Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Systems Client Experience Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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Last year, in my post [Inaugural Brand Impact 2007 Awards], I mentioned how IBM beat out other major storage vendors for the best brand "IBM System Storage". I am proud of this, and highlighted it as one of my team's key accomplishments during my brief20-month career in marketing, which I recapped in my post[Switching Over from What and Why] when I switched over to consulting.
This year, IBM did it again. For a second consecutive year, IBM System Storage was recognized by [Liquid Agency]as the leading brand for enterprise storage. Here is an excerpt from the [IBM Press Release]:
"IBM System Storage is the most trusted storage portfolio in the world, providing our clients leading disk, tape and storage software solutions and services. This award reflects IBM's priority in delivering information infrastructure solutions to solve our client's most critical storage challenges," said Barry Rudolph, Vice President, IBM System Storage. "We are helping clients -- from large corporations to small businesses -- intelligently manage information as a strategic business asset. We are proud to be recognized as the clear market leader in delivering solutions that help our clients manage and extract value from their information."
Liquid Agency reviewed over 250 technology brands to make this assessment.
The Business/IT Alignment category is critical for many companies; getting these two key divisions in sync provides a huge competitive advantage. This year’s winner – by a landslide – is IBM's [Innov8].
This Big Blue product has a touch of the sci-fi to it: it’s an interactive, 3-D business simulator intended to close the divide between IT staff and business executives. In other words, it’s…a video game. I guarantee you that in all the decades that Datamation has done its Product of the Year awards, never has a video game won. The times they are a-changin’.
Whether a server is the “best” server is, in truth, based on your company’s individual needs and budgets. In the server world, with its myriad options and add-ons, one size definitely does not fit all. That said, IBM p 570 Server must fit plenty of needs; the box easily won the Enterprise Server category. IBM claims this workhorse doubles the speed of its predecessor without requiring a larger energy footprint.
IBM Lotus Symphony
When it comes to total numbers of users, there’s no question that Microsoft Office is the 800-pound gorilla of this category. The deeply entrenched Office makes the corporate world go ‘round. Given Office’s status, it’s a major eyebrow raiser that this category was won by relative newcomer IBM Lotus Symphony. Perhaps it’s because Big Blue’s product is free (that always helps), or because IBM is itself such an established vendor. Whatever the case, consider this vote as a huge upset.
(Note: IBM Lotus Symphony is available for [free download] for Windows and Linux.When my friend purchased a new laptop that came pre-installed with Windows Vista, he was surprised to see that Microsoft Office was not included. I pointed him to Lotus Symphony, and he is running great with his existing Word, Powerpoint and Excel documents! I use Lotus Symphony on both Windows and Linux, and IBM plans to make a version available for Mac OS X-- when that happens, I have my Mac Mini G4 waiting to try it out.)
IBM Wireless Software for Business Intelligence (BI) on the go
For most of 2007, IBM Cognos 8 Go! Mobile software supported only Blackberry units. At the end of last year, Cognos upgraded its wireless business intelligence software – which delivers business reports to on-the-go staffers – to support handhelds that run Windows Mobile OS. Naturally, this expanded the company’s user base, and likely helped Cognos 8 Go! Mobile win the Wireless Software category.
(If you have a RIM Blackberry handheld device, you can try out this[actual demo].)
Wow! That's a lot of awards. Congratulations to all my IBM colleagues who made this happen!
However, I have to assume his real question is ... "what is the quick and easy way for me to build a lightweight database app like Microsoft Access that I can distribute as a standalone executable?"
To which I would say "Lotus has a program called Approach, which is part of Lotus SmartSuite, which some people still use. However, a lot of the focus in IBM now centers around the lightweight Cloudscape database which IBM acquired from Informix, which is now known as the [open source project called Derby]. Many IBM and Lotus products, such as Lotus Expeditor use the JDBC connection to Derby, which allows you to use Windows, Linux, Flash, etc. ... with no vendor lock in".
I am familiar with Cloudscape, and I evaluated it as a potential database for IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center, when I was the lead architect defining the version 1 release. It runs entirely on Java, which is both a plus and minus. Plus in that it runs anywhere Java runs, but a minus in that it is not optimized for high performance or large scalability. Because of this, we decided instead on using the full commercial DB2 database instead for Productivity Center.
Not to be undone, my colleagues over at DB2 offered a different alternative, [DB2 Express-C], which runs on a variety of Windows, Linux-x86, and Linux on POWER platforms. It is "free" as in beer, not free as in speech, which means you can download and use it today at no charge, and even ship products with it included, but you are not allowed to modify and distribute altered versions of it, as you can with "free as in speech" open source code, as in the case of Derby above (see [Apache License 2.0"] for details).
As I see it, DB2 Express-C has two key advantages. First, if you like the free version, you can purchase a "support contract" for those that need extra hand-holding, or are using this as part of a commercial business venture. Second,for those who do prefer vendor lock-in, it is easyto upgrade Express-C to the full IBM DB2 database product, so if you are developing a product intended for use with DB2, you can develop it first with DB2 Express-C, and migrate up to full DB2 commercial version when you are ready.
This is perhaps more information than you probably expected for such a simple question. Meanwhile, I am stilltrying to figure out MySQL as part of my [OLPC volunteer project].
Wrapping up my week on the Feb 12 announcements, I will finish off talking about thenew Half-High (HH) LTO4 drives available for our TS3100 and TS3200 tape libraries.
Small and medium sized business (SMB) clients are looking for small, affordable tapesystems. Tape is inherently green, using orders of magnitude less energy than disk,and is very scalable by simply purchasing more tape cartridges.
When IBM first announced them, the TS3100 supported one drive with 24 cartridges,and the TS3200 (see picture at left) supported two drives and 48 cartridges. Unlike disk, that mentions RAWcapacity and then lowers it to indicate usable capacity in RAID configurations, tapeis just the opposite. LTO4 cartridges have 800 GB raw capacity, but with an average of 2:1compression, can hold a usable 1.6 TB of data. LTO4 also supports WORM cartridges fornon-erasable, non-rewriteable (NENR) types of data, and encryption capability.
As a follow-on to our HH LTO3 drives, IBM is the first major storage vendor to offerthe new HH LTO4 drives in entry-level automation, which directly attach via 3Gbps SAS connections to your host servers. The HH models allows you to have two drives in the TS3100, and four drives in the TS3200.
You can mix and match, LTO3 and LTO4. Why would anyone do that? Well, the Linear Tape Open [LTO]consortium --made up of technology provider companies IBM, HP and Quantum--decided to support N-2 generation read, and N-1 generation read/write. So, anLTO3 can read LTO1 cartridges, and read/write LTO2 and LTO3 cartridges. TheLTO4 can read LTO2 cartridges, and read/write LTO3 and LTO4 cartridges. For SMBcustomers that still have some LTO1 cartridges they might want to read some day,mixing LTO3 and LTO4 is a viable combination.
Of course, IBM still offers full-high (FH) versions of LTO3 and LTO4, which offer a bit faster acceleration, back-hitch and rewind times than their HH counterparts, and also offer additional attachment choices of LVD Ultra160 SCSIand 4 Gbps Fibre Channel as well.
So, for SMB customers that are simply using their tape for backup and archive,and probably not driving maximum rated speeds, having twice as many slowerdrives might be just the right fit.
Today, I'll cover the announcements related to our IBM System Storage N series disk systems, which ties inwith Valentines Day theme nicely. The phrase we use for "unified storage" is that N series allows you to "share the closet, not necessarily the clothes". Couples recognize the value of a shared closet over having one closet for just the man's clothes, and a separate closet for just the woman's clothes. (For some couples, the man's closet would be terribly under utilized!). By analogy, the N series allows you to share one solution for LUNs that can be accessed via FCP or iSCSI protocols, and NAS file systems that can be accessed via NFS and CIFS protocols. In most data centers, Windows and UNIX applications are about as likely to share files as men and women are to wear each other's clothes, so the analogy is in tact.
Let's take a look at what got announced:
N7700 and N7900
There are actually [eight new high-end N series] models. the N7900 has 4 processors and 32GB of cache. The N7700 has 2 processors and 16GB cache. Each has two appliance models (A11 single node and A21 dual node) and two gateway models (G11 single node and G21 dual node).
The appliance models support both FC and SATA disk. The N7900 A models support a maximum of 1176 drives; the N7700 A models supports 840 drives. The gateway models provide FCP, iSCSI and NAS host access through external disk attachment. The N7900 gateway models support 1176 LUNs on external disk systems; the N7700 gateway models support 840 external LUNs.
N series now supports 1 TB SATA disk
The [EXN1000 expansion drawer] can now have up to fourteen 1TB SATA drives. This is in addition to previousannouncements supporting 500GB and 750GB drive capacities. These drawer support the entire N series line.
With 1 TB drives, the N7900 now supports up to 1176 TB of raw capacity, which is over 1PB of usabledata in 12+2P RAID-DP mode. This is greater than the internal disk capacity limits of current IBM DS8000, EMC DMX andHDS USP-V models.
At the low end, both the N3300 and N3600 now support 500GB, 750GB and 1TB SATA drives in addition to the SASdrives they supported.
SnapManager for Microsoft SharePoint
There is a new SnapManager in town. This one is for Microsoft SharePoint data. See the announcementfor the [N3300 and N3600] for details.
On Jan 24, IBM signed agreements with [Ingram Micro, Tech Data, and Synnex], to distribute the N Series products and work with IBM to recruit new solution providers to the line. These three are all well-respected world-class distribution providers, so weare glad to have increased our partnership with them on this.
Yesterday, I promised I would cover other products from the Feb 12 announcement. Today I will focus on the IBM SAN768B director. Some people are confused on the differences between switchesand directors. I find there are three key differences:
Directors are designed to be 24x7 operation, highly available with no single points of failure or repair. Generally, all components in directors are redundant and hot-swappable, including Control Processors. In switches, some components are redundant and hot-swappable, such as fans and power supplies), but not the “motherboard” or controller. Often you have to take down a switch to make firmware or major hardware changes or upgrades.
Directors are designed to take in "blades" with different features, port counts, or protocol capabilities. You can add or remove blades while the system is up and running. Switches have a fixed number of ports. (A Small Form-factor Pluggable optical transceiver [SFP] is the component that turns electric pulses into light pulses (and visa versa). You plug the SFP into the switch, and then the fiber optic cable is plugged into the SFP).
With switches, you often start with a base number of active ports, and then can enable the rest of the ports as you need them.
Directors have hundreds of ports. Switches tend to have 64 ports or less.
Last year, Brocade acquired McDATA. Both were OEMs for IBM, and IBM distinguished that in the naming convention. The IBM SAN***B name was used to denote products manufactured for IBM by Brocade, and a SAN***M name was used to denote products manufactured by McDATA.
At that time, Brocade and McDATA equipment did not mix very well on the same fabric, so IBM retained the naming convention so that you as a customer knew what it worked with.
Brocade now has released with new levels of both operating systems--Brocade's FOS and McDATA's EOS--and their respective fabric managers--Brocade Fabric Manager (FM) and McDATA's Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Manager (EFCM)--so that they have full interoperability.
Brocade's goal is to enhance EFCM to be a common software management platform for all of their products going forward.
IBM used the maximum port count in the name to provide some clue as to the size of the switch or director. The SAN16B-2 or the SAN32B-3 are switches that have a maximum of 16 and 32 ports. The SAN256B supports a maximumeight blades of your choosing.Two different types were supported for FC ports, a 16-port blade and a 32-port blade.If all eight were 32-port blades then the maximum was 256 ports, hence the name. But then Brocade began offering 48-port blades. Should IBM change the name? No, it decided to leave itthe SAN256B even though it can now have a maximum of 384 ports.
Not to confuse anyone, the SAN768B also has a maximum of 384 ports, in the same 14U dimensions, but with a special twist. Normally to connect two directors together you use up ports from each, in what are called "inter-switch links" (ISL).These are ports you are taking away from availability from the servers and storage controllers. The SAN768Boffers a new alternative called "inter-chassis links". Each SAN768B has two processing blades, and each has two ICL ports, so with just four two-meter (2m) cables, you get the equivalent of 128 FC 8 Gbps ISL links without using 128 individual ports on each side. That is like giving you 256 ports back for use with servers and storage!
Since IBM directors require 240 volt power, IBM TotalStorage SAN Cabinet C36 include power distribution units (PDUs). PDUs are just glorified power strips, but a new intelligent PDU (iPDU) option introduces additional intelligence to monitor energy consumption for customers looking to measure, and perhaps charge back, energy consumption to the rest of the business. You can stack two SAN768B in one cabinet, one on top of the other, and connected via ICLs, it wouldlook like one huge 768-port backbone.
As a backbone for your data center, the SAN768B is positioned for two emerging technologies:
8 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC)
The SAN768B is powerful enough to have 32-port blades run full speed on all ports off-blade without oversubscription. Oversubscription is an emotional topic.
Normally, blades (like switches) can handle all traffic at full speed without delays provided the in-bound and out-bound ports involved are all on the same blade. In a director, however, if you need to communicate from a port on one blade to a port on a different blade, it is possible that off-blade traffic might be constrained or delayed in its transit across the backplane.
On the SAN768B, both the 16-port and 32-port blades can run at full 8 Gbps speed, and the 48-port is exposed to oversubscription only if you have more than 32-ports running at full 8 Gbps transferring data off-blade concurrently.
The new 8 Gbps SFPs support auto-negotiation at N-1 and N-2 generation link speeds. This means that they will automatically slow down when communicating with 4Gpbs and 2 Gbps devices, but they cannot communicate with 1 Gbps devices. If you are still using 1 Gbps devices in your data center, you will need to use 4 Gbps SFPs (which also support 2 Gbps and 1 Gbps link speeds) to communicate with those older devices.
Basically, this new technology enables transport of Fibre Channel packets over 10 Gbps Ethernet links. This 10 Gbps Ethernet can also be used to carry traditional iSCSI and TCP/IP traffic. FCoE introduces new extensions to provide Fibre Channel characteristics, like being lossless, and offering consistent performance. The ANSI T11 team is driving FCoE as an open standard, and at the moment it is not fully baked. I suggest you don't buy any FCoE equipment prematurely, as pre-standard devices or host bus adapters could get you burned later when the standard is finalized.
The idea is that FCoE blades can be installed in a SAN768B along with traditional FC blades, allowing routing of traffic between traditional FC and new FCoE ports. Those who have invested in FCIP for long distance replication will be able to continue using either FC or FCoE inputs.
One of the big drivers of FCoE is IBM BladeCenter. Currently, most BladeCenter blades support both Ethernet and FC connectivity and are connected to both Ethernet and FC switches on the back of each BladeCenter chassis. With FCoE, we have the potential to run both FC and IP traffic across simpler all-Ethernet blades, connecting through all-Ethernet switches on the backs of each chassis.
For more information on the IBM SAN768B, see the [IBM Press Release]. For more detailson Brocade's strategy, here is an 8-page white paper on their[Data Center Fabric] vision.