Safe Harbor Statement: The information on IBM products is intended to outline IBM's general product direction and it should not be relied on in making a purchasing decision. The information on the new products is for informational purposes only and may not be incorporated into any contract. The information on IBM products is not a commitment, promise, or legal obligation to deliver any material, code, or functionality. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for IBM products remains at IBM's sole discretion.
Tony Pearson is a an active participant in local, regional, and industry-specific interests, and does not receive any special payments to mention them on this blog.
Tony Pearson receives part of the revenue proceeds from sales of books he has authored listed in the side panel.
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
Continuing my week in Chicago, for the IBM Storage Symposium 2009, I attended what in my opinion was the bestsession of the week. This was by a guy named Chip Copper, who covered IBM's set of Ethernet and Fibre Channelnetworking gear. Attributes are the four P's:
Power and Cooling (electricity usage)
Equipment comes in two flavors: Top-of-Rack (ToR) thin pizza box switches, and Middle-of-Row (MoR) much larger directors.The MoR directors are engineered for up to 50Gbps per half-slot, so 10GbE and the future 40GbE can be easily accommodated in a single half-slot, and the future 100GbE can be done with a full slot (two half-slots).
While many companies might have been contemplating the switch from copper wires to optical fiber, there is a new reason for copper cables: Power-over-Ethernet (PoE). Many IP-phones, digital video surveillance cameras, and other equipment can have a single cable that delivers both signal and electricity over copper. If you have already deployed optical fiber throughout the building, there are "last mile" options where the signals are converted to copper wires and electrical energy added for these types of devices.
Two directors can be connected together with Inter-Chassis Link (ICL) cables to make them look like a single director with twice the number of ports. These are different than Inter-Switch Links (ISL) as they are not counted as an extra "hop" for networking counting purposes, especially important for FICON usage.
Today, we have 1Gbps, 2Gbps, 4Gbps and 8Gbps Fibre Channel. Since these all use 10-for-8 encoding (10 bits represents one 8-bit byte), then in was easy to calculate throughput: 8Gpbs was 800 MB/sec, for example. Auto-negotiation between speeds is not done at the HBA card, switch or director blade itself, but in the Short Form-factor Pluggable (SFP) optical connector. However, you can only auto-negotiate if the encoding matches. The 4/2/1 SFP can run at 4Gbps or auto-negotiate to slower 2Gbps and 1Gbps. The 8/4/2 SFP can run at 8Gbps, or auto-negotiate down to slower 4Gpbs and 2Gbps. Folks who still have legacy 1Gbps equipment, but want to run some things at 8 Gbps, can buy 8Gbps-capable switches or director blades, but then put some 4/2/1 SFPs into them. These 4/2/1 SFP are cheaper, so this might be something to consider if budgets are tight. Some SFPs handle up to 10km distances, but others only 4km, so be careful not to order the wrong ones.
Unfortunately, there are proposals in place for 10Gbps and 40Gbps that would use a different 66-for-64 encoding (66 bits represent 8 bytes), so 10Gbps would be 1200 MB/sec. These are used today for ISL between directors and switches.In theory, the 40Gbps could auto-negotiate down to 10Gbps, but not to any of the 8/4/2/1 Gbps that use different 10-for-8 encoding.
For those who cannot afford a SAN768B, there is a smaller SAN384B that can carry: 192 ports (4Gpbs/2Gbps), 128 ports (8Gbps) or 24 ports (10Gbps). The SAN384B can be ICL connected to another SAN384B or even the SAN768B as your needs grow.
On the entry-level side, the SAN24B-4 offers a feature called "Access Gateway". This makes the SAN24B look like an SAN end-point host, rather than a switch, and makes initial deployment of integrated bundled solutions easier. Once connected to everything, you can convert it over to full "switch" mode.The SAN40B-4 and SAN80B-4 provide midrange level support, including Fibre Channel routing at the 8Gbps level. In fact, all 8Gbps ports include routing capability. IBM offers both single-port and dual-port 8Gbps host bus adapter (HBA) cards to connect to these switches. These HBA offer 16 virtual channels per port, so that if you have VMware running many guests, or want to connect both disk and tape to the same HBA, you can keep the channel traffic separate for Quality of Service (QoS).
Chip wrapped up his session to discuss Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), and explained why we need to have a loss-less Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) to meet the needs of storage traffic as well as traditional Fibre Channel does today. IBM offers all of the equipment you need to get started today on this FCoCEE, with Converged Network Ethernet cards for your System x servers, and a new SANB32 that has 24 10GbE CEE ports and 8 traditional 8Gbps FC ports. This means that you can put the CNA card in your existing servers, connect to this switch, and then connect to your existing 10GbE LAN and your existing 8Gpbs or 4Gpbs FC-based SAN to the rest of your storage devices.
Worried that the FCoE or CEE standards could change after you deploy this gear? Aren't most LAN and SAN switches based on Application-specific integrated circuit [ASIC] chips which are created in the factory? Don't worry, IBM's equipment have put all the standards-vulnerable portions of the logic into separate Field-programmable gate array [FPGA] that can be updated with simplya firmware upgrade. This is future-proofing I can agree with!
Continuing my week in Chicago, for the IBM Storage Symposium 2008, I attended two presentations on XIV.
XIV Storage - Best Practices
Izhar Sharon, IBM Technical Sales Specialist for XIV, presented best practices using XIV in various environments.He started out explaining the innovative XIV architecture: a SATA-based disk system from IBM can outperformFC-based disk systems from other vendors using massive parallelism. He used a sports analogy:
"The men's world record for running 800 meters was set in 1997 by Wilson Kipketer of Denmark in a time of 1:41.11.
However, if you have eight men running, 100 meters each, they will all cross the finish line in about 10 seconds."
Since XIV is already self-tuning, what kind of best practices are left to present? Izhar presented best practicesfor software, hosts, switches and storage virtualization products that attach to the XIV. Here's some quickpoints:
Use as many paths as possible.
IBM does not require you to purchase and install multipathing software as other competitors might. Instead, theXIV relies on multipathing capabilities inherent to each operating system.For multipathing preference, choose Round-Robin, which is now available onAIX and VMware vSphere 4.0, for example. Otherwise, fixed-path is preferred over most-recently-used (MRU).
Encourage parallel I/O requests.
XIV architecture does not subscribe to the outdated notion of a "global cache". Instead, the cache is distributed across the modules, to reduce performance bottlenecks. Each HBA on the XIV can handle about 1400requests. If you have fewer than 1400 hosts attached to the XIV, you can further increase parallel I/O requests by specifying a large queue depth in the host bus adapter (HBA).An HBA queue depth of 64 is a good start. Additional settings mightbe required in the BIOS, operating system or application for multiple threads and processes.
For sequential workloads, select host stripe size less than 1MB. For random, select host stripe size larger than 1MB. Set rr_min_io between ten(10) and the queue depth(typically 64), setting it to half of the queue depth is a good starting point.
If you have long-running batch jobs, consider breaking them up into smaller steps and run in parallel.
Define fewer, larger LUNs
Generally, you no longer need to define many small LUNs, a practice that was often required on traditionaldisk systems. This means that you can now define just 1 or 2 LUNs per application, and greatly simplifymanagement. If your application must have multiple LUNs in order to do multiple threads or concurrent I/O requests, then, by all means, define multiple LUNs.
Modern Data Base Management Systems (DBMS) like DB2 and Oracle already parallelize their I/O requests, sothere is no need for host-based striping across many logical volumes. XIV already stripes the data for you.If you use Oracle Automated Storage Management (ASM), use 8MB to 16MB extent sizes for optimal performance.
For those virtualizing XIV with SAN Volume Controller (SVC), define manage disks as 1632GB LUNs, in multiple of six LUNs per managed disk group (MDG), to balance across the six interface modules. Define SVC extent size to 1GB.
XIV is ideal for VMware. Create big LUNs for your VMFS that you can access via FCP or iSCSI.
Organize data to simplify Snapshots.
You no longer need to separate logs from databases for performance reasons. However, for some backup productslike IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) for Advanced Copy Services (ACS), you might want to keep them separatefor snapshot reasons. Gernally, putting all data for an application on one big LUNgreatly simplifies administration and snapshot processing, without losing performance.If you define multiple LUNs for an application, simply put them into the same "consistencygroup" so that they are all snapshot together.
OS boot image disks can be snapshot before applying any patches, updates or application software, so that ifthere are any problems, you can reboot to the previous image.
Employ sizing tools to plan for capacity and performance.
The SAP Quicksizer tool can be used for new SAP deployments, employing either the user-based orthroughput-based sizing model approach. The result is in mythical unit called "SAPS", which represents0.4 IOPS for ERP/OLTP workloads, and 0.6 IOPS for BI/BW and OLAP workloads.
If you already have SAP or other applications running, use actual I/O measurements. IBM Business Partners and field technical sales specialists have an updated version of Disk Magic that can help size XIV configurations fromPERFMON and iostat figures.
Lee La Frese, IBM STSM for Enteprise Storage Performance Engineering, presented internal lab test results forthe XIV under various workloads, based on the latest hardware/software levels [announced two weeks ago]. Three workloadswere tested:
Web 2.0 (80/20/40) - 80 percent READ, 20 percent WRITE, 40 percent cache hits for READ.YouTube, FlickR, and the growing list at [GoWeb20] are applications with heavy read activity, but because of[long-tail effects], may not be as cache friendly.
Social Networking (50/50/50) - 50 percent READ, 50 percent WRITE, 50 percent cache hits for READ.Lotus Connections, Microsoft Sharepoint, and many other [social networking] usage are more write intensive.
Database (70/30/50) - 70 percent READ, 30 percent WRITE, 50 percent cache hits for READ.The traditional workload characteristics for most business applications, especially databases like DB2 andOracle on Linux, UNIX and Windows servers.
The results were quite impressive. There was more than enough performance for tier 2 application workloads,and most tier 1 applications. The performance was nearly linear from the smallest 6-module to the largest 15-module configuration. Some key points:
A full 15-module XIV overwhelms a single SVC 8F4 node-pair. For a full XIV, consider 4 to 8 nodes 8F4 models, or 2 to 4 nodes of an 8G4. For read-intensive cache-friendly workloads, an SVC in front of XIV was able to deliver over 300,000 IOPS.
A single node TS7650G ProtecTIER can handle 6 to 9 XIV modules. Two nodes of TS7650G were needed to drivea full 15-module XIV. A single node TS7650 in front of XIV was able to ingest 680 MB/sec on the seventh day with17 percent per-day change rate test workload using 64 virtual drives. Reading the data back got over 950 MB/sec.
For SAP environments where response time 20-30 msec are acceptable, the 15-module XIV delivered over 60,000 IOPS. Reducing this down to 25,000-30,000 cut the msec response time to a faster 10-15 msec.
These were all done as internal lab tests. Your mileage may vary.
Not surprisingly, XIV was quite the popular topic here this week at the Storage Symposium. There were many moresessions, but these were the only two that I attended.
Continuing my week in Chicago, at the IBM System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference, I attended an
awesome session that summarized IBM's Linux directions. Pat Byers presented the global forces that are
forcing customers to re-evaluate the TCO of their operating system choices, the need for rapid integration
in an ever-changing business climate, government stimulus packages, and technology that has enabled much
better solutions than we had during the last economic turn-down in 2001-2003.
IBM has been committed to Linux for over 10 years now. I was part of the initial IBM team in the 1990s to work on Linux for the mainframe. In various roles, I helped get Linux attachment tested for disk and tape systems, and helped get Linux selected as an operating system platform of choice for our storage management software.
Today, Linux-based server generate $7 Billion US dollars in revenues. For UNIX customers, Linux provides greater flexibility for hardware platform. For Windows customers, Linux provides better security and reliability.
Initially, Linux was used for simple infrastructure applications, edge-of-the-network and Web-based workloads.
This evolved to Application and Data serving, Enterprise applications like ERP, CRM and SCM. Today,
Linux is well positioned to help IBM make our world a smarter planet, able to handle business-critical applications. It is the only operating system to scale to the full capability of the biggest IBM System x3950M2 server.
Pat gave an examples of IBM's work with Linux helping clients.
City of Stockholm
The city of Stockholm, Sweden introduced congestion pricing to reduce traffic.
IBM helped them deploy systems to collect tariffs from 300,000 vehicles a day, with real-time scanning and recognition of vehicle license plates, Web-accessible payment processing, and analytics for metrics and reporting. This configuration was able to
[reduce traffic by 25 percent in the first month].
IBM helped [ConAgra Foods] switch their SAP environment from a monolithic Solaris on SPARC deployment, to a more distributed one using Novell SUSE Linux on x86. The result? Six times faster performance at 75 percent lower total cost of ownership!
IBM's strategy has been to focus on working with two of the major Linux distributors: Red Hat and Novell. It also works with [Asianux] which is like the UnitedLinux for Asia, internationalized for Japan, Korea, and China. It handles special requests for other distributions, from CentOS to Ubuntu, as needed on a case by case basis.
IBM's Linux Technology Center of 600 employees help to enable IBM products for Linux, make Linux a better operating system, expand Linux's reach, and help drive collaboration and innovation. In fact, IBM is the #3 corporate contributor to the open source Linux kernel, behind Red Hat (#1) and Novell (#2). For most IBM products, IBM tests with Linux as rigorously as it does Microsoft Windows. IBM offers complete RTS/ServicePac and SupportLine service and support contracts for Red Hat and Novell Linux.
At the IBM Solutions Center this week, several booths used Linux bootable USB sticks to run their software.
[Novell SUSE Studio] was developed to help
customize Linux to the specific needs for independent vendors.
Both Red Hat and Novell offer distributions in four categories:
Standard - for small entry-level servers, with support for a few virtual guests
Advanced Platform - for bigger servers, and support for many or unlimited number of virtual guests
High Performance Computing - HPC and Analytics for large grid deployments
Real Time - for real time processing, such as with
[IBM WebSphere Real Time], where
sub-second response time is critical.
A key difference between Red Hat and Novell appears to be on their strategy towards server virtualization.
Red Hat wants to position itself as the hypervisor of choice, for both servers and desk top virtualization, announcing Kernel-based Virtual Machine
[KVM] on their Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4 release, and their new upcoming
RHEV-V, a tight 128MB hypervisor to compete against VMware ESXi. Meanwhile, Novell is focusing SUSE to be
the perfect virtual guest OS, being hypervisor-aware an dhaving consistent terms and licensing when run under any hypervisor, including VMware, Hyper-V, Citrix Xen, KVM or others.
IBM has tons of solutions that are based on Linux, including the IBM Information Server blade, the InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse, SAN Volume Controller (SVC), TS7650 ProtecTIER data deduplication virtual tape library, Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS), Scale-out File Services (SoFS), Lotus Foundations, and the IBM Smart Cube.
If you are interested in trying out Linux, IBM offers evaluation copies at no charge for 30 to 90 days. For
more on how to deploy Linux successfully on IBM servers, see the
[IBM Linux Blueprints] landing page.
Continuing my week in Chicago, for the IBM Storage Symposium 2008, we had sessions that focused on individual products. IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) was a popular topic.
SVC - Everything you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask!
Bill Wiegand, IBM ATS, who has been working with SAN Volume Controller since it was first introduced in 2003. answered some frequently asked questions about IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller.
Do you have to upgrade all of your HBAs, switches and disk arrays to the recommended firmware levels before upgrading SVC? No. These are recommended levels, but not required. If you do plan to update firmware levels, focus on the host end first, switches next, and disk arrays last.
How do we request special support for stuff not yet listed on the Interop Matrix?
Submit an RPQ/SCORE, same as for any other IBM hardware.
How do we sign up for SVC hints and tips? Go to the IBM
[SVC Support Site] and select the "My Notifications" under the "Stay Informed" box on the right panel.
When we call IBM for SVC support, do we select "Hardware" or "Software"?
While the SVC is a piece of hardware, there are very few mechanical parts involved. Unless there are sparks,
smoke, or front bezel buttons dangling from springs, select "Software". Most of the questions are
related to the software components of SVC.
When we have SVC virtualizing non-IBM disk arrays, who should we call first?
IBM has world-renown service, with some of IT's smartest people working the queues. All of the major storage vendors play nice
as part of the [TSAnet Agreement when a mutual customer is impacted.
When in doubt, call IBM first, and if necessary, IBM will contact other vendors on your behalf to resolve.
What is the difference between livedump and a Full System Dump?
Most problems can be resolved with a livedump. While not complete information, it is generally enough,
and is completely non-disruptive. Other times, the full state of the machine is required, so a Full System Dump
is requested. This involves rebooting one of the two nodes, so virtual disks may temporarily run slower on that
What does "svc_snap -c" do?The "svc_snap" command on the CLI generates a snap file, which includes the cluster error log and trace files from all nodes. The "-c" parameter includes the configuration and virtual-to-physical mapping that can be useful for
disaster recovery and problem determination.
I just sent IBM a check to upgrade my TB-based license on my SVC, how long should I wait for IBM to send me a software license key?
IBM trusts its clients. No software license key will be sent. Once the check clears, you are good to go.
During migration from old disk arrays to new disk arrays, I will temporarily have 79TB more disk under SVC management, do I need to get a temporary TB-based license upgrade during the brief migration period?
Nope. Again, we trust you. However, if you are concerned about this at all, contact IBM and they will print out
a nice "Conformance Letter" in case you need to show your boss.
How should I maintain my Windows-based SVC Master Console or SSPC server?
Treat this like any other Windows-based server in your shop, install Microsoft-recommended Windows updates,
run Anti-virus scans, and so on.
Where can I find useful "How To" information on SVC?
Specify "SAN Volume Controller" in the search field of the
[IBM Redbooks vast library of helpful books.
I just added more managed disks to my managed disk group (MDG), can I get help writing a script to redistribute the extents to improve wide-striping performance?
Yes, IBM has scripting tools available for download on
[AlphaWorks]. For example, svctools will take
the output of the "lsinfo" command, and generate the appropriate SVC CLI to re-migrate the disks around to optimize
performance. Of course, if you prefer, you can use IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center instead for a more
Any rules of thumb for sizing SVC deployments?
IBM's Disk Magic tool includes support for SVC deployments. Plan for 250 IOPS/TB for light workloads,
500 IOPS/TB for average workloads, and 750 IOPS/TB for heavy workloads.
Can I migrate virtual disks from one manage disk group (MDG) to another of different extent size?
Yes, the new Vdisk Mirroring capability can be used to do this. Create the mirror for your Vdisk between the
two MDGs, wait for the copy to complete, and then split the mirror.
Can I add or replace SVC nodes non-disruptively? Absolutely, see the Technotes
[SVC Node Replacement page.
Can I really order an SVC EE in Flamingo Pink? Yes. While my blog post that started all
this [Pink It and Shrink It] was initially just some Photoshop humor, the IBM product manager for SVC accepted this color choice as an RPQ option.
The default color remains Raven Black.
Continuing my week in Chicago, for the IBM Storage Symposium 2008, I attended several sessions intended to answer the questions of the audience.
In an effort to be cute, the System x team have a "Meet the xPerts" session at their System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference, so the storage side decided to do the same. Traditionally, these have been called "Birds of a Feature", "Q&A Panel", or "Free-for-All". They allow anyone to throw out a question, and have the experts in the room, either
IBM, Business Partner or another client, answer the question from their experience.
Meet the Experts - Storage for z/OS environments
Here were some of the questions answered:
I've seen terms like "z/OS", "zSeries" and "System z" used interchangeably, can you help clarify what this particular session is about?
IBM's current mainframe servers are all named "System z", such as our System z9 or System z10. These replace the older zSeries models of hardware. z/OS is one of the six operating systems that run on this hardware platform. The other five are z/VM, z/VSE, z/TPF, Linux and OpenSolaris. The focus of this session will be storage attached and used for z/OS specifically, including discussions of Omegamon and DFSMS software products.
What can we do to reduce our MIPS-based software licensing costs from our third party vendors?
Consider using IBM System z Integrated Information Processor
What about 8 Gbps FICON?
IBM has already announced
[FICON Express8] host bus adapter (HBA) cards, that will auto-negotiate to 4Gbps and 2Gbps speeds. If you don't need full 8Gbps speed now, you can
still get the Express8 cards, but put 4/2/1 Gbps SFP ports instead. Currently, LongWave (LW) is only supported to 4km at 8Gbps speed.
I want to use Global Mirror for my DS8100 to my remote DS8100, but also make test copies of my production data to
an older ESS 800 I have locally. Any suggestions? Yes, consider using FlashCopy to simplify this process.
I have Global Mirror (GM) running now successfully with DSCLI, and now want to deploy IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication. Is that possible? Yes, Productivity Center for Replication will detect existing GM relationships, and start managing them.
I have already deployed HyperPAV and zHPF, is there any value in getting Solid-State Drives as well?
HyperPAV and zHPF impact CONN time, but SSD impacts DISC time, so they are mutually complementary.
How should I size my FlashCopy SE pool? SE refers to "Space Efficient", which stores only the changes
between the source and destination copies of each LUN or CKD volume involved. General recommendation is to start with 20 percent and adjust accordingly.
How many RAID ranks should I configure per DS8000 extent pool? IBM recommends 4 to 8 ranks per pool.
Meet the Experts: Storage for Linux, UNIX and Windows distributed systems
This session was focused on storage systems attached to distributed servers, as well as products from Tivoli used to manage them. Here were some of the questions answered:
When we migrated from Tivoli Storage Manager v5 to v6, we lost our favorite "Operational Reporting" tool. How can we get TOR back? You now get the new Tivoli Common Reporting tool.
How can we identify appropriate port distribution for multiple SVC node pairs for load balancing?
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v4.1 has hot-spot analysis with recommendations for Vdisk migrations.
We tried TotalStorage Productivity Center way back when, but the frequent upgrades were killing us. How has it been lately? It has been much more stable since v3.3, and completely renamed to Tivoli Storage Productivity Center to avoid association with versions 1 and 2 of the predecessor product. The new "lightweight agents" feature of v4.1 resolve many of the problems you were experiencing.
We have over 1600 SVC virtual disks, how do we handle this in IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center? Use the Filter capability in combination with clever naming conventions for your virtual disks.
How can we be clever when we are limited to only 15 characters? Ok. We understand.
We are currently using an SSPC with Windows 2003 and 2GB memory, but we are only using the Productivity Center for Replication feature of it. Can we move the DB2 database over to a Windows 2008 server with 4GB of memory?
Consider using the IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication software instead of SSPC for special
circumstances like this.
We love the XIV GUI, how soon will all other IBM storage products have it also? As with every acquisition,
IBM evaluates if there are technologies from new products that can be carried back to existing products.
We are currently using 12 ports on our existing XIV, and love it so much we plan to buy a second frame, but are concerned about consuming another 12 ports on our SAN switch. Any suggestions? Yes, use only six ports per frame. Just because you have more ports, doesn't mean you are required to use them.
We have heard there are concerns from the legal community about using deduplication technology, any ideas how to address that?
Nobody here in the room is a lawyer, and you should consult legal counsel for any particular situation.
None of the IBM offerings intended for non-erasable, non-rewriteable (NENR) data retention records (DR550, WORM tape, N series SnapLock) support dedupe today, and none of IBM's deduplication offerings (TS7650,N series A-SIS,TSM) make any claims for fit-for-purpose for compliance regulatory storage. However, be assured that all of IBM's dedupe technology involves byte-for-byte comparisons so that you never lose any data due to false hash collisions. For all IBM compliance storage, what you write will be read back in the correct sequence of ones and zeros.
Every January, we look back into the past as well as look into the future for trends to watch for the upcoming year. Ray Lucchesi of Silverton Consulting has a great post looking back at the [Top 10 storage technologies over the last decade]. I am glad to see that IBM has been involved with and instrumental in all ten technologies.
Looking into the future, Mark Cox of eChannel has an article [Storage Trends to Watch in 2011], based on his interviews with two fellow IBM executives: Steve Wojtowecz, VP of storage software development, and Clod Barrera, distinguished engineer and CTO for storage. Let's review the four key trends:
Cloud Storage and Cloud Computing
No question: Cloud Computing will be the battleground of the IT industry this decade. I am amused by the latest spate of Microsoft commercials where problems are solved with someone saying "...to the cloud". Riding on the coat tails of this is "Cloud Storage", the ability to store data across an Internet Protocol (IP) network, such as 10GbE Ethernet, in support of Cloud Computing applications. Cloud Storage protocols in the running include NFS, CIFS, iSCSI and FCoE.
Mark writes "..vendors who aren't investing in cloud storage solutions will fall behind the curve."
Economic Downturn forces Innovation
The old British adage applies: "Necessity is the mother of invention." The status quo won't do. In these difficult economic times, IT departments are running on constrained budgets and staff. This forces people to evaluate innovative technologies for storage efficiency like real-time compression and data deduplication to make better use of what they currently have. It also is forcing people to take a "good enough" attitude, instead of paying premium prices for best-of-breed they don't really need and can't really afford.
IT Service Management
Companies are getting away from managing individual pieces of IT kit, and are focusing instead on the delivery of information, from the magnetic surface of disk and tape media, to the eyes and ears of the end users. The deployment mix of private, hybrid and public clouds makes this even more important to measure and manage IT as a set of services that are delivered to the business. IT Service Management software can be the glue, helping companies implement ITIL v3 best practices and management disciplines.
Smarter Data Placement
A recent survey by "The Info Pro" analysts indicates that "managing storage growth" is considered more critical than "managing storage costs" or "managing storage complexity".
This tells me that companies are willing to spend a bit extra to deploy a tiered information infrastructure if it will help them manage storage growth, which typically ranges around 40 to 60 percent per year. While I have discussed the concept of "Information Lifecycle Management" (ILM), for the past four years on this blog, I am glad to see it has gone mainstream, helped in part with automated storage tiering features like IBM System Storage Easy Tier feature on the IBM DS8000, SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000 disk systems. Not all data is created equal, so the smart placement of data, based on the business value of the information contained, makes a lot of sense.
These trends are influencing what solutions the various different vendors will offer, and will influence what companies purchase and deploy.
Recently, I spoke with Jarrett Potts, my long-time friend and former IBM colleague, who now works as Director of Strategic Marketing over at STORServer. If you have never heard of STORServer, it is a company that makes purpose-built backup appliances.
What is a Backup Appliance? It is an integrated solution of hardware and software that serves a single purpose: backup and recovery. STORServer Enterprise Backup Appliance (EBA) combines IBM's high-end x86 M4 server, IBM disk and tape storage, and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) backup software.
(Fun Fact: The 2012 IBM year-end financial results were announced last month. IBM not only continues its #1 lead in servers overall, but has the #1 marketshare for high-end x86 servers, market-leading disk and tape storage hardware, and market leading backup software.)
To determine the appropriate size of your backup appliance, the folks at STORServer help you every step of the way. They figure out the number of TB you will backup every day, and even help configure all of the TSM server parameters to achieve the policies that make the most sense for your organization.
The appliance can backup every type of data, from databases and Virtual Machines (VMs) to documents, spreadsheets, and other unstructured data.
Are you then left with a solution too complicated to run yourself? No. The STORServer Console is an easy-to-use GUI for ongoing monitoring and maintenance. Plus, your friends at STORServer are only a phone call away in case you have any questions.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM, and STORSever is an approved IBM Business Partner that uses IBM hardware and software to build their solution. I have no financial interest in STORServer, and was not paid by STORServer to mention their company or products on my blog. This post may be considered a celebrity endorsement of STORServer and its Enterprise Backup Appliances.)
Perhaps my readers feel that I am a bit biased in describing a TSM-based solution, and you want a second opinion. No worries, I understand. In the latest 165-page [2012 DCIG Backup Appliance Buyer's Guide], the STORServer models ranked very high. Here is an excerpt:
"Nowhere is this demand for purpose built appliances more evident than in the rise of purpose
built backup appliances (PBBAs) over the last few years and their anticipated growth rate
going forward. A recent market analysis performed by IDC found that worldwide PBBA revenue totaled $2.4 billion in 2011 which was a 42.4 percent increase over the prior year.
This scoring came into play in preparing this Buyer's Guide
as the STORServer EBA 3100 model scored so highly
overall that it fell outside of the two (2) standard deviations
that DCIG generally uses as a guideline for inclusion and
exclusion of products.
The reason DCIG included this model in this Buyer's Guide
whereas in other situations it might not is that DCIG is
unaware of any other backup appliance(s) from any other
providers that come close to matching the EBA 3100's
software and hardware attributes. As such, DCIG felt it
would be doing STORServer specifically and the market
generally a disservice by not highlighting in this Buyer's
Guide that such a backup appliance existed and was
generally available for purchase."
Backup Appliance Models
STORServer EBA 3100
Symantec NetBackup 5220 Backup Appliance
STORServer EBA 2100
STORServer EBA 1100
STORServer EBA 800
Symantec Backup Exec 3600 Appliance
The STORServer is ideal for small and medium-sized business (SMB), but can scale quite large to handle business growth. If you are currently unhappy with your current backup environment, and feel now is the time to look around for a better way of taking backups, you won't go wrong choosing a solution based on IBM's market-leading server and storage hardware with Tivoli Storage Manager software.
Continuing my ongoing discussion on Solid State Disk (SSD), fellow blogger BarryB (EMC) points out in his [latest post]:
Oh – and for the record TonyP, I don't think I ever said EMC was using a newer or different EFDs than IBM. I just asserted that EMC knows more than IBM about these EFDs and how they actually work a storage array under real-world workloads.
(Here "EFD" is refers to "Enterprise Flash Drive", EMC's marketing term for Single Layer Cell (SLC) NAND Flash non-volatile solid-state storage devices. Both IBM and EMC have been selling solid-state storage for quite some time now, but EMC felt that a new term was required to distinguish the SLC NAND Flash devices sold in their disk systems from solid-state devices sold in laptops or blade servers. The rest of the industry, including IBM, continues to use the term SSD to refer to these same SLC NAND Flash devices that EMC is referring to.)
Although STEC asserts that IBM is using the latest ZeusIOPS drives, IBM is only offering the 73GB and 146GB STEC drives (EMC is shipping the latest ZeusIOPS drives in 200GB and 400GB capacities for DMX4 and V-Max, affording customers a lower $/GB, higher density and lower power/footprint per usable GB.)
Here is where I enjoy the subtleties between marketing and engineering. Does the above seem like he is saying EMC is using newer or different drives? What are typical readers expected to infer from the statement above?
That there are four different drives from STEC, in four different capacities. In the HDD world, drives of different capacities are often different, and larger capacities are often newer than those of smaller capacities.
That the 200GB and 400GB are the latest drives, and that 73GB and 146GB drives are not the latest.
That STEC press release is making false or misleading claims.
Uncontested, some readers might infer the above and come to the wrong conclusions. I made an effort to set the record straight. I'll summarize with a simple table:
Usable (conservative format)
Usable (aggressive format)
So, we all agree now that the 256GB drives that are formatted as 146GB or 200GB are in fact the same drives, that IBM and EMC both sell the latest drives offered by STEC, and that the STEC press release was in fact correct in its claims.
I also wanted to emphasize that IBM chose the more conservative format on purpose. BarryB [did the math himself] and proved my key points:
Under some write-intensive workloads, an aggressive format may not last the full five years. (But don't worry, BarryB assures us that EMC monitors these drives and replaces them when they fail within the five years under their warranty program.)
Conservative formats with double the spare capacity happen to have roughly double the life expectancy.
I agree with BarryB that an aggressive format can offer a lower $/GB than the conservative format. Cost-conscious consumers often look for less-expensive alternatives, and are often willing to accept less-reliable or shorter life expectancy as a trade-off. However, "cost-conscious" is not the typical EMC targeted customer, who often pay a premiumfor the EMC label. To compensate, EMC offers RAID-6 and RAID-10 configurations to provide added protection. With a conservative format, RAID-5 provides sufficient protection.
(Just so BarryB won't accuse me of not doing my own math, a 7+P RAID-5 using conservative format 146GB drives would provide 1022GB of capacity, versus 4+4 RAID-10 configuration using aggressive format 200GB drives only 800GB total.)
In an ideal world, you the consumer would know exactly how many IOPS your application will generate over the next five years, exactly how much capacity you will require, be offered all three drives in either format to choose from, and make a smart business decision. Nothing, however, is ever this simple in IT.
Yesterday's post [Software Programmers as Bees]was not meant as "career advice", but certainly I got some interesting email as if it was.Orson Scott Card was poking fun at the culture clash between software programmers andmanagement/marketers, and I gave my perspective, having worked both types of jobs.
This is June. Many students are graduating from high school or college and lookingfor jobs. Some of these might be jobs just for the summer to make some spending money,and others mights be jobs like internships to explore different career paths. I found both programming and marketing are rewarding and interesting work, but each person is different.
There are a variety of ways to find out what your personality traits are,and then focus on those jobs or career paths that are best for those strengths. Hereis an online [Typology Test] based onthe work of psychologists Carl Jung and Isabel Myers-Briggs. The result is a four-letterscore that represents 16 possible personalities. For example, mine is "ENTP",which stands for "Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving". You can find out otherfamous people that match your personality type. For ENTP, I am lumped together withfellow master inventor Thomas Edison, fellow author Lewis Carrol (Alice in Wonderland), Cooking great Julia Child, Comedians George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield (I get no respect!),movie director Alfred Hitchcock, and actor Tom Hanks.
USA Today had an article ["CEOsvalue lessons from teen jobs"] which offers some career advice from successful business people.Of course, what worked for them may not work for you, all based on different personality types. Hereis an excerpt of the advice I thought the most useful:
"If you are committed, you will be successful." (unfortunately, the reverse is also true: if you are successful,you will be asked to move to a different job)
"Tackle offbeat jobs. Challenge conventional wisdom within reason. Come into contact with people from all walks of life."
"Show an interest, demonstrate you want to be on the job."
"Never limit yourself. Look beyond to what needs to be done, or should be done. Then do it. Stretch. Go beyond what others expect."
"Find a job that forces you to work effectively with people. No matter what you end up doing, dealing with others will be critical."
"Bring your best to the table every day. Learn professional responsibility and how to handle difficult situations."
"Listen carefully to what customers want."
Before IBM, I ran my own business. If you are thinking, "Maybe I will start my own business instead?" you might want to see this advice from Venture Capitalist [Guy Kawasaki on Innovation].While running your own business has advantages, like avoiding issues "working for the man", it has somedisadvantages as well. It is certainly not as easy as some people make it seem to be.
Of course, things are a lot different nowadays than they were when these CEOs were teenagers. And the pace ofchange does not seem to be slowing down any either. Here is a presentation on [SlideShare.net] that helps bring to focus the realities of globalization:
Wrapping up this week's theme on why the System z10 EC mainframe can replace so many older, smaller,underutilized x86 boxes.This was all started to help fellow bloggers Jon Toigo of DrunkenData and Jeff Savit from Sun Microsystemsunderstand our IBM press release that we put out last February on this machine with my post[Yes, Jon, there is a mainframe that can help replace 1500 x86 servers] and my follow uppost [Virtualization, Carpools and Marathons"].The computations were based on running 1500 unique workloads as Linux guests under z/VM, and notrunning them as z/OS applications.
My colleagues in IBM Poughkeepsierecommended these books to provide more insight and in-depth understanding. Looks like some interesting summer reading. I put in quotes thesections I excerpted from the synopsis I found for each.
"From Microsoft to IBM, Compaq to Sun to DEC, virtually every large computer company now uses clustering as a key strategy for high-availability, high-performance computing. This book tells you why-and how. It cuts through the marketing hype and techno-religious wars surrounding parallel processing, delivering the practical information you need to purchase, market, plan or design servers and other high-performance computing systems.
Microsoft Cluster Services ("Wolfpack")
IBM Parallel Sysplex and SP systems
DEC OpenVMS Cluster and Memory Channel
Tandem ServerNet and Himalaya
Intel Virtual Interface Architecture
Symmetric Multiprocessors (SMPs) and NUMA systems"
Fellow IBM author Gregory Pfister worked in IBM Austin as a Senior Technical Staff Member focused on parallel processing issues, but I never met him in person. He points out that workloads fall into regions called parallel hell, parallel nirvana, and parallel purgatory. Careful examination of machine designs and benchmark definitions will show that the “industry standard benchmarks" fall largely in parallel nirvana and parallel purgatory. Large UNIX machines tend to be designed for these benchmarks and so are particularly well suited to parallel purgatory. Clusters of distributed systems do very well in parallel nirvana. The mainframe resides in parallel hell as do its primary workloads. The current confusion is where virtualization takes workloads, since there are no good benchmarks for it.
"In these days of shortened fiscal horizons and contracted time-to-market schedules, traditional approaches to capacity planning are often seen by management as tending to inflate their production schedules. Rather than giving up in the face of this kind of relentless pressure to get things done faster, Guerrilla Capacity Planning facilitates rapid forecasting of capacity requirements based on the opportunistic use of whatever performance data and tools are available in such a way that management insight is expanded but their schedules are not."
Neil Gunther points out that vendor claims of near linear scaling are not to be trusted and shows a method to “derate” scaling claims. His suggested scaling values for data base servers is closer IBM's LSPR-like scaling model, than TPC-C or SPEC scaling. I had mentioned that "While a 1-way z10 EC can handle 920 MIPS, the 64-way can only handle 30,657 MIPS."in my post, but still people felt I was using "linear scaling". Linear scaling would mean that if a 1Ghz single-core AMD Opteron can do four(4) MIPS, and an one-way z10 EC can do 920 MIPS, than one might assume that 1GHz dual-core AMD could do eight(8) MIPS, and the largest 64-way z10 EC can do theoretically 64 x 920 = 58,880 MIPS. The reality is closer to 6.866 and 30,657 MIPS, respectively.
This was never an IBM-vs-Sun debate. One could easily make the same argument that a large Sun or HP system could replace a bunch of small 2-way x86 servers from Dell. Both types of servers have their place and purpose, and IBMsells both to meet the different needs of our clients. The savings are in total cost of ownership, reducing powerand cooling costs, floorspace, software licenses, administration costs, and outages.
I hope we covered enough information so that Jeff can go back about talking about Sun products, and I can go backto talk about IBM storage products.
To get beyond the simple statistics of vendor popularity, we looked at the number and combinations of vendors with which enterprises work. Many were customers of one or two storage providers, but the rest were customers of up to six storage providers. More than one-third were customers of systems vendors only, bypassing storage specialists.
Comparisons between solutions vendors and storage component vendors are not new. One could argue that this can be compared to supermarkets and specialty shops.
Supermarkets offer everything you need to prepare a meal. You can buy your meat, bread, cheese,and extras all with one-stop shopping. In a sense, IBM, HP, Sun and Dell are offering this to clients who prefer this approach. Not surprisingly, the two leaders in overall storage hardware,IBM and HP, are also the two best to offer a complete set of software, services, servers and storage.
IBM and HP are also the leaders in tape.While Forrester reports that many large enterprises in North America prefer to buy diskfrom storage specialists, others have found that customers prefer to buy their tape from solution providers. Recently, Byte and Switch reports thatLTO Hits New Milestones,where the LTO consortium (IBM, HP, and Quantum) have collectively shipped over 2 million LTO tape drives, and over 80 million LTO tape cartridges. Perhaps this is because tape is part of an overallbackup, archive or space management solution, and customers trust a solution vendor overa storage specialist.
Where possible, IBM brings synergy between its servers and storage. For example, we justannounced the IBM BladeCenter Boot Disk System, a 2U high unit that supports up to 28 blade servers, ideal for applications running under Windows or Linux, and helping to reduce the energy consumption for thoseinterested in a "Green" data center.
Some people prefer buying their meat at the slaughterhouse, bread at the French pastry shop, andso on. Storage specialists focus on just storage, leaving the rest of the solution, like servers,to be purchased separately from someone else. Storage vendors like NetApp, EMC, HDS and othersoffer storage components to customers that like to do their own "system integration", or to thosethat are large enough to hire their own "systems integrator".
Storage specialists recognize that not everybody is a "specialty shop" shopper.HDS has done well selling their disk through solution vendorslike HP and Sun. EMC sells its gear through solution vendor Dell.
Interestingly, I have met clients who prefer to buy IBM System Storage N series from IBM, becauseIBM is a solution vendor, and others that prefer to buy comparable NetApp equipment directly fromNetApp, because they are a storage component vendor.
I mostly buy my groceries at a supermarket, buthave, on occasion, bought something from the local butcher, baker or candlestick maker. And if you are ever in Tucson, you might be able to find Mexican tamalessold by a complete stranger standing outside of a Walgreens pharmacy, the ultimate extreme of specialization. You can get a dozen tamales for tenbucks, and in my experience they are usually quite good. Theoretically, if you get sick, or they don't taste right, you have no recourse, and will probably never see that stranger again to complain to.(And no, before I get flamed, I am not implying any major vendor mentioned above is like this tamale vendor)
Of course, nothing is starkly black and white, and comparisons like this are just to help provide context and perspective,but if you are looking to have a complete IT solutionthat works, from software and servers to storage and financing, come to the vendor you can trust, IBM.
Over the past year and a half, I have been focused on explaining WHAT IBM System Storage was, and WHY IBM should be considered when making a storage purchase decision. Let's recapsome of IBM's accomplishments during this time:
Today, October 1, I switch over to HOW to get it done. In my new job role, I will be leading a seriesof projects and workshops on how to make your data center more green, how to get more value from the information you have, how to better protect your information from unauthorized access or unethical tampering, how to develop and deploya site-wide business continuity plan, and how to centralize your management using open industry standards.
I will still be in Tucson, but am moving from building 9032 over to 9070 to be closer to the rest of my team.
IBM and the Austin Chamber of Commerce is inviting registered SXSW Interactive attendees to the networking reception being hosted by the IBM Innovation Center and the IBM Venture Capital Group. Power Systems and Watson will have a significant feature at this SXSW event to be held on March 14, 2011.
While I won't be there personally at the SXSW conference, I strongly recommend you to attend this event.
Innovators and Entrepreneurs Networking Reception
Four Seasons Hotel
March 14, 2011
Hosted by IBM Venture Capital Group, Austin Chamber of Commerce, and the IBM Innovation Center.
This reception will provide a rare opportunity to network and collaborate with your professional community of industry leaders, entrepreneurs, developers, academics, venture capitalists, members of the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
(Note: While Lenovo has officially taken over the System x on October 1st back in the United States, China, and several other countries in Asia and the Americas, it has not yet happened in Europe. This is expected to happen this December. This results in some awkwardness during this period of transition.)
Day 1 started off with some keynote sessions. Amy Purdy, IBM Director of Training Services, was the emcee.
Gareth Tucker, Director of EMEA for Intel
Gareth focused on the strong partnership between IBM, Lenovo and Intel. For example, a client query that took 4 hours with traditional DB2 database on Intel Xeon, but only 90 seconds on DB2 BLU with the new Xeon V2 chip.
10 years ago, some storage vendors warned clients not to use any Intel-based storage devices. Today, over 85 percent of storage is Intel-based, including most of the IBM System Storage portfolio. IBM SoftLayer also uses Intel to offer both bare metal and virtual x86 servers, and was the first cloud provider to use Intel's "Trusted Execution" mode.
Next year, Microsoft will drop support for Windows 2003 server on July 15, 2015. This represents an excellent selling opportunity to get clients to upgrade their x86 server hardware. Intel estimates there are 24 million instances of Windows 2003 worldwide. On average, it takes 150 days to migrate to Windows 2012, so get clients to start now!
Jeff Howard, Vice President of Lenovo Flex and BladeCenter
Jeff was a last-minute stand-in for Adalio Sanchez who is busy getting thousands of employees and hundreds of trailer trucks full of IT equipment from IBM's Raleigh location to Lenovo's new building in Morrisville.
Lenovo's goal is simple: to be the #1 vendor of x86 enterprise servers. Lenovo sees a $44 Billion USD opportunity in x86 servers, with an additional $14B opportunity selling IBM System Storage attached to these servers. Lenovo is already #1 for Personal Computers in the consumer space, and is #1 for customer satisfaction. IBM System x #1 in reliability and up-time for x86 servers. In a client survey of how many clients had an outage lasting four hours or more, less than 1 percent from IBM System x compared to 13 percent for HP servers. That's a big difference!
There is a 40 percent growth in "Converged Systems" such as the Flex System and PureFlex systems. Lenovo will take over the x86-only versions of these, while IBM will retain the POWER-based and Power-and-x86 hybrid models. IBM will also retain the PureApplication and PureData models of the PureSystems line.
Lenovo is also focused on security. Their "Trusted Platform" includes Self-encrypting Drives (SED) managed by IBM Security Key Lifecycle Manager software, and Crypto-assist co-processors.
Jeff also mentioned new reference architectures for VMware's VSAN, Microsoft's Fast-track Data warehouse for SQL Server, SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure VDI with Atlantis ILIO, and Flex Systems for Hyper-V.
Greg Lotko, VP of IBM Storage Systems Development
Greg is the new VP of Storage Systems Development, about 11 months on the job, but I am glad to hear that he recognizes that IBM System Storage has a huge portfolio of products.
He focused on those areas where IBM is ranked #1:
IBM is #1 for All-Flash arrays.
IBM is #1 for Software Defined Storage (SDS).
IBM is #1 for Tape, including tape drives, tape libraries and virtual tape systems
The weather here in Dublin is great, although I have had not had much time to enjoy the outdoors with all the awesome and interesting sessions inside!
Before dinner, I was able to catch up with my colleagues from across the pond. Here I am pictured with Ola Surowiec, a Power Systems sales specialist from Scotland.
The dinner was set up as self-service buffet style, with choices of European, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. This is largely the heritage of the Ottoman empire to provide a fusion of flavors from its neighbors.
The city of Istanbul is considered the border between Europe and Asia, with one side of the city on the "European" side, and the other side of the Bosphorus strait being the "Asian" side.
With a population of over 14 million, Istanbul forms one of the largest urban agglomerations in Europe, second largest in the Middle East and the third-largest city in the world by population within its city limits.
The entertainment started with two [belly dancers], one male and one female. (IBM is an equal opportunity employer!) For those not familiar with this particular form of performance art, it is improvised folk dances based on torso articulation and abdominal movements.
I have seen dancers before in Egypt, the country that most people associate with the origin of belly dancing, but the Turkish version is considered more energetic and athletic. Certainly both of our dancers were quite flexible.
This was followed by a live cover band that played the latest English-language hits. Several Americans at the table asked "Wait? We come all the way to Turkey and the local band sings the songs in English?"
In the corner, attendees were invited to dress up as their favorite sultan to take photograph. Here for example, are some of the members of the STU event team. Mo McCullough, Don Meyer, Marlin Maddy, Glenn Anderson and Alex Abderrazag pose with two lovely local ladies in full costume.
The word "sultan" derives from the Arabic word meaning "strength", "authority" or "power". Sultans ruled the Turkish empire from 1299 to 1922.
The [Topkapi palace], where I visited earlier in the week, contains clothing on display of the sultans and princes from the second half of the 15th century to the early 20th century.
The first official day of the [Systems Technical University 2014] conference had keynote sessions in the morning. The conference features experts from IBM Power Systems, IBM System x, IBM PureSystems, and IBM System Storage.
The keynote sessions were started with Amy Purdy, IBM Director of Technical Training Services, the group that is running this conference.
This conference is not focused on System z solutions, as many of the System z clients were in New York City for this birthday event, but it came up several times during the keynote sessions.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM, and this blog post may be considered a paid, celebrity endorsement of IBM products and services. IBM has business relationship with both Intel and Amazon mentioned during the course of the keynote sessions, but I have no financial stake in either company. I was the chief architect for DFSMS, the storage management component of the z/OS mainframe operating system, and was part of the team that ported Linux to the System z mainframe.)
Nicolas Sekkaki, IBM Vice President of Systems and Technology Group in Europe, discussed IBM's commitment to client's privacy, the x86 and POWER server platforms, and a variety of mind-bogging announcements. He is focused on three trends: Big Data, Cloud, and Mobile.
IBM is focusing its hardware efforts on high-value, high-margin solutions such as System Storage, POWER Systems and System zEnterprise mainframe environments. Did you know that 65 percent of the world's business transactions are processed by either POWER systems or System zEnterprise mainframe?
IBM is also extending its continued focus on Linux and Open Source initiatives. For the System zEnterprise mainframes, 78 percent of our clients run Linux on System z. Over 290 clients have added the "zBX" option that allows them to run Windows and AIX on the mainframe as well. It is now less expensive to run workloads on System zEnterprise -- about 1 dollar per day per server -- than public cloud offerings from Amazon Web Services. Linux on POWER also has lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) than Linux-x86.
Nicolas also mentioned major changes for the POWER Systems, starting with the [OpenPOWER Consortium], formed by IBM, Google, Mellanox, NVIDIA and Tyan.
The move makes POWER hardware and software available to open development for the first time as well as making POWER Intellectual Property licensable to others, greatly expanding the ecosystem of innovators on the platform. The consortium will offer open-source POWER firmware, the software that controls basic chip functions. By doing this, IBM and the consortium can offer unprecedented customization in creating new styles of server hardware for a variety of computing workloads.
IBM POWER has switched from being "Big Endian" to being "Bi-Endian", allowing operating systems to choose between "Big Endian" or "Little Endian" modes. The Big Endian mode allows for Linux compatibility with the System zEnterprise mainframe, and the Little Endian mode for compatibility with Linux-x86.
Thorston Kahrmann, Intel Account Director for EMEA, presented Intel's rich history of collaboration with IBM, from technologies like BlueTooth and PCiE Generation 3, to platforms like BladeCenter and NeXtScale, to Industry Standards.
IBM had a lot of "firsts" in the x86 server area, including the first 16-processor server, the first to offer hot-swap memory, and over 100 leading performance benchmarks.
The latest Intel Xeon chip is the E7 version 2. For example, changing from DB2 v10.1 on the old E7, to running DB2 BLU columnar acceleration on the new E7 version 2, resulted in a 148 times increase in performance. A query on a 10TB database that previously took four hours was completed in under 90 seconds.
Thorston also wanted to remind the audience that nearly every System Storage product from IBM, from the high-end XIV, SAN Volume Controller, SONAS and FlashSystem V840, to midrange and entry level Storwize products, are all based on Intel's x86 processors.
Louise covered the findings from the latest 2012 CEO study, gathering insight from 1709 CEO interviews. The major focus areas for CEOs are:
Empowering employees through company-wide values
Engaging customers as individuals, rather than via demographics
Amplifying innovation with strategic and tactical partnerships
With smartphones, tablets and ubiquitous Internet access, everyone is now a technologist, so that IT is now becoming a competitive differentiator. IT projects and Business projects are no longer separate. If your IT department is seen as an expense, it will continue to get its budget cut. If, however, your IT department is part of your revenue stream, then it can be viewed as an asset.
Sadly, over 75 percent of IT projects fail, either are way over budget, delivered late, or some combination of the two. Business leaders are pushing for IT improvements, but often CIOs are too afraid to take the risks to move the business forward. Louise cited three reasons for this, which she called the three C's:
The IT and Business leaders did not full understand the context of the project.
The content of the project was not properly defined between IT and Business architects.
The collaboration between IT and Business personnel was not properly established.
Louise wrapped up her session with asking a simple question: How much is the cost of a light bulb. Some might focus on the cost of the bulb itself, while others might add the cost of maintenance, having ladders and personnel to replace them as needed, and others might include the electricity consumed. Both Business and IT leaders need to focus on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in their planning.
I presented IBM's Smarter Storage Strategy. This is focused on three key areas:
Data-intensive Solutions. Storage is needed for Big Data analytics. IBM is focused on efficiency in all dimensions: capacity efficiency with data footprint reduction techniques, energy efficiency, administrator efficiency with ease-of-use interfaces, and reduced complexity.
Business-critical workloads. Storage needs to allow business to prioritize which applications and workloads are most critical, and automate Quality of Service (QoS) for each application based on its business importance. The result is a balance between performance and cost across the spectrum of applications.
Start quickly and add value. IBM is committed to support private, hybrid and public cloud deployments. Storage needs to support not just VMware, but also Hyper-V, KVM, PowerVM and z/VM. That is why IBM is a platinum sponsor for the OpenStack foundation.
Eric Aquaronne presented an excellent session on OpenStack foundation, an open source collaboration of various companies to bring a consistent Cloud-management standard across compute, storage and network resources.
Replication for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
I have been involved with Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery my entire 28-year career at IBM System Storage, so when I was asked to cover BC/DR in 75 minutes, I focused just on aspects related to disk-to-disk replication.
I divided the presentation into three sections:
Business priorities. You need to prioritize which business processes are most important, and prioritize your recovery accordingly.
Technical implementation. Once priorities are set, there are seven "Business Continuity Tiers" to choose from. BC Tier 1 is the least expensive, recovering from physical tapes stored in an off-site vault. The fastest recovery is BC Tier 7, which automates the storage, server and network fail-over to a secondary site in as little as 30 minutes.
Ongoing management. Just setting up a BC/DR implementation is not enough. It needs to be monitored to ensure that it continues to provide the protection you expect. BC/DR exercises should be performed one or more times per year to ensure that everyone has the skills and procedures documented to succeed in the event of a real disaster.
Of these seven BC tiers, BC Tier 6 is focused on storage replication, such as Metro or Global mirror available on our DS8000, XIV Storage System, SONAS and SAN Volume Controller. BC Tier 7 involves system automation, such as Tivoli Distributed Disaster Recovery Manager and GDPS.
What is Big Data? Architectures and Practical Use Cases
This session was an expanded version of the one I gave in Belgium last year. Big Data is a big topic, and there are a variety of "big data" related sessions at this conference. I focused on three key areas:
The change in the role of Storage Administrator. In the past, most of the data was structured and stored in databases, managed by database administrators. However, in today's environment, over 80 percent of the data is unstructured, outside of traditional relational databases, so either the database administrators need to learn new skills, or storage administrators will need to step up and help manage this unstructured data content.
The change in the role of Business Analyst. We are no longer just looking at the financial consequences of patterns and trends. The new role of Data Scientist needs to apply statistical models, show some business acumen, and be able to "tell a story" that is supported by the data when communicating findings to Business and IT leaders.
The change in the role of Decision Maker. In the past, Decision Support Systems were available only to the top-level business executives. Now, empowered employees have access to real-time analytics that can help them make decisions and take immediate actions.
This session packed the house, with standing room only. I would like to offer a special thanks to IBM VP Bob Sutor, Stephen Brodsky, Linton Ward, and Ralph McMullen in helping me finalize my presentation.
Continuing coverage of the [Systems Technical University 2014] conference, we had an early morning awards ceremony to celebrate top sellers that led big wins in Europe for FlashSystems, XIV, Power Systems, and PureSystems.
Afterwards, there were several breakout sessions on day 2.
Storage Technology Futures -- fresh from IBM research labs, tomorrow in your datacenter
Axel Koester presented several projects from IBM Research labs that have contributed to actual products, including the incredible scalability of [PERCS] that was incorporated into IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS).
Cloud Storage and Active Cloud Engine
My presentation started off explaining the taxonomy of cloud storage. There are basically four kinds of cloud storage: persistent storage, ephemeral storage, hosted storage, and reference storage. Each of these has unique access patterns and service level requirements.
IBM has three distinct cloud storage offerings, so I covered IBM XIV Storage Systems, SONAS and Storwize V7000 Unified with Active Cloud Engine, and Linear Tape File System (LTFS) Enterprise Edition (LTFS-EE).
FlashSystem competitive overview
Henrik Wilken provided an excellent presentation comparing IBM FlashSystems to the dozen or more competitors that offer all-flash or hybrid flash-and-disk combinations.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center
From 2001 to 2003, I was the chief architect for what is now called Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. It continues to be the top most requested topic for briefings at the IBM Tucson Executive Briefing Center.
I presented an overview of Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, with a brief update on what's new in TPC 5.2.1 and the SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center v5.2.1 releases.
IBM Archive Storage Solutions - Data Retention for Government Compliance and Industry Regulations
I can't believe it has been nine years since I was on the Product Development Team for the IBM DR550 Data Retention storage solution!
In this session, I explained the lessons we learned from the DR550, its successor the Information Archive, and how we now position System Storage Archive Manager (SSAM) software as their replacement. SSAM was recently certified by KPMG to meet a variety of US, European and International laws.
Step Right Up! Take your presentation skills to the next level
Glenn Anderson presented this session under the guise of "Professional Development". Whether you are new to public speaking and looking for some guidance, or are an experienced A-list celebrity looking to gain a few pointers, this session covered it all.
Some of my favorites:
Presentations are not Documentation! If a presentation had all the information to stand on its own, nobody would even bother to listen to the speaker. Many new presenters have 3-4 lines for titles, and too many words in small font to ensure they cover all the details to speak on. Don't do it. My rule of thumb is that 50 percent of the information is conveyed verbally, and the other 50 percent visually from the presentation.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. I couldn't agree more. I try to focus on my core message in my presetations. I am a big fan of the [KISS principle] which stands for "Keep it simple, stupid!"
VOICE - Victory over inconsistent conscious energy! There is nothing more painful than hearing a public speaker who talks to softly, too loudly, or in a monotone manner. Mix it up! If you want to capture someone's attention, whisper! Vary your volume for effect.
Presenting is like Pouring Wine. At cocktail parties, the hosts will walk around with the bottle, and refill the glasses of those who are actively drinking the wine, but leave alone those who haven't sipped a drop. Public speakers need to focus on the needs of those in the audience paying close attention, and ignore people who are asleep, paying attention to their laptops and smartphones, or otherwise distracted.
Don't memorize - Extemporize. Too often, new speakers try to memorize their entire presentation. This doesn't go well, and can end up looking like an actor on live stage forgetting his next line. Instead, focus on getting the general idea across in a more natural conversational tone.
Building Open Clouds on POWER Systems
Mandie Quartly presented the excitement of building a cloud using IBM's new Linux-only line of PowerLinux™ servers, KVM, virsh, virtio and OpenStack interfaces. Jeff Scheel was on hand to interject bits of wisdom throughout her session.
IBM is investing heavily into the Linux side of all of its servers, and the latest investments have been focused on the POWER systems.
Storage Clouds in the Big Blue Sky
Dick Vogelsang presented this session focused mostly on the "Self-service" aspect of Cloud Storage. While this sounded like it would be similar to my session from yesterday, it was actually quite different.
Vogelsang explained SmartCloud Storage Access, and compared this to how competitors are providing (or not providing) self-service provisioning of file spaces and LUNs. He gave examples based on VMware, Hyper-V, and OpenStack Foundation.
It is interesting the angle or spin that each speaker gave to each topic!
Johann Weiss, Jim Blue and I joined several other local experts to answer questions and respond to comments and suggestions attendees had about IBM System Storage products and solutions. Here is a sample:
I would like to add 1TB of Flash to our FlashSystem 810 and have the system automatically re-stripe across this new capacity non-disruptively?
How can I have XIV systems at two datacenters in an active/active configuration that would allow me to vMotion from one location to the other non-disruptively?
Put them behind the SAN Volume Controller in Stretched Cluster mode.
What about a similar active/active but for NAS?
IBM N series.
I would like HyperSwap on the SVC/Storwize family like the DS8000 offers for AIX?
When will IBM offer a multi-frame XIV?
The "Hyper-Scale" set of features lets you logically connect 144 XIV frames together and treat as a single system. There is no need to physically bolt them together, since the communication is done over standard network switches.
When will IBM devices have native FCoE support?
All IBM System Storage products work within an FCoE framework today, either with native FCoE support, or through Top-of-Rack switches splitting out the traffic between IP and FCP traditional networks. IBM Storwize and N series products support FCoE natively, and any disk behind virtualized by SAN Volume Controller or Storwize can be access via FCoE hosts because of this support.
What is FLAPE?
FLAPE is the combination of Flash and Tape. Both of these technologies are improving over 40 percent year-to-year, but disk is slowing down to 20 percent improvement. It is possible to combine Flash and tape systems, such as IBM LTFS-EE or IBM ProtecTIER TS7600 series.
Only the Storwize V7000 Unified supports file modules to add NAS capabilities, what can IBM offer us that is smaller for NAS deployments, perhaps a Storwize V5000 Unified or Storwize V3700 Unified?
Consider the IBM N3000 series.
Other storage vendors indicate that RAID-5 and RAID-6 are running out of steam, are no longer practical to protect ever growing capacities of disk. What is IBM planning in this area?
IBM XIV Storage System was one of the first to offer a distributed RAID that addresses many of the RAID-5/RAID-6 drive rebuild concerns. IBM DCS3700 and DCS3860 also have Dynamic Disk Pooling to reduce drive rebuild impact. Lastly, IBM GPFS now offers Native RAID support, used in the IBM GPFS Storage Server.
Is it true that GPFS is NFS only?
Do not confuse GPFS the file system with the various storage offerings that are based on GPFS. IBM SONAS and Storwize V7000 Unified, both based on GPFS, support CIFS, NFS, HTTPS, SCP and FTP. IBM GPFS Storage Server can be configured to access GPFS natively, or you can run NFS v3/v4 server to make those protocols available. With Microsoft [Windows Storage Server], you can provide CIFS access to any GPFS-based storage solution.
LTFS-EE sounds like an exciting alternative to IBM Tivoli Storage Manager HSM space management for moving data from disk to tape. Do you agree?
Yes, we agree. However, TSM HSM space management supports a broader set of file systems. LTFS-EE only provides disk-to-tape movement for IBM GPFS.
Why does the DS8000 implementation of Easy Tier sub-LUN automated tiering support three tiers, but SVC/Storwize only support two tiers?
The same software engineering team works on both, but develop new features for the DS8000 first, get it working, then port it over to the Storwize family. At times, there might be gaps between what is supported on the latest DS8000 version and what is available on Storwize family products.
In an SVC Stretched Cluster, I would like to have the third quorum disk connected over the IP network, rather than FCP.
Personally, I enjoy these interchanges. They are sometimes called "Birds-of-a-Feather" or BOF at some conferences, "Free-for-All" at others. At IBM conferences, they are often titled "Meet the Experts". Whatever you call it, the questions and feedback on what clients are thinking are quite useful for product planning and prioritization of future planned features.
New Generation Storage Tiering: Less Management, Lower Investment and Increased Performance
This was not just an update to my session last year in Brussels, Belgium. Rather, I decided to start over and focus I/O density as the metric to focus my efforts, armed with real data from Intelligent Storage Tiering Analysis (ISTA) studies done at various clients. From that, I was able to talk about storage tiering on three fronts:
Storage tiering between Flash and disk. IBM FlashSystem and IBM Easy Tier on DS8000 and Storwize family for hybrid Flash-and-disk configurations.
Storage tiering between disk and tape. HSM and Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) on SONAS, Storwize V7000 Unified and LTFS-EE.
Storage tiering automation across your entire environment. ISTA studies can help identify a target mix of Tier 0, Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 storage. SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center can recommend or perform the movement of LUNs to more appropriate tiers, based on age and I/O density measurements.
Next Generation FlashSystem 840 and V840, Architecture Deep Dive
Detlef Helmbrecht, from the IBM Advanced Technical Skills team in Germany, presented this deep dive in our latest IBM FlashSystem offerings. He started with an analogy. Latency is like a single car driving down an empty highway. IOPS, on the other hand, is like a lot of cars stuck in slow traffic, with all lanes filled on the autobahn. While there are more cars transported on a full highway, the individual cars are not driving very fast. Flash versus disk has similar comparisons.
Detlef explained the differences between the previous FlashSystem 810/820 with the new 840, as well as talk about the FlashAdapter 90 now available as a PCIe card.
Finally, we talked about SAN Volume Controller combined with Flash, and the new FlashSystem V840 which combines SVC and FlashSystem 840 to have an incredibly function-rich, robust solution.
Data Footprint Reduction - Understanding IBM Storage Efficiency Options
My last session of the week! This session covered all of the various technologies for data footprint reduction, including Thin Provisioning, Space-efficient FlashCopy and snapshots, Real-time compression and data deduplication. Frankly, I wasn't expecting many people to attend the last session of the last day, but nearly 50% of the seats were filled, so I was quite pleased on the turn-out.
Fun Fact: Istanbul is considered by TripAdvisor in 2014 as the #1 most popular city to visit in Europe!
Want to hear the latest technical information about IBM Storage, but not willing to wait until the big [IBM Edge Conference] this September? We will have a variety of "Systems Technical University" events in the next few weeks in a variety of locations.
In the United States, I will be presenting several topics at the following:
Atlanta, GA -- April 12-14
San Francisco, CA -- May 10-12
Chicago, IL -- May 18-20
Boston, MA -- June 7-9
Here's my schedule for the one in Atlanta:
Introduction to Object Storage and its Applications with Cleversafe
Software Defined Storage -- Why? What? How?
Integration between Spectrum Scale and Cleversafe
IBM Spectrum Scale for File and Object storage
What Is Big Data? Architectures and Practical Use Cases
New Generation of Storage Tiering: Less Management, Lower Cost and Increased Performance
The Pendulum Swings Back -- Understanding Converged and Hyperconverged Environments
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.
We have successfully arrived to Mumbai, India. Since this is my first time in India, I decidedto check out the town by going to the local McDonald's® restaurant. As a former software engineer of McDonald's, I love the food, and try to visit a McDonald's in every country I visit. Wikipedia calls our transportation an [Auto Rickshaw], but the locals called it a "tuk-tuk". This is not my first time in one, they have them in Thailand and Mexico as well.
We had the hotel identify the address of the closest McDonald's to our hotel. From past experienceI know that tuk-tuk drivers will suggest alternatives, in an effort to earn a larger fare, or to redirectto a preferred location where the driver might get special kick-backs. Our driver was no different.
The traffic was treacherous, the roadswere in roughshod condition, and sad looking stray dogs digging through piles of rubbish were everywhere. The local "Daily News and Analysis" newspaper this week estimates that there are over 70,000 stray dogs in Mumbai alone.What to do with all of these strays is a matter of controversy. In preparation for the Olympic games, China hasasked its restaurants to [take"dog" off their menus].Having lived in one of the poorest countries, and one of the richest, nothing surprises me anymore.
My IBM colleague, Curtis Neal, decided to join me for this adventure. Finally, after about 20 minutes, our driver parks the tuk-tuk. He told us the restaurant is only aboutthree blocks away by foot, he would allow us to treat him to lunch, and then he will take us back to the hotel.While we appreciated his fantastic imagination, we told him we just wanted to be taken one-way to the restaurant, to drop us off at the front door, and we would find another tuk-tuk for the return.
After a bit of argument, we settled on being left only one block away, and we would walk the rest.While we could not see exactly where the restaurant was when we got out, he at least pointed us in the right direction.
The problem was that we approached the restaurant from behind, and came up to its equivalent of a "drive thru" window,ordered our food, and then went to the second window to pick up our order. We were eating on the street. It was not until I decided to take this photo of the restaurant, that we discovered there was an entire seating area upstairs, and around the cornerthe main entrance!
There were plenty of tuk-tuks picking up and dropping people off, so we have no idea why ourprevious driver was unwilling to take us the entire distance.
Cows are sacred here in India, so thereare no beef-based hamburgers to choose from. My choices for sandwiches were:
Since my nutritionist asked me to avoid carbs and fried foods, I chose the McChicken with cheese combo meal with fries and a Coke.
Getting back was also a challenge. While we had no problem haling a tuk-tuk, we had no idea the address of ourhotel, and our driver had no idea where it was. We ended up driving around the city until we found a differenthotel, asked them if they knew where it was, and then eventually getting to our hotel. This is something I shouldhave planned for in advance, getting a card with the hotel details on it before leaving.
While it might seem like a simple trip, Curtis and I probably learned more about India this way than spending a week inside the comforts of our hotel.
Well, this has been an interesting two weeks. On week 1, I focused on IBM's strategy and four keysolutions areas: Information Availability, Information Security, Information Retention, and InformationCompliance. On week 2, I focused on individual products, their attributes, features and functions.Which week drew more blog traffic? You guessed it--week 1. Apparently, people want to know more aboutsolutions to their challenges and problems, and not just see what piece part components are available.
While IBM had switched over to solution-selling a while ago, some of our competitors are still inproduct-selling mode, and try to frame all competitive comparisons on a product-by-product basis.In my post[Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I drew the analogy that the IT supermarkets (IBM, HP, Sun and Dell) are focusedon selling solutions, but the IT specialty shops (HDS, EMC, and others) are still focused on products.
Certainly, the transition from product-focused to solution-focused is not an easy one. As the IT industry matures, more and more clients are looking to buy solutions from theirvendors. What does it take to change behaviour of newly acquired employees, recently hired sales reps, and business partners, many of whom come from product-centric cultures, to match this dramatic shift in the marketplace? Let's take a look at change in other areas of the world.
On the[Freakonomics blog], Stephen Dubner discusses how clever people in Israel have figured out a way to get people to clean up after their pets in public places. This is a problem in many countries. Here we see an old idea, the [carrot-and-stick] approach, combined with newinformation technology. Here's an excerpt:
"In order to keep a city’s streets clean of dog poop, require dog owners to submit DNA samples from their pets when they get licenses; then use that DNA database to trace any left-behind poop and send the dogs’ owners stiff fines.
Well, it took three years but the Israeli city of Petah Tikva has actually put this plan to work:
The city will use the DNA database it is building to match feces to a registered dog and identify its owner.
Owners who scoop up their dogs’ droppings and place them in specially marked bins on Petah Tikva’s streets will be eligible for rewards of pet food coupons and dog toys.
But droppings found underfoot in the street and matched through the DNA database to a registered pet could earn its owner a municipal fine."
Sometimes, if enough people change, then changing behaviours of the few remaining becomes much easier. DanLockton on his Architectures of Control blog posts about the[London Design Festival - Greengaged]. This year, the festival focused on behavior changes for a greener environment, ecodesign and sustainable issues in design.Here's an excerpt and corresponding 5-minute YouTube video:
Lea argued three important points relevant to behaviour change:
Behaviour change requires behaviour (i.e. the behaviour of others: social effects are critical, as we respond to others’ behaviour which in turn affects our own; targeting the ‘right’ people allows behaviour to spread)
Behaviour and motivation are two different things: To change behaviour, you need to understand and work with people’s motivations - which may be very different for different people.
Desire is not enough: lots of people desire to behave differently, but it needs to be very easy for them to do it before it actually happens."
Of course, tax and government regulations can heavily influence behaviour and decisions. Since today is[International Talk Like a Pirate Day], I thought I would finish this post off with this interesting piece on Google barges. Some companies, like IBM and Google, seem more adaptable to changing behaviour and trying out fresh new ideas.Will Runyon over on the Raised Floor blog, has a post about Google's patent for[Data center barges on the sea]:"The idea is to use waves to power the data centers, ocean water to cool them, and a moored distance of seven miles or more to avoid paying taxes."
Arrr! Now that's what I call a new way of looking at things!
"Our survey data shows that over the past 12 months, more firms have bought their storage from a single vendor. While this might not be for everyone, it's worth serious consideration for your environment. Maybe you won't get the best price per gigabyte every time, but you'll probably save money in the long run because of simpler management, increased staff specialization, increased capacity utilization, and better customer service."
A Forrester survey of 170 companies ranging from SMBs to large enterprises in North America and Europe found that more than 80 percent bought their primary storage from one vendor over the last year. That includes 64 percent of the companies with more than 500 TB of raw storage.
The report, written by analyst Andrew Reichman, says using more than one primary storage vendor can make it more complex to manage, provision and support the storage environment. And while using multiple vendors can often bring better pricing, buying from one vendor can result in volume discounts.
“You may have tried to contain costs by forcing multiple incumbent vendors to continuously compete against each other, with price as the primary differentiator,” Reichman writes. “This strategy can reduce prices and limit vendor lock-in, but it can also lead to management complexity and poor capacity utilization.”
The report recommends keeping things simple by and using fewer vendors when possible. However, that advice comes with several caveats: buying all storage from one vendor means taking the bad with the good, and some vendors’ product families differ so much “they may as well come from different vendors.”
As if by coincidence, fellow blogger from EMC Chuck Hollis gives his reflections on this same topic. Here's an excerpt:
When it comes to buying storage (or any infrastructure technology, for that matter), there seem to be two camps:
Best-of-breed (i.e. multivendor): -- buy what's best, get the best price, keep all the vendors on their toes, etc. etc.
Single vendor: primarily use one vendor's offerings, and hold them accountable for the outcome.
If Chuck had said "multivendor" versus "single vendor", then that would have been a true dichotomy, but interestinglyhe equates best-of-breed with a multivendor approach. Let's consider two examples:
Disk from one vendor, Tape from another
Here is a multivendor strategy, and if you have a clear idea of what best-of-breed means to you, then you couldpick the best disk in the market, and the best tape in the market. However, I don't think this keeps either vendor"on their toes", or helps you negotiate lower prices by threatening to switch to the other vendor. In shops likethis, the staffing usually matches, so there are disk administration and tape operations, with little or no overlap, andlittle or no interest in retraining to use a new set of gear. It is true that disk-based VTL could be used where real tape libraries are used, but this may not be enough to threaten your existing vendors that you will switch all your disk to tape, or all your tape to disk.
One could argue that the vendor that sells the besttape could be the exact same vendor that sells the best disk. In this case, your multivendor strategy would actuallywork against you, forcing you away from one of your best-of-breed choices.
Disk and Tape from one vendor for some workloads, Disk and Tape from another vendor for other workloads
Here is a different multivendor strategy. Having disk and tape for the same vendor allows you to take advantageof possible synergies. The IT staff knows how to use the products from both vendors. This strategy does let you keep your vendors "on their toes". You can legitimately threaten to shift your budget from one vendor over another.However, whatever your definition of best-of-breed is, chances are the product from one vendor is, and the other vendor is not. Both meet some lowest common denominator, meeting some minimum set of requirements, which would allow you to swap out one for the other.
I guess I look at it differently. The equipment in your data center should be thought of as a team. Do your servers, storage and software work well together?
While Americans like to celebrate the accomplishments of individual musicians, athletes or executives, it is actually bands that compete against other bands, sports teams that compete against other sport teams, and companies that compete against other companies. Teamwork in the data center is not just for the people who work there, but also for the IT equipment. Just as a new incoming athlete may not get along well with teammates, shiny new equipment may not get along with your existing gear. Conversely, your existing infrastructure may not let the talents or features of your new equipment shine through.
Putting together the best parts from different teams might serve as a great diversion for those who enjoy["fantasy football"], it may not be the best approach for the data center. Instead, focus on managing your data center as a team, perhaps with theuse of IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center to minimize the heterogeneity of your different equipment. Pick an ITvendor that sells "team players" for your servers, storage and software, with broad support for interoperability and compatibility.
This week, I was in the Phoenix area presenting at TechData's TechSelect University. TechData is one of IBM's IT distributors,
and TechSelect is their community of 440 resellers and 20 vendors. This year they celebrate their 10 year anniversary of this event. I covered three particular topics, and I was videotaped for those who were not able to attend my session. (There were very few empty seats at my sessions)
IBM Business Partners now realize that the "killer app" for storage is combining the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller with entry-level or midrange disk storage systems for an awesome solution. Solutions based on either the Entry Edition or the standard hardware models can compete well with a variety of robust features, including thin provisioning, vDisk mirroring, FlashCopy, Metro and Global Mirror. This has the advantage that the SVC can extend these functions not just to newly purchased disk capacity, but also existing storage capacity. The newly purchased capacity can be DS3400, DS4700 or the new DS5000 models. This is great "investment protection" for small and medium sized businesses.
LTO-4 drives and automation
The Linear Tape Open (LTO) consortium--consisting of IBM, HP and Quantum--has proven wildly successful, ending the
vendor-lockin from SDLT tape. I presented the latest LTO-4 offerings, including the TS2240, TS2340, TS2900, TS3100
and TS3200. The LTO consortium has already worked out a technology roadmap for LTO-5 and LTO-6. The LTO-4 drives
support WORM cartridges and on-board hardware-based encryption. The encryption keys can be managed with IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager (TKLM).
SAN and FCoCEE switches
IBM has agreements with Brocade, Cisco and Juniper Networks for various networking gear. I focused on entry-level switches for SAN fabrics, the SAN24B-4 and Cisco 9124, as well as new equipment for Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (CEE),
including IBM's Converged Network Adapater (CNA) for System x servers, and the SAN32B switch that has 24 10GbE CEE ports and 8 FC ports that support 8/4/2 and 4/2/1 SFP transceivers. FCoE Clients that want to deploy Fibre Channel over CEE (FCoCEE) today have everything the need to get started.
The venue was the
[Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa] in Chandler, just south of Phoenix. This compound includes [Rawhide], an 1800's era Western Town attraction, a rodeo arena, and a casino still under construction.
Dinners were held nearby at the infamous
[Rustler's Rooste] Steakhouse on South mountain.
You could buy 10 liters of gasoline in Venezuela with this coin.
I'm back from South America, and am now in Chicago, Illinois. I'm having breakfast at the Starbucksdowntown, and thought I would make a post before all of my meetings today.
On this trip, I met with IBM Business Partners and sales reps from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. While I have visited thefirst three countries on past trips, this was my first time to Caracas, Venezuela. I grew up in La Paz, Bolivia, and speak Spanish fluently, so had no problemgetting around and holding discussions with everyone. While my friends in the US are oftensurprised I speak multiple languages, it doesn't surprise anyone I visit in other countries.If you are going to have worldwide job responsibilities for a global company that does businessin over 180 countries, the least you could do is learn a few additional languages. I suspect themajority of the 350,000 IBM employees speak at least two languages, the exceptions being mostly the 50,000 orso employees that live in the United States.
I flew on American Airlines from Tucson to Dallas to Caracas, and was only slightly delayed as a resultof all of the flight cancellations that happened earlier that week. Some companies designate a single "official airline" for their employees to use. That makessense if all of your employees are located in a single city, and that city is the hub for yourdesignated airline.IBM is too big, too spread out, and sells technology to nearly every airline to make sucha designation. Instead, IBM tries to spread its business out to multiple carriers, although all ofmy colleagues seems to have their own personal favorites. Mine are American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
While other people were upset over the delays, I found American Airlines did a great job keeping me informed,and all their employees I talked to seemed to be handling the situation fairly well. If youfly on American, I recommend you sign up for "text message" notifications. I did this for everyleg of my trip, and was kept up to date on times, gates and status. Very helpful!American Airlines even started their own corporate blog: [AA Conversation] (Special thanks to my friend[Paul Gillen] for pointing this out)
(I read somewhere that if you are going to travel anywhere, you need to remember to bringboth your sunscreen and your sense of humor, otherwise you are going to get burned. Goodadvice! Trust me, you don't even know how bad it can really be until you travel in the third world.)
Anyhoo, last week, IBM Venezuela celebrated its 70th anniversary. That's right, IBM has been doingbusiness in Venezuela for the past 70 years. Also last week, IBM put out its impressive [1Q08 quarterly results],including 10 percent growth for IBM System Storage product line worldwide, comparing what IBM earned this first quarter to what IBM earned the first quarter of last year. For just the Latin American countries,the growth for IBM System Storage was 20 percent!There are a lot of oil and gas companies in Venezuela. With a barrel of oil selling at more than$117 US dollars, these companies are looking to spend their newly earned profits on IBM systems, software and services.
As for the picture above, that is a one-thousand Bolivares coin, worth about 47 US cents atthis week's official exchange rate. As with many Latin American countries going through [years of high inflation], Venezuela was tired of all those zeros on their money. For example, a cheeseburger, freedom fries and a Cokeat McDonald's would set you back 20,000 Bolivares.This year the Venezuelan governmentcreated a new currency called "Bolivares Fuertes" (VEF), lopping off the last three zeros.So, the coin above would be replaced by a new coin with a big "1" on it instead, and an old 2000 Bolivares billwould be replaced by a new 2 Bolivares Fuertes bill. Unfortunately,I had to give all my new Venezuelan money back at the airport upon leaving, but they let me keep the coinabove, since it is old money, as a souvenir so that I could use it as a ball mark for playing golf.
(The term Bolivares is named after Simon Bolivar who was born in Caracas. He is famous throughoutSouth America, and was, and I am not making this up, the first president of Colombia, the secondpresident of Venezuela, the first president of Bolivia, and the sixth president of Peru. Here isthe [Wikipedia article] to learn more.)
Gasoline costs a mere 100 old Bolivares per liter.For those who don't do metric, gasoline therefore costsless than 18 cents per gallon. By comparison, in the USA, the average today was $3.47 US dollarsper gallon, of which 18.4 cents of this is Federal tax. That's right, we pay more just in taxes forgasoline than los venezolanos pay for it all.
The side effect of cheap gas is bad traffic. Everybody in Venezuela drives their own car, and nobody thinksabout the price of gasoline, carpooling, or taking public transportation, acting much like Americans used to, up until a few years ago. With some of the gridlock we faced, it might have been faster (but not safer)to walk there instead.
Which makes me wonder if American Airlines fills up their airplanes with fuel at these lower prices when theypick up people in Caracas to take them back to the United States. In 2002, fuel represented 10 percentof the average airline's operating expenses, but today it is now 25 percent. That is a drastic increase!
The same is happening in data centers. In the past, electricity was so cheap, and such a small percentof the total IT budget, nobody gave it much thought. But as the usage of electricity increased, andthe cost per KWh went up, this has a multiplying effect, and the growth in power and cooling costs isgrowing four times faster than the average IT hardware budget increase.
During the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney promised Michigan he wouldbring back all those jobs back to the Auto Industry, while his opponent,John McCain, told the audience that those jobs are gone forever, time tostart learning new skills. Mitt won the state, but lost the nomination,and perhaps this snapped him back to reality. Mitt now has a new prescription for what ails the US Auto industry--straight talk that he should have been saying during his campaign,telling people what they should hear, rather than what they wanted to hear.
Gaurav takes this argument one step further, referring to IBM's amazingturn-around back in 1993. Whereas the US Auto Industry has pushed backagainst inevitable globalization, IBM has embraced it, re-inventing itself into aGlobally Integrated Enterprise [GIE] and helping our clients do the same.I've been working for IBM since 1986, so I remember the pre-1993 IBM and how different it is now in the post-1993 era.
The marketplace has responded positively. Since 2004, more than 5,000 companies worldwide have replaced their HP, Sun, and EMC products with energy-efficient IBM Systems: Servers and Storage. Companies have invested in IBM's servers and storage to tackle their most challenging business objectives and to help reduce sprawling data center costs for labor, energy and real estate.This announcement was part of IBM's[Press Release]for its Migration Factory offering. The Migration Factory includes competitive server assessments, migration services, and other resources to help customers achieve energy and space savings and lower their cost of ownership.
Earlier this month, IBM's Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano recently outlined the possibilities of a smarter planet to the Council on Foreign Relations.Steve Lohr of the New York Times weighs in with his article [I.B.M. Has Tech Answer for Woes of Economy], and Dr. Fern Halper of Hurwitz & Associates gives her take over at [IT-Director.com].
Transcontinental flights and the[Travel Channel] have made the world smaller.Thomas Friedman argued the world has also become "flatter",thanks to advances in computers and global communication, in his 2005 book[The World is Flat].Now, IBM recognizes that InformationTechnology (I.T.) can help us solve the financial meltdown, global warming, and other major problems the world is now faced with.
How? First, our world is becoming instrumented. Sensors, RFID tags and other equipmentare now inexpensive and readily available to be placed wherever they are needed. Second, our world is becoming more interconnected. We are closely approaching two billion internet users andfour billion mobile subscribers, andthese can connect to the trillions of RFID tags, sensors and other instrumentation. Third,our world needs to get more intelligent. Not just US auto workers learning new skills,but all these instruments providing information that can be acted on with intelligentalgorithms. Algorithms can help with automobile traffic in large cities, enhance energyexploration, or improve healthcare.
This week is Thanksgiving holiday in the USA, so I thought a good theme would be things I am thankful for.
I'll start with saying that I am thankful EMC has finally announcedAtmos last week. This was the "Maui" part of the Hulk/Maui rumors we heard over a year ago. To quickly recap, Atmos is EMC's latest storage offeringfor global-scale storage intended for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads. Atmos can be sold as just software, or combined with Infiniflex,EMC's bulk, high-density commodity disk storage systems. Atmos supports traditionalNFS/CIFS file-level access, as well as SOAP/REST object protocols.
I'm thankful for various reasons, here's a quick list:
It's hard to compete against "vaporware"
Back in the 1990s, IBM was trying to sell its actual disk systems against StorageTek's rumored "Iceberg" project. It took StorageTek some four years to get this project out,but in the meantime, we were comparing actual versus possibility. The main feature iswhat we now call "Thin Provisioning". Ironically, StorageTek's offering was not commercially successful until IBM agreed to resell this as the IBM RAMAC Virtual Array (RVA).
Until last week, nobody knew the full extent of what EMC was going to deliver on the many Hulk/Maui theories. Severalhinted as to what it could have been, and I am glad to see that Atmos falls short of those rumored possibilities. This is not to say that Atmos can't reach its potential, and certainly some of the design is clever, such as offering native SOAP/REST access.
Instead, IBM now can compare Atmos/Infiniflex directly to the features and capabilities of IBM's Scale Out File Services [SoFS], which offers a global-scale multi-site namespace with policy-based data movement, IBM System Storage Multilevel Grid Access Manager[GAM] that manages geographical distrubuted information,and IBM [XIV Storage System] that offers high-density bulk storage.
Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads justify new storage architectures
When I presented SoFS and XIV earlier this year, I mentioned they were designed forthe fast-growing Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads that were unique enough to justify their own storage architectures. One criticism was that SoFS appeared to duplicate what could be achieved with dozens of IBM N series NAS boxes connected with Virtual File Manager (VFM). Why invent a new offering with a new architecture?
With the Atmos announcement, EMC now agrees with IBM that the Web 2.0 and DigitalArchive workloads represent a unique enough "use case" to justify a new approach.
New offerings for new workloads will not impact existing offerings for existing workloads
I find it amusing that EMC is quickly defending that Atmos will not eat into its DMXbusiness, which is exactly the FUD they threw out about IBM XIV versus DS8000 earlier this year. In reality, neither the DS8000 nor the DMX were used much for Web 2.0 andDigital Archive workloads in the past. Companies like Google, Amazon and others hadto either build their own from piece parts, or use low-cost midrange disk systems.
Rather, the DS8000 and DMX can now focus on the workloads they were designed for,such as database applications on mainframe servers.
Cloud-Oriented Storage (COS)
Just when you thought we had enough terminology already, EMC introduces yet another three-letter acronym [TLA]. Kudos to EMC for coining phrases to help move newconcepts forward.
Now, when an RFP asks for Cloud-oriented storage, I am thankful this phrase will help serve as a trigger for IBM to lead with SoFS and XIV storage offerings.
Digital archives are different than Compliance Archives
EMC was also quick to point out that object-storage Atmos was different from theirobject-storage EMC Centera. The former being for "digital archives" and the latter for"compliance archives". Different workloads, Different use cases, different offerings.
Ever since IBM introduced its [IBM System Storage DR550] several years ago, EMC Centera has been playing catch-up to match IBM'smany features and capabilities. I am thankful the Centera team was probably too busy to incorporate Atmos capabilities, so it was easier to make Atmos a separate offering altogether. This allows the IBM DR550 to continue to compete against Centera's existingfeature set.
Micro-RAID arrays, logical file and object-level replication
I am thankful that one of the Atmos policy-based feature is replicating individualobjects, rather than LUN-based replication and protection. SoFS supports this forlogical files regardless of their LUN placement, GAM supports replication of files and medical images across geographical sites in the grid, and the XIV supports this for 1MBchunks regardless of their hard disk drive placement. The 1MB chunk size was basedon the average object size from established Web 2.0 and DigitalArchive workloads.
I tried to explain the RAID-X capability of the XIV back in January, under muchcriticism that replication should only be done at the LUN level. I amthankful that Marc Farley on StorageRap coined the phrase[Micro-RAID array] to helpmove this new concept further. Now, file-level, object-level and chunk-level replication can be considered mainstream.
Much larger minimum capacity increments
The original XIV in January was 51TB capacity per rack, and this went up to 79TB per rack for the most recent IBM XIV Release 2 model. Several complained that nobody would purchase disk systems at such increments. Certainly, small and medium size businessesmay not consider XIV for that reason.
I am thankful Atmos offers 120TB, 240TB and 360TB sizes. The companies that purchasedisk for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads do purchase disk capacity in these large sizes. Service providers add capacity to the "Cloud" to support many of theirend-clients, and so purchasing disk capacity to rent back out represents revenue generating opportunity.
Renewed attention on SOAP and REST protocols
IBM and Microsoft have been pushing SOA and Web Services for quite some time now.REST, which stands for [Representational State Transfer] allows static and dynamic HTML message passing over standard HTTP.SOAP, which was originally [Simple Object Access Protocol], and then later renamed to "Service Oriented Architecture Protocol", takes this one step further, allowingdifferent applications to send "envelopes" containing messages and data betweenapplications using HTTP, RPC, SMTP and a variety of other underlying protocols.Typically, these messages are simple text surrounded by XML tags, easily stored asfiles, or rows in databases, and served up by SOAP nodes as needed.
It's hard to show leadership until there are followers
IBM's leadership sometimes goes unnoticed until followerscreate "me, too!" offerings or establish similar business strategies. IBM's leadership in Cloud and Grid computing is no exception.Atmos is the latest me-too product offering in this space, trying pretty muchto address the same challenges that SoFS and XIV were designed for.
So, perhaps EMC is thankful that IBM has already paved the way, breaking throughthe ice on their behalf. I am thankful that perhaps I won't have to deal with as much FUD about SoFS, GAM and XIV anymore.
Wrapping up this week's theme of thankfulness, I am thankful for theOne Laptop Per Child [OLPC] and their Get-One-Give-One (G1G1)offer.
Last November, I was one of the first to [sign up for the G1G1],and when mine arrived December 24, I posted initial observations in this[OLPC series].Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of helping out teams in Nepal and Uruguay,collaborating with developers in France, India and the United States. Giving back to othershas been a richly rewarding experience for me. I made some new friends, built up newprofessional contacts, and learned some new tricks as well.
Last year's G1G1 offer was limited to US and Canada, but this year, the OLPC have enlisted [Amazon.com] and made the offer available worldwide. You can choose to either give a single laptop for $199 USD, or get two laptops, get one for yourself or your family, and give the other to someone like Zimi, for $399 USD.
I'm thankful I did. Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers in the USA!
In explaining the word "archive" we came up with two separate Japanese words. One was "katazukeru", and the other was "shimau". If you are clearing the dinner plates from the table after your meal, for example, it could be done for two reasons. Both words mean "to put away", but the motivation that drives this activity changes the word usage. The first reason, katazukeru, is because the table is important, you need the table to be empty or less cluttered to use it for something else, perhaps play some card game, work on arts and craft, or pay your bills. The second reason, shimau, is because the plates are important, perhaps they are your best tableware, used only for holidays or special occasions only, and you don't want to risk having them broken. As it turns out, IBM supports both senses of the word archive. We offer "space management" when the space on the table, (or disk or database), is more important, so older low-access data can be moved off to less expensive disk or tape. We also offer "data retention" where the data itself is valuable, and must be kept on WORM or non-erasable, non-rewriteable storage to meet business or government regulatory compliance.
The process of archiving your data from primary disk to alternate storage media can satisfy both motivations.
IBM offers software specifically to help with this archival process.For email archive, IBM offers [IBM CommonStore] for Lotus Domino and MicrosoftExchange. For database archive, including support for various ERP and CRM applications, IBM offers [IBM Optim] from the acquisition of Princeton Softech.
The problems occur when companies, under the excuse of simplification or consolidation, feel they can just usetheir backups as archives. They are taking daily backups of their email repositories and databases, and keepingthese for seven to ten years. But what happens when their legal e-discovery team needs to find all emails or database records related to a particular situation, an employee, client or account? Good luck! Most backupsare not indexed for this purpose, so storage admins are stuck restoring many different backups to temporary storage and combing through the files in hopes to find the right data.
Backups are intended for operational recovery of data that is lost or corrupted as a result of hardware failures, application defects, or human error. Disk mirroring or remote replication might help with hardware failures, but any logical deletion or corruption of data is immediately duplicated, so it is not a complete solution. FlashCopy or Snapshot point-in-time copies are useful to go back a short time to recover from logical failures, but since they are usually on the same hardware as the original copies, may not protect against hardware failures. And then there's tape, and while many people malign tape as a backup storage choice, 71 percent of customers send backups to tape, according to a 2007 Forrester Research report.
Backups often aren't viable unless restored to the same hardware platform, with the same operating system and application software to make sense of the ones and zeros. For this reason, people typically only keep two to five backup versions, for no more than 30 days, to support operational recovery scenarios. If you make updatesto your hardware, OS or application software, be sure to remember to take fresh new backups, as the old backupsmay no longer apply.
Archives are different. Often, these are copies that have been "hardened" or "fossilized" so that they make sense even if the original hardware, OS or application software is unavailable. They might be indexed so that they can be searched, so that you only have to retrieve exactly the data you are looking for. Finally, they are often stored with "rendering tools" that are able to display the data using your standard web browser, eliminating the need to have a fully working application environment.
Take any backup you might have from five years ago and try to retrieve the information. Can you do it? This might be a real eye-opener. You might have inherited this backup-as-also-archive approach from someone else, and are trying to figure out what to do differently that makes more sense. Call IBM, we can help.
Guy Kawasaki is hosting a Web Conference next week on The Art of Evangelism.By this he is referring to promoting products and services, rather than the traditionaldefinition: the preaching or promulgation of the gospel.
A few years ago, I myself had the official title of "Technical Evangelist" for the IBM System Storageproduct line. I never liked the title, and asked to use something else, but since I was part of ateam of "Technical Evangelists," I had to keep it. A lot of companies were using this as a title,I was told, and everyone knew that it was not a religious reference, but a marketing one.
Sometimes, words do not translate well into other countries or cultures. Four years ago, on theweek of September 11, 2003, I traveled to Kuwait, Qatar and UAE for a business trip to present thelatest on our storage products. On arrival in Kuwait, I had to fill out my "visa application" to enterthe country, and it asked for my "occupation/title" but there were not enough spaces to write "Technical Evangelist" so I just entered "Evangelist".
The two Kuwaitis behind the desk looked it up in their Arabic/English dictionary, discussed it, andweren't sure if they should shoot me, or take me to the back room to video tape my proper be-heading. Our official hostcame over to ask what was the delay, and they showed her the dictionary translation. She asked me,"Why would you put Evangelist as your title?" So, I gave her my business card, and told herthat my full title of Technical Evangelist did not fit in the space provided.
She explained to the two behind the desk that I had misunderstood the question, and misspelled theactual word intended was "Engineer". She showed them the agenda of the IBM Technical Conference I wasspeaking at, and the list of Oil and Construction companies that were attending. They looked upthe new title "Engineer", and agreed the translation was suitable for entry, and that these two words,Evangelist and Engineer, used enough similar letters they could understand how one might misspell one for the other.
Our limo took a small detour to the middle of the desert so that we could burn and bury the ashes of the remainder of my business cards, before arriving to the hotel. All of my powerpoint slides that listed my title were changed to "Technical Engineer". The events themselves went very well,as IT people are the same all over the world, and had no problem setting aside religious or politicaldifferences in an effort to learn more about technology.
When I got back to the United States, I shared my experience with my fellow team-mates, most of whom never leavethe country, and would never have thought this might happen. Management agreed to let us change our titles.That was good for me, as I had to order a new box of business cards anyways.
Last year, I became "Manager of Brand Marketing Strategy" of the IBM System Storage product line.Now on business trips I just write "Manager" on the Occupation/Title line. It fits in every form I have ever had to fill, and translates properly into every language.
Now that the frozen economy is starting to thaw, I have been traveling like crazy this month. So far, I have been to Rochester, MN, Los Angeles and San Diego, CA, and now currently in Austin, TX. On the plus side, I was able to enjoy the [Fourth of July] holiday weekend on the beaches of San Diego.
(If you have not been to California beaches lately, here's a quick [video] reminder)
So the big news this week is that the auction over Data Domain is over, and EMC's bid finally won over NetApp. Both NetApp and EMC have data deduplication capabilities in their existing product lines, but neither could compete against IBM's TS7650G ProtecTIER Data Deduplication gateway and TS7650 ProtecTIER appliances, and so were hell-bent to buy Data Domain for large amounts. The final price agreed upon was over two billion US dollars for Data Domain.
For the most part, Data Domain's products are targeted towards small and medium sized businesses, whereas IBM's TS7650 and TS7650G products targets medium and larger sized enterprises.So now that EMC has a viable data deduplication solution, it looks like it will be yet another IBM-vs-EMC debate going forward.
A client asked me to explain "Nearline storage" to them. This was easy, I thought, as I started my IBM career on DFHSM, now known as DFSMShsm for z/OS, which was created in 1977 to support the IBM 3850 Mass Storage System (MSS), a virtual storage system that blended disk drives and tape cartridges with robotic automation. Here is a quick recap:
Online storage is immediately available for I/O. This includes DRAM memory, solid-state drives (SSD), and always-on spinning disk, regardless of rotational speed.
Nearline storage is not immediately available, but can be made online quickly without human intervention. This includes optical jukeboxes, automated tape libraries, as well as spin-down massive array of idle disk (MAID) technologies.
Offline storage is not immediately available, and requires some human intervention to bring online. This can include USB memory sticks, CD/DVD optical media, shelf-resident tape cartridges, or other removable media.
Sadly, it appears a few storage manufacturers and vendors have been misusing the term "Nearline" to refer to "slower online" spinning disk drives. I find this [June 2005 technology paper from Seagate], and this [2002 NetApp Press Release], the latter of which included this contradiction for their "NearStore" disk array. Here is the excerpt:
"Providing online access to reference information—NetApp nearline storage solutions quickly retrieve and replicate reference and archive information maintained on cost-effective storage—medical images, financial models, energy exploration charts and graphs, and other data-intensive records can be stored economically and accessed in multiple locations more quickly than ever"
Which is it, "online access" or "nearline storage"?
If a client asked why slower drives consume less energy or generate less heat, I could explain that, but if they ask why slower drives must have SATA connections, that is a different discussion. The speed of a drive and its connection technology are for the most part independent. A 10K RPM drive can be made with FC, SAS or SATA connection.
I am opposed to using "Nearlne" just to distinguish between four-digit speeds (such as 5400 or 7200 RPM) versus "online" for five-digit speeds (10,000 and 15,000 RPM). The difference in performance between 10K RPM and 7200 RPM spinning disks is miniscule compared to the differences between solid-state drives and any spinning disk, or the difference between spinning disk and tape.
I am also opposed to using the term "Nearline" for online storage systems just because they are targeted for the typical use cases like backup, archive or other reference information that were previously directed to nearline devices like automated tape libraries.
Can we all just agree to refer to drives as "fast" or "slow", or give them RPM rotational speed designations, rather than try to incorrectly imply that FC and SAS drives are always fast, and SATA drives are always slow? Certainly we don't need new terms like "NL-SAS" just to represent a slower SAS connected drive.
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.
A long time ago, perhaps in the early 1990s, I was an architect on the component known today as DFSMShsm on z/OS mainframe operationg system. One of my job responsibilities was to attend the biannual [SHARE conference to listen to the requirements of the attendees on what they would like added or changed to the DFSMS, and ask enough questions so that I can accurately present the reasoning to the rest of the architects and software designers on my team. One person requested that the DFSMShsm RELEASE HARDCOPY should release "all" the hardcopy. This command sends all the activity logs to the designated SYSOUT printer. I asked what he meant by "all", and the entire audience of 120 some attendees nearly fell on the floor laughing. He complained that some clever programmer wrote code to test if the activity log contained only "Starting" and "Ending" message, but no error messages, and skip those from being sent to SYSOUT. I explained that this was done to save paper, good for the environment, and so on. Again, howls of laughter. Most customers reroute the SYSOUT from DFSMS from a physical printer to a logical one that saves the logs as data sets, with date and time stamps, so having any "skipped" leaves gaps in the sequence. The client wanted a complete set of data sets for his records. Fair enough.
When I returned to Tucson, I presented the list of requests, and the immediate reaction when I presented the one above was, "What did he mean by ALL? Doesn't it release ALL of the logs already?" I then had to recap our entire dialogue, and then it all made sense to the rest of the team. At the following SHARE conference six months later, I was presented with my own official "All" tee-shirt that listed, and I am not kidding, some 33 definitions for the word "all", in small font covering the front of the shirt.
I am reminded of this story because of the challenges explaining complicated IT concepts using the English language which is so full of overloaded words that have multiple meanings. Take for example the word "protect". What does it mean when a client asks for a solution or system to "protect my data" or "protect my information". Let's take a look at three different meanings:
The first meaning is to protect the integrity of the data from within, especially from executives or accountants that might want to "fudge the numbers" to make quarterly results look better than they are, or to "change the terms of the contract" after agreements have been signed. Clients need to make sure that the people authorized to read/write data can be trusted to do so, and to store data in Non-Erasable, Non-Rewriteable (NENR) protected storage for added confidence. NENR storage includes Write-Once, Read-Many (WORM) tape and optical media, disk and disk-and-tape blended solutions such as the IBM Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) and IBM Information Archive integrated system.
The second meaning is to protect access from without, especially hackers or other criminals that might want to gather personally-identifiably information (PII) such as social security numbers, health records, or credit card numbers and use these for identity theft. This is why it is so important to encrypt your data. As I mentioned in my post [Eliminating Technology Trade-Offs], IBM supports hardware-based encryption FDE drives in its IBM System Storage DS8000 and DS5000 series. These FDE drives have an AES-128 bit encryption built-in to perform the encryption in real-time. Neither HDS or EMC support these drives (yet). Fellow blogger Hu Yoshida (HDS) indicates that their USP-V has implemented data-at-rest in their array differently, using backend directors instead. I am told EMC relies on the consumption of CPU-cycles on the host servers to perform software-based encryption, either as MIPS consumed on the mainframe, or using their Powerpath multi-pathing driver on distributed systems.
There is also concern about internal employees have the right "need-to-know" of various research projects or upcoming acquisitions. On SANs, this is normally handled with zoning, and on NAS with appropriate group/owner bits and access control lists. That's fine for LUNs and files, but what about databases? IBM's DB2 offers Label-Based Access Control [LBAC] that provides a finer level of granularity, down to the row or column level. For example, if a hospital database contained patient information, the doctors and nurses would not see the columns containing credit card details, the accountants would not see the columnts containing healthcare details, and the individual patients, if they had any access at all, would only be able to access the rows related to their own records, and possibly the records of their children or other family members.
The third meaning is to protect against the unexpected. There are lots of ways to lose data: physical failure, theft or even incorrect application logic. Whatever the way, you can protect against this by having multiple copies of the data. You can either have multiple copies of the data in its entirety, or use RAID or similar encoding scheme to store parts of the data in multiple separate locations. For example, with RAID-5 rank containing 6+P+S configuration, you would have six parts of data and one part parity code scattered across seven drives. If you lost one of the disk drives, the data can be rebuilt from the remaining portions and written to the spare disk set aside for this purpose.
But what if the drive is stolen? Someone can walk up to a disk system, snap out the hot-swappable drive, and walk off with it. Since it contains only part of the data, the thief would not have the entire copy of the data, so no reason to encrypt it, right? Wrong! Even with part of the data, people can get enough information to cause your company or customers harm, lose business, or otherwise get you in hot water. Encryption of the data at rest can help protect against unauthorized access to the data, even in the case when the data is scattered in this manner across multiple drives.
To protect against site-wide loss, such as from a natural disaster, fire, flood, earthquake and so on, you might consider having data replicated to remote locations. For example, IBM's DS8000 offers two-site and three-site mirroring. Two-site options include Metro Mirror (synchronous) and Global Mirror (asynchronous). The three-site is cascaded Metro/Global Mirror with the second site nearby (within 300km) and the third site far away. For example, you can have two copies of your data at site 1, a third copy at nearby site 2, and two more copies at site 3. Five copies of data in three locations. IBM DS8000 can send this data over from one box to another with only a single round trip (sending the data out, and getting an acknowledgment back). By comparison, EMC SRDF/S (synchronous) takes one or two trips depending on blocksize, for example blocks larger than 32KB require two trips, and EMC SRDF/A (asynchronous) always takes two trips. This is important because for many companies, disk is cheap but long-distance bandwidth is quite expensive. Having five copies in three locations could be less expensive than four copies in four locations.
Fellow blogger BarryB (EMC Storage Anarchist) felt I was unfair pointing out that their EMC Atmos GeoProtect feature only protects against "unexpected loss" and does not eliminate the need for encryption or appropriate access control lists to protect against "unauthorized access" or "unethical tampering".
(It appears I stepped too far on to ChuckH's lawn, as his Rottweiler BarryB came out barking, both in the [comments on my own blog post], as well as his latest titled [IBM dumbs down IBM marketing (again)]. Before I get another rash of comments, I want to emphasize this is a metaphor only, and that I am not accusing BarryB of having any canine DNA running through his veins, nor that Chuck Hollis has a lawn.)
As far as I know, the EMC Atmos does not support FDE disks that do this encryption for you, so you might need to find another way to encrypt the data and set up the appropriate access control lists. I agree with BarryB that "erasure codes" have been around for a while and that there is nothing unsafe about using them in this manner. All forms of RAID-5, RAID-6 and even RAID-X on the IBM XIV storage system can be considered a form of such encoding as well. As for the amount of long-distance bandwidth that Atmos GeoProtect would consume to provide this protection against loss, you might question any cost savings from this space-efficient solution. As always, you should consider both space and bandwidth costs in your total cost of ownership calculations.
Of course, if saving money is your main concern, you should consider tape, which can be ten to twenty times cheaper than disk, affording you to keep a dozen or more copies, in as many time zones, at substantially lower cost. These can be encrypted and written to WORM media for even more thorough protection.
Of course, he is focused on the home user, and not the bigger mess found in the corporate world, where Federal Rules like the one past last week that begin to mandate that all U.S. companies archive every e-mail and instant message (IM) generated by their employees.
However, the article does bring up issues that effect the corporate world as well. Its not the "format" as much as the medium/player interface. A friend of mine just bought a vintage 8-track-tape player, but has only one 8-track tape to try it out with. He is now looking on eBay for other 8-track tapes.
The idea of keeping old drives around to read back data is not new. A company called eMag Solutions has all kinds of older tape drives to help companiesretrieve data on their older 3420 and 3480 tape cartridges.
The problem is not just accessing the data on the media, but rendering the "ones" and "zeros" into meaningful information. For example, suppose I saved a copy of my Quicken Tax file every year, and copied them onto a singleDVD for long term storage. The problem is that to access 2002 tax data, I have to run that version of the Quicken 2002 program, and hopefully that version will run on my current computer equipment and operating system.
A client I visited earlier this year had to retrieve 4-year-old Oracle data for litigation reasons. However, to make sense of the data, they had to build a server with a down-level version of AIX and down-level version of Oracle to match the level supported by their homegrown application.
One solution might be to find a new format that is application-independent. Flat text files, Adobe PDF format, MP3 audio files, HTML pages, and JPEG photo images are often used to avoid the requirement of special applications to make sense of the data.Unfortunately, in some countries, the laws actually dictate that business must keep their data in the original "digital format". So, if it was a MS WORD v1 document, it must be kept in v1 format, even though today's WORD 2002 can't even make sense of it, and you have to go to IBM or some other third party that have "rendering tools" that understand these older formats.
Luckily, for the corporate world, IBM has a lot of experience in this area, is the leader in Content Management, offers the world's fastest archive/compliance storage, the DR550, clocked at three times faster than the EMC Centera, WORM tape on LTO Generation 3 and 3592 tape cartridges, and software designed to render older formats into readable form.
For the home user, IBM's recent "Innovation Jam" identified this as one of the top 10 ideas, the idea of "Digital Me", storing not just old tax documents, but photos, music, home videos, and so on. My aunt Nancy passed away, leaving me a box of old VHS tapes, which I will watch this month as I sort through all my paper receipts getting ready to file for 2006 taxes.
Continuing my business trip through Canada, an article by Richard Blackwell titled [The Double Bottom Line] yesterday's Globe and Mail newspaper caught my attention.Here is an excerpt, citing Tim Brodhead, president of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation in Montreal:
The bottom line for any business is making a profit, right?
But how about considering a different, or additional bottom line: helping make the world a better place to live in.
That's the radical proposition underlying the concept of "social entrepreneurship," the harnessing of business skills for the benefit of the disadvantaged.
Young investors, in particular, now want their investments to produce both financial and social returns, he noted.
Until recently, "we could either make a donation [to a charity] and get zero financial return, or we could invest and get zero social return." People now want more of both, but rules governing charities and business make that tough to accomplish.
One stumbling block is the imperative - entrenched in corporate law - that managers and directors of for-profit companies have a fiduciary duty to maximize profits. That structure is a brick wall that limits the expansion of social entrepreneurship, Mr. Brodhead said.
Some companies have embraced the new paradigm of a double bottom line, even if they are uncomfortable with the "social entrepreneur" label.
This fiduciary duty to maximize profits is discussed in the 2003 documentary[Corporation]. However, some organizations are now trying to aligntheir goals, finding ways to benefit their investers, as well as society overall. For example, organization [ONE.org] helped launch [Product (RED)]:
If you buy a (RED) product from GAP, Motorola, Armani, Converse or Apple, they will give up to 50% of their profit to buy AIDS drugs for mothers and children in Africa. (RED) is the consumer battalion gathering in the shopping malls. You buy the jeans, phones, iPods, shoes, sunglasses, and someone - somebody’s mother, father, daughter or son - will live instead of dying in the poorest part of the world. It’s a different kind of fashion statement.
The company, which has operated in Africa for nearly six decades, expects to increase its investment by more than $US120 million (more than R820 million) over the next two years. In the coming year, IBM expects to hire up to 100 students from Sub-Saharan universities to meet the growing demand in services, global delivery and software development.
"The Sub-Saharan African market is poised for double-digit growth flowing from the development and expansion of telecommunications networks, power grids and transport infrastructure," said Mark Harris, Managing Director, IBM South and Central Africa. "Private and public sector investment in the region is transforming the ability of the market to participate in the global economy."
A recent IBM Global Innovation Outlook (GIO) [report on Africa] indicates that the economies ofdozens of African nations are growing at healthy rates, the best in the past 30 years, with 5.5 to 5.8 percent averageacross the continent. This supports last month's news that [Top IBM thinkers to mentor African students]:
Hundreds of IBM scientists and researchers will mentor college students in Africa. Called Makocha Minds (after the Swahili word for "teacher"), the program will reach hundreds of computer science, engineering and mathematics students.
Makocha Minds is an off-shoot of IBM’s Global Innovation Outlook, an annual symposium of top government, business and academic leaders that uncovers new opportunities for business and societal innovation. "African students need to be trained in entrepreneurship so that they get out there and not just make jobs for themselves but create opportunities to employ others as well,” said Athman Fadhili, a graduate student at the University of Nairobi (Kenya).
Most of the mentoring will be via email and online collaboration.
Mentoring via email and online collaboration is very reasonable. I have mentored both high school and collegestudents through a partnership between IBM Tucson and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers[SHPE]. While thekids were all located in Tucson, I rarely am, traveling nearly every week, but I madetime for the kids via email and online collaboration wherever I happened to be.
To make this work, we need to get email and online collaboration in the hands who need them.I got my email thanking me for being a "first day donor" to the One Laptop Per Child "Give 1 Get 1" (G1G1) project,and have added this "badge" to the right panel of my blog. If you click on the badge, you will be takento a series of YouTube videos that further describe the project.
According to the email my donated XO laptop will soon be delivered into the hands of a child in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti, Mongolia or Rwanda.
How do these work? Instead of buying your uncle yet another $25 necktie, consider buying a $25 Kiva certificate.The $25 dollar "micro loan" goes to someone in the third world to improve their situation, start a business, geta job, and so on, and you give your uncle a Kiva certificate so that he can track the progress. I think that isvery clever and innovative.
As you can imagine, I get a lot of email from around the world. This one, from a loyal reader from overseas, was particularly interesting. Normally, I would direct them to read the fantastic manual [RTFM], but decided instead to go ahead and tackle it here in my blog.
I follow your blog for several years, it has served as a reference and training for me in my professional career and I want to thank you.
I am writing because my company has acquired a new IBM Storwize V7000 Gen2 to replace a Gen1, with 16 FC ports, 8 ports per controller node and 8-port FC FlashSystem 900. The idea is to virtualize the V7000 storage part Flash900 and other hand assign directly to the host directly. After much reading on forums and storage Redbooks I have nothing clear as it should be wiring the SAN or as zoning would be made to carry out this installation. I would appreciate if you can write on this subject as controversial as seems to be the zoning and wiring SAN and if possible be clarified by me onstage.
I will tackle this in three steps.
First, let's attach "Server 1" and the FlashSystem 900 to the SAN fabric. IBM Spectrum Virtualize can handle one, two or even four separate fabrics. Let's assume you have a dual-port Host Bus Adapter (HBA) in server 1, and two redundant fabrics. We will connect each server port to each FCP switch. Likewise, we will connect each FCP switch to the FlashSystem 900, carve up "Volume 1", and create SAN "Zone A1" and "Zone A2", which identify "Server 1" as the initiator, and "FlashSystem 900" as the target. This is all basic stuff.
"All Storwize V7000 Gen2 nodes in the Storwize V7000 Gen2 clustered system are connected
to the same SANs, and they present volumes to the hosts. These volumes are created from
storage pools that are composed of mDisks presented by the disk subsystems.
The fabric must have three distinct zones:
Storwize V7000 Gen2 cluster system zones
Create one cluster zone per fabric, and include any port per node that is designated for
intra-cluster traffic. No more than four ports per node should be allocated to intra-cluster
Create a host zone for each server host bus adapter (HBA) port accessing Storwize
Create one Storwize V7000 Gen2 storage zone for each storage system that is
virtualized by the Storwize V7000 Gen2. Some storage control systems need two
separate zones (one per controller) so that they do not 'see' each other."
Second, we connect the Storwize V7000 Gen2 to the FCP switches. You don't need to connect all of the ports, but I recommend that you have each controller node to each FCP switch, requiring four cables. Add more connections for added performance bandwidth.
Carve up "Volume 2" and this will be referred to as a "managed disk", mDisk for short, and create a "storage pool" which were formerly known as a "managed disk group" which is why you often see MDG in the naming conventions and examples. Storage pools can have one or more managed disks, and you can add more dynamically as needed.
The "storage zone" indicates the Storwize V7000 Gen2 as the initiator, and the FlashSystem 900 as target. If you want to increase the performance bandwidth, consider more cables between the FCP switches and the FlashSystem 900. We create "Zone B1" and "Zone B2". I recommend a separate "storage zones" for each additional storage system that you choose to attach to the Storwize V7000 Gen2.
The "cluster zone" that connects all of the Storwize V7000 Gen2 node ports together for node-to-node (intra-cluster) communication. Storwize V7000 Gen2 ports can serve as both initiators and targets dynamically. For example, when you write to one node, the node then copies the cache block over to the second node so there are two copies stored safely on separate nodes. Since we have two fabrics, we create "Zone C1" and "Zone C2".
Third, we connect "Server 2" to FCP switches, same as we did with "Server 1". We create "Volume 3" which is a "virtual disk, or vDisk for short, from the storage pool containing Volume 2. The "host zone"indicates Server 2 as the initiator, and Storwize V7000 Gen2 as the target. We create "Zone D1" and "Zone D2". I recommend putting each additional server in its own set of host zones.
In theory, you could have a server connected to both Volume 1 and Volume 3. For example, a Windows server would have a "C:" drive connected directly to FlashSystem 900 for high-speed performance, and have a "D:" drive on Storwize V7000 Gen2 to contain data. The Storwize V7000 Gen2 introduces 60 to 100 microseconds of added latency, but provides added value such as FlashCopy, Thin Provisioning, and Real-time compression.
Of course, there are unique situations that might require special configurations, depending on the servers, operating systems, host bus adapters, FCP switches, and storage systems involved.
I am pleased with the turn-out we had attending last week for my Infoboom Webinar on [The Future of Storage]. The 55-minute replay is available on Infoboom, and the slide deck can be downloaded from the [IBM Expert Network].
I mentioned that I was going to Indianapolis and Boston next week to give lectures on this topic. Here are the details:
Indianapolis - September 7, 2011
The Future of Storage with Tony Pearson Luncheon Briefing
Harry & Izzy's
153 South Illinois Street
Indianapolis, IN 46225
Time: 11am to 1:30pm
Boston - September 8, 2011
The Future of Storage with Tony Pearson Briefing and Networking Reception
The Capital Grille
10 Wayside Road
Burlington, MA 01803
Time: 4:30pm to 6:30pm
I will also be in San Francisco for Oracle OpenWorld (Oct 2-6), Auckland New Zealand (Nov 9-11), and Melbourne Australia (Nov 15-17).
Back in October, Daryl Pereira asked me for an interview about my blog. I get a lot of these requests, but this one was different. Daryl is on the IBM DeveloperWorks team, and he was going to interview me to for the "Great Mind Challenge". This is a fun competition for a group of about 100 college students from San Jose State University to get them to learn blogging best practices and techniques.
This was the one post that put me into the #1 position, with over 70,000 hits so far and counting, and that does not include all the people who read my blog through feed readers or the various cross-postings on IBM Storage Community and IBM Virtual Briefing Center.
This blog post was part of a series on IBM Watson, the computer that beat two humans on the "Jeapoardy!" television game show. Having worked closely with the IBM Research scientists to understand how IBM Watson worked so that I could blog about it, I thought a good way for readers to appreciate how it was put together was to explain how to assemble a scaled-down version. My inspiration was an article by John Pultorak that explained [how to build your own Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) in your basement].
The blog post series proved to be a big hit. IBM Watson helps to demonstrate many modern computer techniques, including business analytics of Big Data, Cloud Computing, and parallel programming techniques such as Hadoop. Showing that a "Watson Jr." could be built in your basement helped to emphasize that IBM Watson was made from hardware and software that are generally available today.
I am very proud of this blog post. I worked with Moshe Yanai and the rest of the XIV team to be completely accurate and correct to set the right level of expectations. So many false statements and FUD had been thrown out about what would happen if a double drive failure happened during the short 30 minute window of opportunity, and it turns out that in most cases, no data is lost, and in all other cases, the lost data can be easily identified and restored. In most cases, this will be less recovery required than a double drive failure on a traditional RAID-5 disk array.
It was also an opportunity to try out Animoto to create a short and simple video. Normally, when marketing needs a video made, it will cost 25,000 dollars USD or more, and take weeks to produce. I was able to get this video done in just a few hours with no out-of-pocket expenses.
After this post, nearly all FUD in the blogosphere about double drive failures disappeared. More importantly, the XIV sales that quarter (2Q2010) was substantially better than the prior quarter. Many XIV sales reps credit this blog post for that huge bump in XIV sales! I guess this could be the Tony Pearson equivalent of the [Colbert Bump].
In 2009 and 2010, I was the third most influential blogger on IBM's Developerworks, and now in 2011, I have risen to number one position! Internally, we call this "Winning the Devy" (like an Emmy, but for DeveloperWorks bloggers). I would like to thank all my readers for continuing to share in the conversation!
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.
This week, Allyson Klein, Director of Technical Leadership Marketing from Intel, interviewed me for the Intel® [Chip Chat podcast] to promote the upcoming [IBM Edge conference] to be held June 4-8 in Orlando, Florida. Intel is a big sponsor of the conference. The podcast is only about 8 minutes long. Enjoy!