Continuing my week in Washington DC for the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University], I presented a session on Storage for the Green Data Center, and attended a System x session on Greening the Data Center. Since they were related, I thought I would cover both in this post.
It seems that Green IT initiatives are more important to the storage-oriented attendees than the x86-oriented folks. I suspect that is because many System x servers are deployed in small and medium businesses that do not have data centers, per se.
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The technology industry is full of trade-offs. Take for example solar cells that convert sunlight to electricity. Every hour, more energy hits the Earth in the form of sunlight than the entire planet consumes in an entire year. The general trade-off is between energy conversion efficiency versus abundance of materials:
IBM has eliminated this trade-off with a record-setting breakthrough last week, demonstrating 9.6 percent efficiency [thin film solar cells using earth-abundant materials].
A second trade-off is exemplified by EMC's recent GeoProtect announcement. This appears similar to the geographic dispersal method introduced by a company called [CleverSafe]. The trade-off is between the amount of space to store one or more copies of data and the protection of data in the event of disaster. Here's an excerpt from fellow blogger Chuck Hollis (EMC) titled ["Cloud Storage Evolves"]:
Seized by the government? falling into the wrong hands? Is EMC positioning ATMOS as "Storage for Terrorists"? I can certainly appreciate the value of being able to protect 6PB of data with only 9PB of storage capacity, instead of keeping two copies of 6PB each, the trade-off means that you will be accessing the majority of your data across your intranet, which could impact performance. But, if you are in an illicit or illegal business that could have a third of your facilities "seized by the government", then perhaps you shouldn't house your data centers there in the first place. Having two copies of 6PB each, in two "friendly nations", might make more sense.
(In reality, companies often keep way more than just two copies of data. It is not unheard of for companies to keep three to five copies scattered across two or three locations. Facebook keeps SIX copies of photographs you upload to their website.)
ChuckH argues that the governments that seize the three nodes won't have a complete copy of the data. However, merely having pieces of data is enough for governments to capture terrorists. Even if the striping is done at the smallest 512-byte block level, those 512 bytes of data might contain names, phone numbers, email addresses, credit cards or social security numbers. Hackers and computer forensics professionals take advantage of this.
You might ask yourself, "Why not just encrypt the data instead?" That brings me to the third trade-off, protection versus application performance. Over the past 30 years, companies had a choice, they could encrypt and decrypt the data as needed, using server CPU cycles, but this would slow down application processing. Every time you wanted to read or update a database record, more cycles would be consumed. This forced companies to be very selective on what data they encrypted, which columns or fields within a database, which email attachments, and other documents or spreadsheets.
An initial attempt to address this was to introduce an outboard appliance between the server and the storage device. For example, the server would write to the appliance with data in the clear, the appliance would encrypt the data, and pass it along to the tape drive. When retrieving data, the appliance would read the encrypted data from tape, decrypt it, and pass the data in the clear back to the server. However, this had the unintended consequences of using 2x to 3x more tape cartridges. Why? Because the encrypted data does not compress well, so tape drives with built-in compression capabilities would not be able to shrink down the data onto fewer tapes.
(I covered the importance of compressing data before encryption in my previous blog post [Sock Sock Shoe Shoe].)
Like the trade-off between energy efficiency and abundant materials, IBM eliminated the trade-off by offering compression and encryption on the tape drive itself. This is standard 256-bit AES encryption implemented on a chip, able to process the data as it arrives at near line speed. So now, instead of having to choose between protecting your data or running your applications with acceptable performance, you can now do both, encrypt all of your data without having to be selective. This approach has been extended over to disk drives, so that disk systems like the IBM System Storage DS8000 and DS5000 can support full
Certainly, something to think about!
technorati tags: , sunlight, solar cells, electricity, indium, gallium, cadmium, copper, tin, zinc, sulfur, selenium, thin+film, efficiency, EMC, Chuck Hollis, GeoProtect, Cleversafe, governement, seizure, Facebook, terrorists, encryption, forensics, hackers, protection, performance, disk, tape
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Am I dreaming? On his Storagezilla blog, fellow blogger Mark Twomey (EMC) brags about EMC's standard benchmark results, in his post titled [Love Life. Love CIFS.]. Here is my take:
So, I am glad to see EMC starting to cite standard benchmarks. Hopefully, SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks are forthcoming?
technorati tags: IBM, tape, EMC, Mark+Twomey, Storagezilla, CIFS, NFS, Celerra, V-Max, N7900, VMware, VMDK, Sun, Oracle, StorageTek, tape, benchmarks, SPEC, SPECsfs, SPECsfs2008, SPC, SPC-1, SPC-2, NetApp, FAS6080
IBM makes another breakthrough today with an announcement about tape data density. Unlike hard disk drive technologies that are hitting physical limits, IBM is proving that tape technology still has plenty of life in its future. When I first started working for IBM in Tucson, back in 1986, a 3420 tape reel held only 180MB of data, and a 3480 tape cartridge improved this to 200MB of data. Today's enterprise tapes, like 3592 cartridges for the TS1130 drives, or LTO4 cartridges for the IBM TS1040 drives, are half-inch wide, half-mile long, and can store 1 TB or more of data per cartridge, depending on how well the data can compress. To increase cartridge capacity, designers can make changes in three dimensions:
Working with FujiFilm Corporation of Japan, my colleagues at IBM Research facility in Zurich were able to demonstrate an incredible 29.5 Gigabits per square inch, nearly 40 times more dense than today's commercial tape technology. In the near future, we will be able to hold a 35TB tape cartridge in our hand. There was actually a lot to make this happen, improved giant magentoresistive read/write heads, better servo patterns to stay on track, thinner tracks less than a micron thick, and better signal-to-noise processing to accomplish this. To learn more, you can read the [Press Release] or watch this quick [4-minute YouTube video].
Tape -- You've come a long way, baby!
Well, it's Tuesday, and that means IBM announcements! Today is bigger, as there are a lot of Dynamic Infrastructure announcements throughout the company with a common theme, cloud computing and smart business systems that support the new way of doing things. Today, IBM announced its new "IBM Smart Archive" strategy that integrates software, storage, servers and services into solutions that help meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. IBM has been spending the past few years working across its various divisions and acquisitions to ensure that our clients have complete end-to-end solutions.
IBM is introducing new "Smart Business Systems" that can be used on-premises for private-cloud configurations, as well as by cloud-computing companies to offer IT as a service. IBM [Information Archive] is the first to be unveiled, a disk-only or blended disk-and-tape Information Infrastructure solution that offers a "unified storage" approach with amazing flexibility for dealing with various archive requirements:
The Information Archive has all the server, storage and software integrated together into a single machine type/model number. It is based on IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) to provide incredible scalability, the same clustered file system used by many of the top 500 supercomputers. Initially, Information Archive will support up to 304TB raw capacity of disk and Petabytes of tape. You can read the [Spec Sheet] for other technical details.
For those who prefer a more "customized" approach, similar to IBM Scale-Out File Services (SoFS), IBM has [Smart Business Storage Cloud]. IBM Global Services can customize a solution that is best for you, using many of the same technologies. In fact, IBM Global Services announced a variety of new cloud-computing services to help enterprises determine the best approach.
In a related announcement, IBM announced [LotusLive iNotes], which you can think of as a "business-ready" version of Google's GoogleApps, Gmail and GoogleCalendar. IBM is focused on security and reliability but leaves out the advertising and data mining that people have been forced to tolerate from consumer-oriented Web 2.0-based solutions. IBM's clients that are already familiar with on-premises version of Lotus Notes will have no trouble using LotusLive iNotes.
There was actually a lot more announced today, which I will try to get to in later posts.
technorati tags: IBM, Dynamic Infrastructure, Smart Archive, Information Archive, Information Infrastructure, TSM, SSAM, WORM, NENR, DR550, GMAS, N series, SnapLock, compliance, disk, tape, storage, GPFS, LotusLive, iNotes, SoFS, Google, GoogleApps, Gmail, GoogleCalendar