage hypervisors like SVC is that we can separate the multi-pathing driver from the back-end managed disk systems. You only need the SDDPCM to support the SVC, not the back-end devices. For the most part, SVC has not dropped support for any level of previously supported OS or multi-pathing software.
On SVC, when we migrate volumes (vDisks) from one storage pool to another, we would like to throttle this process during FlashCopy.
Yes, we had several requests like this, which is why we now recommend using Volume Mirorring to perform migrations. In fact the GUI wizard uses Volume Mirroring by default when migrations are performed. As for throttling, IBM has implemented "I/O Priority Manager" that offers Quality of Service classes for DS8000 and XIV Gen3, and might consider porting this to other products in our portfolio.
Sizing systems is an art. I just need to know if the DS8000 is running hot. Can we have the equivalent of "red lines" for our disk systems similar to automobile engines?
Storage Optimizer was added to TPC 4.2 to help in this area, identifying heat-maps for IBM DS8000, DS6000, DS5000, DS4000, SVC and Storwize V7000. We recommend you look at the performance violation reports.
How can we evaluate the characteristics of our workloads?
Yes, TPC can do this.
When we are replacing non-IBM storage with IBM, we don't have good tools to evaluate the non-IBM equipment. What is IBM doing for this?
IBM's Disk Magic modeling tool can take inputs from a variety of sources, including iostat from the servers themselves. You can also install a 90-day trial of TPC to help with this.
We really like EMC's "Grab" program, does IBM have one also?
Updating the Host Attachment Kit (HAK) for AIX is quite painful for the SVC. We prefer the method employed for the XIV.
Thanks for the feedback.
For SVC, we need to correlate disk with VMware and VIOS. Can we get vSCSI information on VIOS?
TPC 5.1 has this support, and we believe it has been retrofitted to TPC 4.2.2 Fixpack 2, coming out this month.
Currently, with SVC, when volumes are part of a Global Mirror (GM) session, we need to cancel GM, expand the source volume, expand the target volume, then restart GM. We would like this to be fully automated and non-disruptive.
Sounds like a great requirement to submit for the RFE process.
Can we get an RSS Feed for the RFE community.
Yes, you can subscribe to it. You can also set up "Watch Lists".
Thanks to all of the IBM experts on the panel for their participation at this event!
Earlier this year, I wrote a Web article titled [Data Footprint Reduction] which covered data deduplication and compression, and was asked to present this at IBM Edge. I have expanded it to include:
Space-Efficient Point-in-Time copies
After I presented the basic concepts, Sanjay Bhikot, a Unix and Storage admin at RICOH, presented his real-world experiences with data deduplication using the IBM ProtecTIER and real-time compression Beta experience using the SAN Volume Controller (SVC).
IBM Active Cloud Engine Implementation on IBM SONAS 1.3 and IBM Storwize V7000 Unified
John Sing (IBM) presented the latest enhancements in the v1.3.2 release of SONAS and Storwize V7000 Unified.
Introducing VMware vSphere Storage Features
Fellow blogger Stephen Foskett presented this session on VMware's storage features. This included VMware APIs for Array Integration (VAAI), VMware Array Storage Awareness (VASA), vCenter plug-ins, and a new concept he called "vVol" which de-multiplexes the "I/O Blender" that server hypervisors do by tagging individual requests to individual OS guests to provide added benefit. IBM is a leading reseller of VMware, so it makes sense that most of our storage meets all of Steve's requirements for recommendation.
IBM's Storage Strategy in the Smarter Computing Era
Last year, I presented this on the fourth day of the conference, and feedback we received from attendees was that this should have been presented sooner in the week, as it provides great context for the more detailed product presentations.
To address this concern, the IBM executives presented IBM strategy on Monday's keynote session, but allowed me to present this on Wednesday for several reasons:
You may have missed the keynote session. For example, you may not have arrived in time to hear the executives speak due to weather or mechanical problems causing travel delays.
You may have attended the keynote session, but want to hear it again. Maybe you were a bit hung-over, or just may have been overwhelmed with the size and scope of this event. I have read for strategic topics, audiences may have to hear the message five to seven times before they truly appreciate and understand it.
You may want to ask questions, and explore the implications in more detail. While keynote sessions can reach a broader audience, the communication is very much uni-directional. With break-out sessions with a few hundred people, the venue is more intimate and can afford opportunties for information exchange.
The title of this session rolls off the tongue nicely, much like "James and the Giant Peach", "Harold and the Purple Crayon", or "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".
When people say they are interested in "Cloud Storage", what exactly do they mean. After discussions with hundreds of clients, IBM has worked out a "taxonomy" that identifies four distinct types of storage:
In this session, I presented how IBM SONAS addresses all four of these categories, as well as other IBM storage products that can address specific categories in the taxonomy.
In the evening, the attendees at IBM Edge joined the attendees from Innovate2012 (focused on IBM Rational products) at SeaWorld, with BBQ dinner, rides, Shamu the whale show, and a concert featuring Foreigner!
Well it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means... IBM announcements! Yesterday, at the IBM Edge conference here in Orlando, Florida, IBM announced its new apporach to storage, and a whole bunch of storage products, enhancements, and services. I will focus on some key ones here, and save the rest for next week.
IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) v6.4
The SVC is IBM's enterprise-class storage hypervisor. The latest software release, v6.4, can be installed on any SVC hardware, from the 2145-8F2 introduced back in 2005, to newer models like the 2145-CG8. Here are the key features:
Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) -- This is complete end-to-end support. For SVC units with 10GbE ports, these ports can be now be used for FCoE. This allows hosts to attach to SVC via FCoE, allows SVC node-to-node communication for clustering, and allows SVC to communicate to back-end devices via FCoE.
Real-Time Compression -- IBM ported over the patent Random Access Compression Engine (RACE) from the Real-Time Compression Appliances to SVC v6.4. This allows primary data, accessed via block-based protocols, to be compressed up to 80 percent. This feature is an extra priced feature by TB.
Non-Disruptive Volume move between I/O Groups -- If you don't already have SVC, you don't need to worry about this. For existing SVC customers, this allows volumes to be associated with two or more I/O groups, and that you can add or remove I/O groups non-disruptively. For example, if you want to move a volume from IOG1 to IOG2, then you add IOG2 to the list of I/O groups for the volume, let the multi-pathing software discover the additional paths, the remove IOG1, which then marks the previous IOG1 paths inactive. All this can be done while applications read and write data.
Dedicate FCP ports for Replication -- If you activate the two 10GbE Ethernet ports for FCoE, you can free up two FCP ports that you can dedicate for long-distance Metro Mirror or Global Mirror.
If you have SVC today, but are running an old release like v4.3 or v5.1, I recommennd you upgrade up to at least v6.2.05 release now. This release has been out for a year and is very stable, and serves as a great platform for a later upgrade to SVC v6.4.
IBM Storwize V7000 v6.4
The Storwize V7000 is IBM's midrange storage hypervisor. The latest software release, v6.4, can be installed on existing block-only Storwize V7000 units in the field. The Storwize V7000 v6.4 gets all the features listed above, as well as the following:
Four-way clustering -- Previously, you could cluster two Storwize V7000 controller enclosures together (4 canisters total). To cluster three or four controllers required an RPQ. Now, IBM supports up to four Storwize V7000 controller enclosures (8 canisters) without an RPQ.
Direct Fibre Channel attach -- A lot of people are using Storwize V7000 inside single-rack configurations, so it makes sense not to require a SAN switch for just a few Windows, Linux or VMware servers. An RPQ is now available to allow this to happen.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC) v5.1
TPC is already ranked one of the best Storage Infrastructure Management software in the market, and this release will just solidify its lead. Key features include:
Upward integration to higher level management systems
A new, intuitive, easy-to-use web-based GUI inspired by the XIV GUI
Integration of COGNOS to be able to generate and customize reports
Support for SONAS systems
There are several presentations on TPC this week that will go into more detail. Check out the [TPC Facebook page].
My latest book Inside System Storage: Volume IV is now available!
Yes, can you believe it? I have published my fourth volume in my "Inside System Storage" series! It is available in three formats:
Hardcover with dust jacket
eBook (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
You can order this, and all my other books, in all formats, directly from my [Author Spotlight] page. The paperback will also be available soon from other online booksellers, search for ISBN 978-1-105-72213-4.
IBM DS3500 Express
The DS3500 is our entry-level block-based device, designed specifically for random I/O workloads. This includes databases, email repositories, traditional business applications, and on-line transactional workloads. Here are the new features:
Dynamic Disk Pooling, similar to what XIV does to reduce disk rebuild times, but using a RAID-6 like approach per chunk of data.
Thin Provisioning using Dynamic Disk Pooling
Asynchronous Logical Unit Access (ALUA) failover
Enhanced FlashCopy, improved scalability, consistency groups and rollback support
VMware API for Array Integration (VAAI) support. This includes Write Same, Extended Copy, and Atomic Test & Set.
The DS3500 replaces the previous models of DS3200, DS3300 and DS3400 models.
The DCS3700 is our entry-level/midrange block-based device, replacing the DCS9900 model, designed specifically for sequential I/O workloads. This includes Big Data analytics, Hadoop, High Performance Computing (HPC), video surveillance, and television broadcasting. It holds 60 drives in a 4U controller enclosure.
Well, it's Wednesday, and you know what that means... IBM Announcements!
(Actually most IBM announcements are on Tuesdays, but IBM gave me extra time to recover from my trip to Europe!)
Today, IBM announced [IBM PureSystems], a new family of expert-integrated systems that combine storage, servers, networking, and software, based on IBM's decades of experience in the IT industry. You can register for the [Launch Event] today (April 11) at 2pm EDT, and download the companion "Integrated Expertise" event app for Apple, Android or Blackberry smartphones.
(If you are thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, hasn't this been done before?" you are not alone. Yes, IBM introduced the System/360 back in 1964, and the AS/400 back in 1988, so today's announcement is on scheduled for this 24-year cycle. Based on IBM's past success in this area, others have followed, most recently, Oracle, HP and Cisco.)
Initially, there are two offerings:
IBM PureFlex™ System
IBM PureFlex is like IaaS-in-a-box, allowing you to manage the system as a pool of virtual resources. It can be used for private cloud deployments, hybrid cloud deployments, or by service providers to offer public cloud solutions. IBM drinks its own champagne, and will have no problem integrating these into its [IBM SmartCloud] offerings.
To simplify ordering, the IBM PureFlex comes in three tee-shirt sizes: Express, Standard and Enterprise.
IBM PureFlex is based on a 10U-high, 19-inch wide, standard rack-mountable chassis that holds 14 bays, organized in a 7 by 2 matrix. Unlike BladeCenter where blades are inserted vertically, the IBM PureFlex nodes are horizontal. Some of the nodes take up a single bay (half-wide), but a few are full-wide, take up two bays, the full 19-inch width of the chassis. Compute and storage snap in the front, while power supplies, fans, and networking snap in the back. You can fit up to four chassis in a standard 42U rack.
Unlike competitive offerings, IBM does not limit you to x86 architectures. Both x86 and POWER-based compute nodes can be mixed into a single chassis. Out of the box, the IBM PureFlex supports four operating systems (AIX, IBM i, Linux and Windows), four server hypervisors (Hyper-V, Linux KVM, PowerVM, and VMware), and two storage hypervisors (SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000).
There are a variety of storage options for this. IBM will offer SSD and HDD inside the compute nodes themselves, direct-attached storage nodes, and an integrated version of the Storwize V7000 disk system. Of course, every IBM System Storage product is supported as external storage. Since Storwize V7000 and SAN Volume Controller support external virtualization, many non-IBM devices will be supported automatically as well.
Networking is also optimized, with options for 10Gb and 40Gb Ethernet/FCoE, 40Gb and 56Gb Infiniband, 8Gbps and 16Gbps Fibre Channel. Much of the networking traffic can be handled within the chassis, to minimize traffic on external switches and directors.
For management, IBM offers the Flex System Manager, that allows you to manage all the resources from a single pane of glass. The goal is to greatly simplify the IT lifecycle experience of procurement, installation, deployment and maintenance.
IBM PureApplication™ System
IBM PureApplication is like PaaS-in-a-box. Based on the IBM PureFlex infrastructure, the IBM PureApplication adds additional software layers focused on transactional web, business logic, and database workloads. Initially, it will offer two platforms: Linux platform based on x86 processors, Linux KVM and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL); and a UNIX platform based on POWER7 processors, PowerVM and AIX operating system. It will be offered in four tee-shirt sizes (small, medium, large and extra large).
In addition to having IBM's middleware like DB2 and WebSphere optimized for this platform, over 600 companies will announce this week that they will support and participate in the IBM PureSystems ecosystem as well. Already, there are 150 "Patterns of Expertise" ready to deploy from IBM PureSystem Centre, a kind of a "data center app store", borrowing an idea used today with smartphones.
By packaging applications in this manner, workloads can easily shift between private, hybrid and public clouds.
If you are unhappy with the inflexibility of your VCE Vblock, HP Integrity, or Oracle ExaLogic, talk to your local IBM Business Partner or Sales Representative. We might be able to buy your boat anchor off your hands, as part of an IBM PureSystems sale, with an attractive IBM Global Financing plan.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes two movies come out that seem eerily similar to each other, released by different studios within months or weeks of each other? My sister used to review film scripts for a living, she would read ten of them and have to pick her top three favorites, and tells me that scripts for nearly identical concepts came all the time. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
1994: [Wyatt Earp] and [Tombstone] were Westerns recounting the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Tombstone, Arizona is near Tucson, and the gunfight is recreated fairly often for tourists.
1998: [Armageddon] and [Deep Impact] were a pair of disaster movies dealing with a large rock heading to destroy all life on earth. I was in Mazatlan, Mexico to see the latter, dubbed in Spanish as "Impacto Profundo".
1998: [A Bug's Life] and [Antz] were computer-animated tales of the struggle of one individual ant in an ant colony.
2000: [Mission to Mars] and [Red Planet] were sci-fi pics exploring what a manned mission to our neighboring planet might entail.
This is different than copy-cat movies that are re-made or re-imagined many years later based on the previous successes of an original. Ever since my blog post [VPLEX: EMC's Latest Wheel is Round] in 2010 comparing EMC's copy-cat product that came our seven years after IBM's SAN Volume Controller (SVC), I've noticed EMC doesn't talk about VPLEX that much anymore.
This week, IBM announced [XIV Gen3 Solid-State Drive support] and our friends over at EMC announced [VFCache SSD-based PCIe cards]. Neither of these should be a surprise to anyone who follows the IT industry, as IBM had announced its XIV Gen3 as "SSD-Ready" last year specifically for this purpose, and EMC has been touting its "Project Lightning" since last May.
Fellow blogger Chuck Hollis from EMC has a blog post [VFCache means Very Fast Cache indeed] that provides additional detail. Chuck claims the VFCache is faster than popular [Fusion-IO PCIe cards] available for IBM servers. I haven't seen the performance spec sheets, but typically SSD is four to five times slower than the DRAM cache used in the XIV Gen3. The VFCache's SSD is probably similar in performance to the SSD supported in the IBM XIV Gen3, DS8000, DS5000, SVC, N series, and Storwize V7000 disk systems.
Nonetheless, I've been asked my opinions on the comparison between these two announcements, as they both deal with improving application performance through the use of Solid-State Drives as an added layer of read cache.
(FTC Disclosure: I am both a full-time employee and stockholder of the IBM Corporation. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission may consider this blog post as a paid celebrity endorsement of IBM servers and storage systems. This blog post is based on my interpretation and opinions of publicly-available information, as I have no hands-on access to any of these third-party PCIe cards. I have no financial interest in EMC, Fusion-IO, Texas Memory Systems, or any other third party vendor of PCIe cards designed to fit inside IBM servers, and I have not been paid by anyone to mention their name, brands or products on this blog post.)
The solutions are different in that IBM XIV Gen3 the SSD is "storage-side" in the external storage device, and EMC VFCache is "server-side" as a PCI Express [PCIe] card. Aside from that, both implement SSD as an additional read cache layer in front of spinning disk to boost performance. Neither is an industry first, as IBM has offered server-side SSD since 2007, and IBM and EMC have offered storage-side SSD in many of their other external storage devices. The use of SSD as read cache has already been available in IBM N series using [Performance Accelerator Module (PAM)] cards.
IBM has offered cooperative caching synergy between its servers and its storage arrays for some time now. The predecessor to today's POWER7-based were the iSeries i5 servers that used PCI-X IOP cards with cache to connect i5/OS applications to IBM's external disk and tape systems. To compete in this space, EMC created their own PCI-X cards to attach their own disk systems. In 2006, IBM did the right thing for our clients and fostered competition by entering in a [Landmark agreement] with EMC to [license the i5 interfaces]. Today, VIOS on IBM POWER systems allows a much broader choice of disk options for IBM i clients, including the IBM SVC, Storwize V7000 and XIV storage systems.
Can a little SSD really help performance? Yes! An IBM client running a [DB2 Universal Database] cluster across eight System x servers was able to replace an 800-drive EMC Symmetrix by putting eight SSD Fusion-IO cards in each server, for a total of 64 Solid-State drives, saving money and improving performance. DB2 has the Data Partitioning Feature that has multi-system DB2 configurations using a Grid-like architecture similar to how XIV is designed. Most IBM System x and BladeCenter servers support internal SSD storage options, and many offer PCIe slots for third-party SSD cards. Sadly, you can't do this with a VFCache card, since you can have only one VFCache card in each server, the data is unprotected, and only for ephemeral data like transaction logs or other temporary data. With multiple Fusion-IO cards in an IBM server, you can configure a RAID rank across the SSD, and use it for persistent storage like DB2 databases.
Here then is my side-by-side comparison:
IBM XIV Gen3 SSD Caching
Selected x86-based models of Cisco UCS, Dell PowerEdge, HP ProLiant DL, and IBM xSeries and System x servers
All of these, plus any other blade or rack-optimized server currently supported by XIV Gen3, including Oracle SPARC, HP Titanium, IBM POWER systems, and even IBM System z mainframes running Linux
Operating System support
Linux RHEL 5.6 and 5.7, VMware vSphere 4.1 and 5.0, and Windows 2008 x64 and R2.
All of these, plus all the other operating systems supported by XIV Gen3, including AIX, IBM i, Solaris, HP-UX, and Mac OS X
FCP and iSCSI
Vendor-supplied driver required on the server
Yes, the VFCache driver must be installed to use this feature.
No, IBM XIV Gen3 uses native OS-based multi-pathing drivers.
External disk storage systems required
None, it appears the VFCache has no direct interaction with the back-end disk array, so in theory the benefits are the same whether you use this VFCache card in front of EMC storage or IBM storage
XIV Gen3 is required, as the SSD slots are not available on older models of IBM XIV.
Shared disk support
No, VFCache has to be disabled and removed for vMotion to take place.
Yes! XIV Gen3 SSD caching shared disk supports VMware vMotion and Live Partition Mobility.
Support for multiple servers
An advantage of the XIV Gen3 SSD caching approach is that the cache can be dynamically allocated to the busiest data from any server or servers.
Support for active/active server clusters
Aware of changes made to back-end disk
No, it appears the VFCache has no direct interaction with the back-end disk array, so any changes to the data on the box itself are not communicated back to the VFCache card itself to invalidate the cache contents.
None identified. However, VFCache only caches blocks 64KB or smaller, so any sequential processing with larger blocks will bypass the VFCache.
Yes! XIV algorithms detect sequential access and avoid polluting the SSD with these blocks of data.
Number of SSD supported
One, which seems odd as IBM supports multiple Fusion-IO cards for its servers. However, this is not really a single point of failure (SPOF) as an application experiencing a VFCache failure merely drops down to external disk array speed, no data is lost since it is only read cache.
6 to 15 (one per XIV module) for high availability.
Pin data in SSD cache
Yes, using split-card mode, you can designate a portion of the 300GB to serve as Direct-attached storage (DAS). All data written to the DAS portion will be kept in SSD. However, since only one card is supported per server and the data is unprotected, this should only be used for ephemeral data like logs and temp files.
No, there is no option to designate an XIV Gen3 volume to be SSD-only. Consider using Fusion-IO PCIe card as a DAS alternative, or another IBM storage system for that requirement.
Pre-sales Estimating tools
Yes! CDF and Disk Magic tools are available to help cost-justify the purchase of SSD based on workload performance analysis.
IBM has the advantage that it designs and manufactures both servers and storage, and can design optimal solutions for our clients in that regard.