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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I always try to catch a session from Jim Blue, who works in our "SAN Central" center of competency team. This session was a long list of useful hints and tips, based on his many years of experience helping clients.
SAN Zoning works by inclusion, limiting the impact of failing devices. The best approach is to zone by individual initiator port. The default policy for your SAN zoning should be "deny".
Ports should be named to identify who, what, where and how.
While many people know not to mix both disk and tape devices on the same HBA, Jim also recommends not mixing dissimilar disks, test and production, FCP and FICON.
The sweet spot is FOUR paths. Too many paths can impact performance.
When making changes to redundant fabrics, make changes to the first fabric, then allow sufficient time before making the same changes to the other fabric.
Use software tools like Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (Standard Edition) to validate all changes to your SAN fabric.
Do not mix 62.5 and 50.0 micron technology.
Use port caps to disable inactive ports. In one amusing anecdote, he mention that an uncovered port was hit by sunlight every day, sending error messages that took a while to figure out.
Save your SAN configuration to non-SAN storage for backup
Consider firmware about two months old to be stable
Rule of thumb for estimating IOPS: 75-100 IOPS per 7200 RPM drive, 120-150 IOPS per 10K RPM drive, and 150-200 IOPS per 15K RPM drive.
Decide whether your shop is just-in-time or just-in-case provisioning. Just-in-time gets additional capacity on demand as needed, and just-in-case over-provisions to avoid scrambling last minute.
Avoid oversubscribing your inter-switch links (ISL). Aim for around 7:1 to 10:1 ratio.
Don't go cheap on bandwidth between sites for long-distance replication
Next Generation Network Fabrics - Strategy and Innovations
Mike Easterly, IBM Director of Global Field Marketing, presented IBM System Networking strategy, in light of IBM's recent acquisition of Blade Network Technologies (BNT). BNT is used in 350 of the Fortune 500 companies, and is ranked #2 behind Cisco in sales of non-core Ethernet switches (based on number of units sold).
Based on a recent survey, companies are upgrading their Ethernet networks for a variety of reasons:
56 percent for Live Partition Mobility and VMware Vmotion
45 percent for integrated compute stacks, like IBM CloudBurst
43 percent for private, public and hybrid cloud computing deployments
40 percent for network convergences
Many companies adopt a three-level approach, with core directors, distribution switches, and then access switches at the edge that connect servers and storage devices. IBM's BNT allows you to flatten the network to lower latency by collapsing the access and distribution levels into one.
IBM's strategy is to focus on BNT for the access/distribution level, and to continue its strategic partnerships for the core level.
IBM BNT provides better price/performance and lower energy consumption. To help with hot-aisle/cold-aisle rack deployments, IBM BNT provides both F and R models. F models have ports on the front, and R models have ports in the rear.
IBM BNT supports virtual fabric and HW-offload iSCSI traffic, and future-enabled for FCoE. Support for TRILL (transparent interconnect of lots of links) and OpenFlow will be implemented through software updates to the switches.
While Cisco Nexus 1000v is focused on VMware Enterprise Plus, IBM BNT's VMready works with VMware, Hyper-V, Linux KVM, XEN, OracleVM, and PowerVM. This allows single pane of management of VMready and ESX vSwitches.
In preparation for Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE), IBM BNT will provide full 40GbE support sometime next year, and offer switches that support 100GbE uplinks. IBM offers extended length cables, including passive SFP+ DAC at 8.5 meters, and 10Gbase-T Cat7 cables up to 100 meters.
Inter-datacenter Workload Mobility with VMware vSphere and SAN Volume Controller (SVC)
This session was co-presented between Bill Wiegand, IBM Advanced Technical Services, and Rawley Burbridge, IBM VMware and midrange storage consultant. IBM is the leader in storage virtualization product (SVC), and is the leading reseller of VMware.
Like MetroCluster on IBM N series, or EMC's VPLEX Metro, the IBM SAN Volume Controller can support a stretched cluster across distance that allows virtual machines to move seamlessly from one datacenter to another. This is a feature IBM introduced with SVC 5.1 back in 2009. This can be used for PowerVM Live Partition Mobility, VMware vMotion, and Hyper-V Quick Migration.
SVC stretched cluster can help with both Disaster Avoidance and Disaster Recovery. For Disaster Avoidance, in anticipation of an outage, VMs can be moved to the secondary datacenter. For Disaster Recover, additional automation, such as VMware High Availability (HA) is needed to restart the VMs at the secondary datacenter.
IBM stretched cluster is further improved with a feature called Volume Mirroring (formerly vDisk Mirroring) which creates two physical copies of one logical volume. To the VMware ESX hosts, there is only one volume, regardless of which datacenter it is in. The two physical copies can be on any kind of managed disk, as there is no requirement or dependency of copy services on the back-end storage arrays.
Another recent improvement is the idea of spreading the three quorum disks to three different locations or "failure domains". One in each data center, and a third one in a separate building, somewhere in between the other two, perhaps.
Of course, there are regional disasters that could affect both datacenters. For this reason, SVC stretched cluster volumes can be replicated to a third location up to 8000 km away. This can be done with any back-end disk arrays, as again there is not requirement for copy services from the managed devices. SVC takes care of it all.
Networking is going to be very important for a variety of transformational projects going forward in the next five years.
I gotten several emails expressing worry that I have fallen off the face of th earth. The last two weeks have been educational and eye-opening for me. I can't provide details in my blog, so I will just say that it involved government agencies that IBM refers to as "dark accounts", and that I am now back safely in the USA. Between adjusting to time zone differences, ridiculously long hours, and restricted access to the internet, I was unable to blog lately.
Instead, I will resume my coverage of the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011]. The "Solutions Expo" runs Monday evening through Wednesday lunch. This is a chance for people to explore all the solutions that are part of IBM's large "eco-system" for IBM System storage and System x products. There were several sponsors for this event.
As is often the case at these conferences, the various booths hand out fun items. The hot items this year were tie-dyed tee-shirts from Qlogic, and propeller beanies from the IBM rack and power systems team. Here is Amanda, one of the bartenders showing off the latter.
After the expo on Tuesday night, my friends at [Texas Memory Systems] held an after-party. Unlike the pens, tee-shirts and keychains at the Expo, these guys had a raffle for real storage products. Here is Erik Eyberg handing out a RamSan PCIe card, valued at $14,000 or so. IBM recently certified the TMS RamSan as External SSD storage for the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC). The SVC can optimize performance using this for automated sub-LUN tiering with the IBM System Storage Easy Tier feature.
Jim is an IBM Fellow for IBM Systems and Technology Group. There are only 73 IBM Fellows currently working for IBM, and this is the highest honor IBM can bestow on an employee. He has been working with IBM since 1968.
He is tasked with predicting the future of IT, and help drive strategic direction for IBM. Cost pressures, requirements for growth, accelerating innovation and changing business needs help influence this direction.
IBM's approach is to integrate four different "IT building blocks":
Scale-up Systems, like the IBM System Storage DS8000 and TS3500 Tape Library
Resource Pools, such as IBM Storage Pools formed from managed disks by IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC)
Integrated stacks and appliances, integrated software and hardware stacks, from Storwize V7000 to full rack systems like IBM Smart Analytics Server or CloudBurst.
Mobility of workloads and resources requires unified end-to-end service management. Fortunately, IBM is the #1 leader in IT Service Management solutions.
Jim addressed three myths:
Myth 1: IT Infrastructures will be homogenous.
Jim feels that innovations are happening too rapidly for this to ever happen, and is not a desirable end-goal. Instead, a focus to find the right balance of the IT building blocks might be a better approach.
Myth 2: All of your problems can be solved by replacing everything with product X.
Jim feels that the days of "rip-and-replace" are fading away. As IBM Executive Steve Mills said, "It isn't about the next new thing, but how well new things integrate with established applications and processes."
Myth 3: All IT will move to the Cloud model.
Jim feels a substantial portion of IT will move to the Cloud, but not all of it. There will always be exceptions where the old traditional ways of doing things might be appropriate. Clouds are just one of the many building blocks to choose from.
Jim's focus lately has been finding new ways to take advantage of virtualization concepts. Server, storage and network virtualization are helping address these challenges through four key methods:
Sharing - virtualization that allows a single resource to be used by multiple users. For example, hypervisors allow several guest VM operating systems share common hardware on a single physical server.
Aggregation - virtualization that allows multiple resources to be managed as a single pool. For example, SAN Volume Controller can virtualize the storage of multiple disk arrays and create a single storage pool.
Emulation - virtualization that allows one set of resources to look and feel like a different set of resources. Some hypervisors can emulate different kinds of CPU processors, for example.
Insulation - virtualization that hides the complexity from the end-user application or other higher levels of infrastructure, making it easier to make changes of the underlying managed resources. For example, both SONAS and SAN Volume Controller allow disk capacity to be removed and replaced without disruption to the application.
In today's economy, IT transformation costs must be low enough to yield near-term benefits. The long-term benefits are real, but near-term benefits are needed for projects to get started.
What set's IBM ahead of the pack? Here was Jim's list:
100 Years of Innovation, including being the U.S. Patent leader for the last 18 years in a row
IBM's huge investment in IBM Research, with labs all over the globe
Leadership products in a broad portfolio
Workload-optimized designs with integration from middleware all the way down to underlying hardware
Comprehensive management software for IBM and non-IBM equipment
Clod is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Strategist for IBM System Storage. His presentation focused on trends and directions in the IT storage industry. Clod started with five workload categories:
To address these unique workload categories, IBM will offer workload-optimized systems. The four drivers on the design for these are performance, efficiency, scalability, and integration. For example, to address performance, companies can adopt Solid-State Drives (SSD). Unfortunately, these are 20 times more expensive dollar-per-GB than spinning disk, and the complexity involved in deciding what data to place on SSD was daunting. IBM solved this with an elegant solution called IBM System Storage Easy Tier, which provides automated data tiering for IBM DS8000, SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Storwize V7000.
For scalability, IBM has adopted Scale-Out architectures, as seen in the XIV, SVC, and SONAS. SONAS is based on the highly scalable IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS). File systems are like wine, they get better with age. GPFS was introduced 15 years ago, and is more mature than many of the other "scalable file systems" from our competition.
Areal Density advancements on Hard Disk Drives (HDD) are slowing down. During the 1990s, the IT industry enjoyed 60 to 100 percent annual improvement in areal density (bits per square inch). In the 2000s, this dropped to 25 to 40 percent, as engineers are starting to hit various physical limitations.
Storage Efficiency features like compression have been around for a while, but are being deployed in new ways. For example, IBM invented WAN compression needed for Mainframe HASP. WAN compression became industry standard. Then IBM introduced compression on tape, and now compression on tape is an industry standard. ProtecTIER and Information Archive are able to combine compression with data deduplication to store backups and archive copies. Lastly, IBM now offers compression on primary data, through the IBM Real-Time Compression appliance.
For the rest of this decade, IBM predicts that tape will continue to enjoy (at least) 10 times lower dollar-per-GB than the least expensive spinning disk. Disk and Tape share common technologies, so all of the R&D investment for these products apply to both types of storage media.
For integration, IBM is leading the effort to help companies converge their SAN and LAN networks. By 2015, Clod predicts that there will be more FCoE purchased than FCP. IBM is also driving integration between hypervisors and storage virtualization. For example, IBM already supports VMware API for Array Integration (VAAI) in various storage products, including XIV, SVC and Storwize V7000.
Lastly, Clod could not finish a presentation without mentioning Cloud Computing. Cloud storage is expected to grow 32 percent CAGR from year 2010 to 2015. Roughly 10 percent of all servers and storage will be in some type of cloud by 2015.
As is often the case, I am torn between getting short posts out in a timely manner versus spending some more time to improve the length and quality of information, but posted much later. I will spread out the blog posts in consumable amounts throughout the next week or two, to achieve this balance.
Maria Boonie is the IBM Director for IBM Worldwide Training and Technical Conferences. She indicated that there were 1500 attendees this week crossing both the System Storage and System x conferences at this hotel. There are 35 vendors that have sponsored this event, and they will be at the "Solutions Center" being held Monday through Wednesday this week.
She took this opportunity to plug IBM's latest education offerings, including Guaranteed-to-Run implementation classes, and Instructor-Led Online (ILO) technical classes.
Brian Truskowski is IBM General Manager for System Storage and Networking. I used to directly report to him in a previous role, and a few years ago he used to be the IBM CIO that helped with IBM's internal IT transformation.
Brian indicates that the previous approach to growth was to "Just Buy More", but this has some unintended consequences. He argued that companies need to adopt one or more of the following approaches to growth:
Stop storing so much - reduce data footprint using storage efficiency capabilities like data deduplication and compression
Store more with what is already on the floor - improve storage utilization with technologies like storage virtualization and thin provisioning
Move data to the right place - implement automated tiering, such as "Flash & Stash" between Solid-state drives and spinning disk, and/or Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) between disk and tape. Studies at some clients have found over 70 percent of data has not beed touched in the last 90 days
This time of dramatic change is the result of a "perfect storm" of influences, including the rising costs and risks associated with losing data, the increased need to index and search data, the desire for "Business Analytics", and the expectation for 100 percent up-time. This is driving IBM to offer hyper-efficient backup, Continuous Data Availability, and Smart Archive solutions.
The case study of SPRINT is a good example. SPRINT is a Telecommunications provider for cell phone users. They were challenged with 35 percent utilization, 165 storage arrays from six different vendors, and an expected 100 percent increase in their IT maintenance costs. After implementing IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC) to manager 2.9 PB of data, SPRINT increased their utilization to 82 percent, reduced down to 70 storage arrays from only three vendors, and reduced their maintenance costs by 57 percent. Today, SPRINT now manages over 5 PB of data with SVC and TPC, have reduced their power and cooling by 3.5 million KWh, representing $320,000 USD in savings.
Roland Hagan is the IBM Vice President for the System x server platform. He talked about the "IT Conundrum" that represents a vicious cycle of "IT Sprawl", "Untrusted Data" and "Inflexible IT" that seem to feed each other. IBM is trying to change behavior, from thinking and dealing with physical boxes representing servers, storage and network gear, to a more holistic view focused on workloads, shared resource pools, independent scaling, and automated management.
IBM is leading the server marketplace, in part because of clever things IBM is doing, especially in developing the eX5 chipset that surrounds x86 commondity processors, and in part because of actions or decisions the competition have taken:
It doesn't break IBM's heart that Oracle decided to drop software support of their database on Itanium, which focued entirley against HP. Oracle runs on IBM servers better than Oracle/Sun or HP servers today, so it does not impact us, other than IBM has had a lot of people leaving HP to switch over to IBM.
HP has taken on a new CEO and reduced their R&D budget, causing them to be late-to-market on some of their offerings.
Dell continues to focus on the small and medium sized customer, and have not really broken into the "Enterprise".
Newcomer Cisco has some great technology that only seems to be adoptable in "Green Field" situations, as it does not integrate well with existing data center infrastructures.
The combination of ex5 chip-set architecture, Max5 memory expansion capabilities and Virtual Network Interface Cards (NICs), provide for a very VM-aware platform. For those who are not ready to fully adopt an integrated stack like IBM CloudBurst, IBM offers the Tivoli Service Automation software on its own, and a new [IBM BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud] as stepping stones to get there.
There are certainly more attendees here than last year, which reflects either the change in location (Orlando, Florida rather than Washington DC) as well as the economic recovery. I'm looking forward to an excellent week!
Dan Galvan, IBM VP of Marketing for Storage, was the next speaker. With 300 billion emails being sent per day, 4.6 billion cell phones in the world, and 26 million MRIs per year, there is going to be a huge demand for file-based storage. In fact, a recent study found that file-based storage will grow at 60 percent per year, compared to 15 percent growth for block-based storage.
Dan positioned IBM's Scale-out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) as the big "C:" drive for a company. SONAS offers a global namespace, a single point of management, with the ability to scale capacity and performance tailored for each environment.
The benefits of SONAS are great. We can consolidate dozens of smaller NAS filers, we can virtualize files across different storage pools, and increase overall efficiency.
Powering advanced genomic research to cure cancer
The next speaker was supposed to be Bill Pappas, Senior Enterprise Network Storage Architect, Research Informatics at [St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital]. Unfortunately, St. Jude is near the flooding of the Mississippi river, and he had to stay put. An IBM team was able to capture his thoughts on video that was shown on the big screen.
Thanks to the Human Genome project, St. Jude is able to cure people. They see 5700 patients per year, and have an impressive 70 percent cure rate. The first genetic scan took 10 years, now the technology allows a genome to be mapped in about a week. Having this genomic information is making vast strides in healthcare. It is the difference of fishing in a river, versus putting a wide net to catch all the fish in the Atlantic ocean all at once.
Recently, St. Jude migrated 250 TB of files from other NAS to an IBM SONAS solution. The SONAS can handle a mixed set of workloads, and allows internal movement of data from fast disk, to slower high-capacity disk, and then to tape. SONAS is one of the few storage systems that supports a blended disk-and-tape approach, which is ideal for the type of data captured by St. Jude.
IBM's own IT transformation
Pat Toole, IBM's CIO, presented the internal transformation of IBM's IT operations. He started in 2002 in the midst of IBM's effort to restructure its process and procedures. They identified four major data sources: employee data, client data, product data, and financial data. They put a focus to understand outcomes and set priorities.
The result? A 3-to-1 payback on CIO investments. This allowed IBM to go from server sprawl to consolidated pooling of resources with the right levels of integration. In 1997, IBM had 15,000 different applications running across 155 separate datacenters. Today, they have reduced this down to 4,500 applications and 7 datacenters. Their goal is to reduce down to 2,225 applications by 2015. Of these, only 250 are mission critical.
Pat's priorities today: server and storage virtualization, IT service management, cloud computing, and data-centered consolidation. IBM runs its corporate business on the following amount of data:
9 PB of block-based storage, SVC and XIV
1 PB of file-based storage, SONAS
15 PB of tape for backup and archive
Pat indicated that this environment is growing 25 percent per year, and that an additional 70-85 PB relates to other parts of the business.
By taking this focused approach, IBM was able to increase storage utilization from 50 to 90 percent, and to cut storage costs by 50 percent. This was done through thin provisioning, storage virtualization and pooling.
Looking forward to the future, Pat sees the following challenges: (a) that 120,000 IBM employees have smart phones and want to connect them to IBM's internal systems; (b) the increase in social media; and (c) the use of business analytics.
After the last session, people gathered in the "Hall of the Universe" for the evening reception, featuring food, drinks and live music. It was a great day. I got to meet several bloggers in person, and their feedback was that this was a very blogger-friendly event. Bloggers were given the same level of access as corporate executives and industry analysts.