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Am I dreaming? On his Storagezilla blog, fellow blogger Mark Twomey (EMC) brags about EMC's standard benchmark results, in his post titled [Love Life. Love CIFS.]. Here is my take:
A Full 180 degree reversal
For the past several years, EMC bloggers have argued, both in comments on this blog, and on their own blogs, that standard benchmarks are useless and should not be used to influence purchase decisions. While we all agree that "your mileage may vary", I find standard benchmarks are useful as part of an overall approach in comparing and selecting which vendors to work with, and which architectures or solution approaches to adopt, and which products or services to deploy. I am glad to see that EMC has finally joined the rest of the planet on this. I find it funny this reversal sounds a lot like their reversal from "Tape is Dead" to "What? We never said tape was dead!"
Impressive CIFS Results
The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) has developed a series of NFS benchmarks, the latest, [SPECsfs2008] added support for CIFS. So, on the CIFS side, EMC's benchmarks compare favorably against previous CIFS tests from other vendors.
On the NFS side, however, EMC is still behind Avere, BlueArc, Exanet, and IBM/NetApp. For example, EMC's combination of Celerra gateways in front of V-Max disk systems resulted in 110,621 OPS with overall response time of 2.32 milliseconds. By comparison, the IBM N series N7900 (tested by NetApp under their own brand, FAS6080) was able to do 120,011 OPS with 1.95 msec response time.
Even though Sun invented the NFS protocol in the early 1980s, they take an EMC-like approach against standard benchmarks to measure it. Last year, fellow blogger Bryan Cantrill (Sun) gives his [Eulogy for a Benchmark]. I was going to make points about this, but fellow blogger Mike Eisler (NetApp) [already took care of it]. We can all learn from this. Companies that don't believe in standard benchmarks can either reverse course (as EMC has done), or continue their downhill decline until they are acquired by someone else.
(My condolences to those at Sun getting laid off. Those of you who hire on with IBM can get re-united with your former StorageTek buddies! Back then, StorageTek people left Sun in droves, knowing that Sun didn't understand the mainframe tape marketplace that StorageTek focused on. Likewise, many question how well Oracle will understand Sun's hardware business in servers and storage.)
What's in a Protocol?
Both CIFS and NFS have been around for decades, and comparisons can sometimes sound like religious debates. Traditionally, CIFS was used to share files between Windows systems, and NFS for Linux and UNIX platforms. However, Windows can also handle NFS, while Linux and UNIX systems can use CIFS. If you are using a recent level of VMware, you can use either NFS or CIFS as an alternative to Fibre Channel SAN to store your external disk VMDK files.
The Bigger Picture
There is a significant shift going on from traditional database repositories to unstructured file content. Today, as much as [80 percent of data is unstructured]. Shipments this year are expected to grow 60 percent for file-based storage, and only 15 percent for block-based storage. With the focus on private and public clouds, NAS solutions will be the battleground for 2010.
So, I am glad to see EMC starting to cite standard benchmarks. Hopefully, SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks are forthcoming?
It's Tuesday, and that means more IBM announcements!
I haven't even finished blogging about all the other stuff that got announced last week, and here we are with more announcements. Since IBM's big [Pulse 2010 Conference] is next week, I thought I would cover this week's announcement on Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) v6.2 release. Here are the highlights:
Client-Side Data Deduplication
This is sometimes referred to as "source-side" deduplication, as storage admins can get confused on which servers are clients in a TSM client-server deployment. The idea is to identify duplicates at the TSM client node, before sending to the TSM server. This is done at the block level, so even files that are similar but not identical, such as slight variations from a master copy, can benefit. The dedupe process is based on a shared index across all clients, and the TSM server, so if you have a file that is similar to a file on a different node, the duplicate blocks that are identical in both would be deduplicated.
This feature is available for both backup and archive data, and can also be useful for archives using the IBM System Storage Archive Manager (SSAM) v6.2 interface.
Simplified management of Server virtualization
TSM 6.2 improves its support of VMware guests by adding auto-discovery. Now, when you spontaneously create a new virtual machine OS guest image, you won't have to tell TSM, it will discover this automatically! TSM's legendary support of VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) now eliminates the manual process of keeping track of guest images. TSM also added support of the Vstorage API for file level backup and recovery.
While IBM is the #1 reseller of VMware, we also support other forms of server virtualization. In this release, IBM adds support for Microsoft Hyper-V, including support using Microsoft's Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS).
Automated Client Deployment
Do you have clients at all different levels of TSM backup-archive client code deployed all over the place? TSM v6.2 can upgrade these clients up to the latest client level automatically, using push technology, from any client running v5.4 and above. This can be scheduled so that only certain clients are upgraded at a time.
Simultaneous Background Tasks
The TSM server has many background administrative tasks:
Migration of data from one storage pool to another, based on policies, such as moving backups and archives on a disk pool over to a tape pools to make room for new incoming data.
Storage pool backup, typically data on a disk pool is copied to a tape pool to be kept off-site.
Copy active data. In TSM terminology, if you have multiple backup versions, the most recent version is called the active version, and the older versions are called inactive. TSM can copy just the active versions to a separate, smaller disk pool.
In previous releases, these were done one at a time, so it could make for a long service window. With TSM v6.2, these three tasks are now run simultaneously, in parallel, so that they all get done in less time, greatly reducing the server maintenance window, and freeing up tape drives for incoming backup and archive data. Often, the same file on a disk pool is going to be processed by two or more of these scheduled tasks, so it makes sense to read it once and do all the copies and migrations at one time while the data is in buffer memory.
Enhanced Security during Data Transmission
Previous releases of TSM offered secure in-flight transmission of data for Windows and AIX clients. This security uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) with 256-bit AES encryption. With TSM v6.2, this feature is expanded to support Linux, HP-UX and Solaris.
Improved support for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications
I remember back when we used to call these TDPs (Tivoli Data Protectors). TSM for ERP allows backup of ERP applications, seemlessly integrating with database-specific tools like IBM DB2, Oracle RMAN, and SAP BR*Tools. This allows one-to-many and many-to-one configurations between SAP servers and TSM servers. In other words, you can have one SAP server backup to several TSM servers, or several SAP servers backup to a single TSM server. This is done by splitting up data bases into "sub-database objects", and then process each object separately. This can be extremely helpful if you have databases over 1TB in size. In the event that backing up an object fails and has to be re-started, it does not impact the backup of the other objects.
Well, today's Tuesday, and you know what that means... IBM Announcements!
This week, IBM has their huge 3Q Launch. This on top of the [2Q results] IBM released yesterday. You can read how the rest of the company did, but it is good to see that IBM grew in both revenue and market share for storage!
As with any IBM launch of this magnitude, there are so many enhancements, I will spread them across several posts.
IBM System Storage TS7610 ProtecTIER® Deduplication Appliance Express
The TS7610 is a smaller appliance than the TS7650 we introduced last year, taking up only 3U of rack space (2U for the disk itself, and a 1U slide rail to simplify maintenance). This is designed for smaller deployments, such as midsized businesses between 100 and 1000 employees that backup 3TB of data per week or less. The unit relies on RAID protected SATA drives. Thanks to the same ProtecTIER data deduplication we have on the TS7650, the TS7610 can hold up to 135TB of backup data on just 5.4TB of disk capacity, with in-line data ingest at 80 MB/sec performance. This little Virtual Tape Library (VTL) emulates up to four TS3500 libraries, with 64 LTO-3 drives and over 8000 virtual tapes. See the [Announcement letter] for details.
The [ProtecTIER Entry Edition] offers a hub-and-spoke approach to replication. You can have up to twelve(12) TS7610 boxes (the "spokes") replicate to a central VTL (the "hub"). This can be ideal for protecting remote office or branch office deployments.
IBM dobules the storage capacity by utilizing 2TB hard disk drives for the N3300 and N3400 series models, maximizes customer satisfaction through Partner Select Bundles (software bundles) for all of the N3000 series (N3300, N3400, N3600), and offers Application and Server Packs (software bundles) for N3400 models.
For the high-end, IBM introduces an enhanced Performance Acceleration Module (PAM II) bundle for N7900 Gateway. This bundle includes two 512GB Solid State Drive PAM II adapters, two dual-port 10GbE TOE network interface cards (NIC), and various software features.
The DS5020 and EXP520 joins their bigger siblings DS5100 and DS5300 in supporting Solid State Drives (SSD), available in 73GB and 300GB capacities. A new air filter bezel is also available for these when used in dusty environments. See the [Announcement letter] for details.
For my friends down in Brazil, A new 2.8 meter length power cord that supports 220-250 volts is now available for all DS4000 and DS5000 series disk systems. Obrigado para o seu negócio!
IBM Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager v2.2
I covered this latest release in my post [FlashCopy Manager v2.2] but the marketing team felt we should include it with this launch to get added exposure and visibility.
I'll try to get to the rest in separate posts over the rest of this week.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
This week, IBM announces the second generation of Storwize V5000 flash and disk storage systems. There are the V5000F All-flash configurations, as well as the V5000 that can support a variety of flash and spinning disk drives.
There are three models:
The V5010 has dual 2-core/2-thread processors and 16GB of cache. It supports thin provisioning, FlashCopy, Easy Tier, and remote mirroring. The base unit includes 1 GbE Ethernet ports for iSCSI host connectivity, with options to add 16GB Fibre Channel, 12Gb SAS, and 10GbE iSCSI/FCoE as well.
The 2U controllers and expansion enclosures can hold either 24 small 2.5-inch drives, or 12 larger 3.5-inch drives. A single control enclosure has two active/active IBM Spectrum Virtualize nodes, and can attach up to 10 expansion enclosures for a maximum of 264 drives.
The V5020 unit has dual 2-core/4-thread processors and up to 32GB of cache. It supports everything the V5010 does, plus encryption. The encryption is done via the Intel AES-NI instruction set to eliminate the need for special "self-encrypting drives" (SED) that other storage devices may require.
The V5030 has dual 6-core/4-thread processors and up to 64GB of cache. It supports everything the V5010 and V5020 do, plus Real-time Compression and external virtualization. The Real-time Compression can achieve up to 80 percent space savings, representing a 5:1 compression ratio.
Each control enclosure can attach to 20 expansion enclosures, which can support 504 internal drives per controller, and up to 1,008 with two controllers (four Spectrum Virtualize nodes) clustered together. This is in addition to the drives in external storage systems virtualized.
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.
The new [IBM System Storage Tape Controller 3592 Model C07] is an upgrade to the previous C06 controller. Like the C06, the new 3592-C07 can have up to four FICON (4Gbps) ports, four FC ports, and connect up to 16 drives. The difference is that the C07 supports 8Gbps speed FC ports, and can support the [new TS1140 tape drives that were announced on May 9]. A cool feature of the C07 is that it has a built-in library manager function for the mainframe. On the previous models, you had to have a separate library manager server.
Crossroads ReadVerify Appliance (3222-RV1)
IBM has entered an agreement to resell [Crossroads ReadVerify Appliance], or "RV1" for short. The RV1 is a 1U-high server with software that gathers information on the utilization, performance and health for a physical tape environment, such as an IBM TS3500 Tape Library. The RV1 also offers a feature called "ArchiveVerify" which validates long-term retention archive tapes, providing an audit trail on the readability of tape media. This can be useful for tape libraries attached behind IBM Information Archive compliance storage solution, or the IBM Scale-Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS).
As an added bonus, Crossroads has great videos! Here's one, titled [Tape Sticks]
Linear Tape File System (LTFS) Library Edition Version 2.1
While the hardware is all refreshed, the overall "scale-out" architecture is unchanged. Kudos to the XIV development team for designing a system that is based entirely on commodity hardware, allowing new hardware generations to be introduced with minimal changes to the vast number of field-proven software features like thin provisioning, space-efficient read-only and writeable snapshots, synchronous and asynchronous mirroring, and Quality of Service (QoS) performance classes.
The new XIV Gen3 features an Infiniband interconnect, faster 8Gbps FC ports, more iSCSI ports, faster motherboard and processors, SAS-NL 2TB drives, 24GB cache memory per XIV module, all in a single frame IBM rack that supports the IBM Rear Door Heat Exchanger. The results are a 2x to 4x boost in performance for various workloads. Here are some example performance comparisons:
Disclaimer: Performance is based on measurements and projections using standard IBM benchmarks in a controlled environment. The actual throughput that any user will experience will vary depending upon considerations such as the amount of multiprogramming in the user's job stream, the I/O configuration, the storage configuration, and the workload processed. Therefore, no assurance can be given that an individual user will achieve throughput improvements equivalent to the performance ratios stated here. Your mileage may vary.
In a Statement of Direction, IBM also has designed the Gen3 modules to be "SSD-ready" which means that you can insert up to 500GB of Solid-State drive capacity per XIV module, up to 7.5TB in a fully-configured 15 module frame. This SSD would act as an extension of DRAM cache, similar to how Performance Accelerator Modules (PAM) on IBM N series.
IBM will continue to sell XIV Gen2 systems for the next 12-18 months, as some clients like the smaller 1TB disk drives. The new Gen3 only comes with 2TB drives. There are some clients that love the XIV so much, that they also use it for less stringent Tier 2 workloads. If you don't need the blazing speed of the new Gen3, perhaps the lower cost XIV Gen2 might be a great fit!
As if I haven't said this enough times already, the IBM XIV is a Tier-1, high-end, enterprise-class disk storage system, optimized for use with mission critical workloads on Linux, UNIX and Windows operating systems, and is the ideal cost-effective replacement for EMC Symmetrix VMAX, HDS USP-V and VSP, and HP P9000 series disk systems, . Like the XIV Gen2, the XIV Gen3 can be used with IBM System i using VIOS, and with IBM System z mainframes running Linux, z/VM or z/VSE. If you run z/OS or z/TPF with Count-Key-Data (CKD) volumes and FICON attachment, go with the IBM System Storage DS8000 instead, IBM's other high-end disk system.
As a consultant, I am often asked to help design the architecture for the information infrastructure. A usefulanalogy to gather requirements and preferences is the difference between area rugs and wall-to-wall carpeting. Arearugs are not secured to the floor and cover only a portion of the floor area. Carpets are generally tacked or cemented to the floor, often with an underlay of cushion padding, stretched across the entire floor surface, out to all four walls of each room.
Each has its pros and cons, and often is a matter of preference. Some people like area rugs because they can choosea different style for each room, match the decor and color scheme of furniture, and use these to define each livingspace. Ever since paleolithic man put animal skins on the floor of their cave, people recognize that cold, hard andugly floors could be covered up with something soft and more attractive.Others prefer wall-to-wall carpeting because they want to walk around the house barefoot, have their young children crawl on their hands and knees, and give the entire house a unified look and feel. This is often an inexpensive option when compared against the cost of individual rugs.
The same is true for an information infrastructure. For some, they prefer the "area rug" approach: this style ofstorage for their email, this other type of storage for their databases, and perhaps a third for their unstructuredfile systems. When customers ask what storage would I recommend for their SAP application, or their Microsoft Exchangeemail environment, or their Business Intelligence (BI) software, I recognize they are taking this "area rug" approach.
Like area rugs, having different storage can focus on specific attributes of the workload characteristics. It alsoinsulates against company-wide changes, the dreaded "rip-and-replace" of replacing all of your storage with somethingfrom a different vendor. With "area rug" storage, you can support a dual-vendor or multi-vendor strategy, and upgrade or replace each on its own schedule.
Thanks to open standards and industry-standard benchmarks, changing out one storage solution for another is assimple as rolling up an area rug, and putting another one in its place that is similar in size dimensions.
Others may prefer "wall-to-wall carpeting" approach: one disk system type, one tape library type,one network type, that provides unified management and minimizes the needs for unique skills. Generally, the choice of NAS, SAN or iSCSI infrastrucutre is done company-wide, and might strongly influence the set of products that will support that decision. For example, those with a mix of mainframe and distributed servers looking for SAN-attached storage may look at an [IBM System Storage DS8000] and [TS3500 tape library] that can provide support for FICON and FCP.
Those looking at NAS or iSCSI might consider the IBM System Storage N series products, "unified storage" supporting iSCSI, FCP and NAS protocols. If you want the "wall-to-wall" to stretch across all the sites in your globally integrated enterprise, IBM's scalable NAS product, Scale-Out File Services[SoFS], provides a global name spacein combination with a clustered file system that provides incredible scalability and performance based on field-proven technology used by the majority of the [Top 100 supercomputer] deployments.
IBM can help you design an information infrastructure that fits either approach.
Well, it's Wednesday, and you know what that means... IBM Announcements!
(Actually most IBM announcements are on Tuesdays, but IBM gave me extra time to recover from my trip to Europe!)
Today, IBM announced [IBM PureSystems], a new family of expert-integrated systems that combine storage, servers, networking, and software, based on IBM's decades of experience in the IT industry. You can register for the [Launch Event] today (April 11) at 2pm EDT, and download the companion "Integrated Expertise" event app for Apple, Android or Blackberry smartphones.
(If you are thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, hasn't this been done before?" you are not alone. Yes, IBM introduced the System/360 back in 1964, and the AS/400 back in 1988, so today's announcement is on scheduled for this 24-year cycle. Based on IBM's past success in this area, others have followed, most recently, Oracle, HP and Cisco.)
Initially, there are two offerings:
IBM PureFlex™ System
IBM PureFlex is like IaaS-in-a-box, allowing you to manage the system as a pool of virtual resources. It can be used for private cloud deployments, hybrid cloud deployments, or by service providers to offer public cloud solutions. IBM drinks its own champagne, and will have no problem integrating these into its [IBM SmartCloud] offerings.
To simplify ordering, the IBM PureFlex comes in three tee-shirt sizes: Express, Standard and Enterprise.
IBM PureFlex is based on a 10U-high, 19-inch wide, standard rack-mountable chassis that holds 14 bays, organized in a 7 by 2 matrix. Unlike BladeCenter where blades are inserted vertically, the IBM PureFlex nodes are horizontal. Some of the nodes take up a single bay (half-wide), but a few are full-wide, take up two bays, the full 19-inch width of the chassis. Compute and storage snap in the front, while power supplies, fans, and networking snap in the back. You can fit up to four chassis in a standard 42U rack.
Unlike competitive offerings, IBM does not limit you to x86 architectures. Both x86 and POWER-based compute nodes can be mixed into a single chassis. Out of the box, the IBM PureFlex supports four operating systems (AIX, IBM i, Linux and Windows), four server hypervisors (Hyper-V, Linux KVM, PowerVM, and VMware), and two storage hypervisors (SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000).
There are a variety of storage options for this. IBM will offer SSD and HDD inside the compute nodes themselves, direct-attached storage nodes, and an integrated version of the Storwize V7000 disk system. Of course, every IBM System Storage product is supported as external storage. Since Storwize V7000 and SAN Volume Controller support external virtualization, many non-IBM devices will be supported automatically as well.
Networking is also optimized, with options for 10Gb and 40Gb Ethernet/FCoE, 40Gb and 56Gb Infiniband, 8Gbps and 16Gbps Fibre Channel. Much of the networking traffic can be handled within the chassis, to minimize traffic on external switches and directors.
For management, IBM offers the Flex System Manager, that allows you to manage all the resources from a single pane of glass. The goal is to greatly simplify the IT lifecycle experience of procurement, installation, deployment and maintenance.
IBM PureApplication™ System
IBM PureApplication is like PaaS-in-a-box. Based on the IBM PureFlex infrastructure, the IBM PureApplication adds additional software layers focused on transactional web, business logic, and database workloads. Initially, it will offer two platforms: Linux platform based on x86 processors, Linux KVM and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL); and a UNIX platform based on POWER7 processors, PowerVM and AIX operating system. It will be offered in four tee-shirt sizes (small, medium, large and extra large).
In addition to having IBM's middleware like DB2 and WebSphere optimized for this platform, over 600 companies will announce this week that they will support and participate in the IBM PureSystems ecosystem as well. Already, there are 150 "Patterns of Expertise" ready to deploy from IBM PureSystem Centre, a kind of a "data center app store", borrowing an idea used today with smartphones.
By packaging applications in this manner, workloads can easily shift between private, hybrid and public clouds.
If you are unhappy with the inflexibility of your VCE Vblock, HP Integrity, or Oracle ExaLogic, talk to your local IBM Business Partner or Sales Representative. We might be able to buy your boat anchor off your hands, as part of an IBM PureSystems sale, with an attractive IBM Global Financing plan.
Well, I'm back safely from my tour of Asia. I am glad to report that Tokyo, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur are pretty much how I remember them from the last time I was there in each city. I have since been fighting jet lag by watching the last thirteen episodes of LOST season 6 and the series finale.
Recently, I have started seeing a lot of buzz on the term "Storage Federation". The concept is not new, but rather based on the work in database federation, first introduced in 1985 by [A federated architecture for information management] by Heimbigner and McLeod. For those not familiar with database federation, you can take several independent autonomous databases, and treat them as one big federated system. For example, this would allow you to issue a single query and get results across all the databases in the federated system. The advantage is that it is often easier to federate several disparate heterogeneous databases than to merge them into a single database. [IBM Infosphere Federation Server] is a market leader in this space, with the capability to federate DB2, Oracle and SQL Server databases.
Storage expansion: You want to increase the storage capacity of an existing storage system that cannot accommodate the total amount of capacity desired. Storage Federation allows you to add additional storage capacity by adding a whole new system.
Storage migration: You want to migrate from an aging storage system to a new one. Storage Federation allows the joining of the two systems and the evacuation from storage resources on the first onto the second and then the first system is removed.
Safe system upgrades: System upgrades can be problematic for a number of reasons. Storage Federation allows a system to be removed from the federation and be re-inserted again after the successful completion of the upgrade.
Load balancing: Similar to storage expansion, but on the performance axis, you might want to add additional storage systems to a Storage Federation in order to spread the workload across multiple systems.
Storage tiering: In a similar light, storage systems in a Storage Federation could have different capacity/performance ratios that you could use for tiering data. This is similar to the idea of dynamically re-striping data across the disk drives within a single storage system, such as with 3PAR's Dynamic Optimization software, but extends the concept to cross storage system boundaries.
To some extent, IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), XIV, Scale-Out NAS (SONAS), and Information Archive (IA) offer most, if not all, of these capabilities. EMC claims its VPLEX will be able to offer storage federation, but only with other VPLEX clusters, which brings up a good question. What about heterogenous storage federation? Before anyone accuses me of throwing stones at glass houses, let's take a look at each IBM solution:
IBM SAN Volume Controller
The IBM SAN Volume Controller has been doing storage federation since 2003. Not only can IBM SAN Volume Controller bring together storage from a variety of heterogenous storage, the SVC cluster itself can be a mix of different hardware models. You can have a 2145-8A4 node pair, 2145-8G4 node pair, and the new 2145-CF8 node pair, all combined together into a single SVC cluster. Upgrading SVC hardware nodes in an SVC cluster is always non-disruptive.
IBM XIV storage system
The IBM XIV has two kinds of independent modules. Data modules have processor, cache and 12 disks. Interface modules are data modules with additional processor, FC and Ethernet (iSCSI) adapters. Because these two modules play different roles in an XIV "colony", that number of each type is predetermined. Entry-level six-module systems have 2 interface and 4 data modules. Full 15-module systems have 6 interface and 9 data modules. Individual modules can be added or removed non-disruptively in an XIV.
IBM Scale-Out NAS
The SONAS is comprised of three kinds of nodes that work together in concert. A management node, one or more interface nodes, and two or more storage nodes. The storage nodes are paired to manage up to 240 nodes in a storage pod. Individual interface or data nodes can be added or removed non-disruptively in the SONAS. The underlying technology, the General Parallel File System, has been doing storage federation since 1996 for some of the largest top 500 supercomputers in the world.
IBM Information Archive (IA)
For the IA, there are 1, 2 or 3 nodes, which manages a set of collections. A collection can either be file-based using industry-standard NAS protocols, or object-based using the popular System Storage™ Archive Manager (SSAM) interface. Normally, you have as many collections as you have nodes, but nodes are powerful enough to manage two collections to provide N-1 availability. This allows a node to be removed, and a new node added into the IA "colony", in a non-disruptive manner.
Even in an ant colony, there are only a few types of ants, with typically one queen, several males, and lots of workers. But all the ants are red. You don't see colonies that mix between different species of ants. For databases, federation was a way to avoid the much harder task of merging databases from different platforms. For storage, I am surprised people have latched on to the term "federation", given our mixed results in the other "federations" we have formed, which I have conveniently (IMHO) ranked from least effective to most effective:
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
My father used to say, "If the Soviet Union were in charge of the Sahara desert, they would run out of sand in 50 years." The [Soviet Union] actually lasted 68 years, from 1922 to 1991.
The United Nations (UN)
After the previous League of Nations failed, the UN was formed in 1945 to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and the achieving of world peace by stopping wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue.
The European Union (EU)
With the collapse of the Greek economy, and the [rapid growth of debt] in the UK, Spain and France, there are concerns that the EU might not last past 2020.
The United States of America (USA)
My own country is a federation of states, each with its own government. California's financial crisis was compared to the one in Greece. My own state of Arizona is under boycott from other states because of its recent [immigration law]. However, I think the US has managed better than the EU because it has evolved over the past 200 years.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC]
Technically, OPEC is not a federation of cooperating countries, but rather a cartel of competing countries that have agreed on total industry output of oil to increase individual members' profits. Note that it was a non-OPEC company, BP, that could not "control their output" in what has now become the worst oil spill in US history. OPEC was formed in 1960, and is expected to collapse sometime around 2030 when the world's oil reserves run out. Matt Savinar has a nice article on [Life After the Oil Crash].
United Federation of Planets
The [Federation] fictitiously described in the Star Trek series appears to work well, an optimistic view of what federations could become if you let them evolve long enough.
Given the mixed results with "federation", I think I will avoid using the term for storage, and stick to the original term "scale-out architecture".
Continuing this week's coverage of IBM's 3Q announcements, today it's all about storage for our mainframe clients.
IBM System Storage DS8700
IBM is the leader in high-end disk attached to mainframes, with the IBM DS8700 being our latest model in a long series of successful products in this space. Here are some key features:
Full Disk Encryption (FDE), which I mentioned in my post [Different Meanings of the word "Protect"]. FDE are special 15K RPM Fibre Channel drives that include their own encryption chip, so that IBM DS8700 can encrypt the data at rest without impacting performance of reads or writes. The encryption keys are managed by IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager (TKLM).
Easy Tier, which I covered in my post [DS8700 Easy Tier Sub Lun Automatic Migration] which offers what EMC promised but has yet to deliver, the ability to have CKD volumes and FBA LUNs to straddle the fence between Solid State Drives (SSD) and spinning disk. For example, a 54GB CKD volume could have 4GB on SSD and the remaining 50GB on spinning drives. The hottest extents are moved automatically to SSD, and the coldest moved down to spinning disk. To learn more about Easy Tier, watch my [7-minute video] on IBM [Virtual Briefing Center].
z/OS Distributed Data Backup (zDDB), announced this week, provides the ability for a program running on z/OS to backup data written by distributed operating systems like Windows or UNIX stored in FBA format. In the past, to backup FBA LUNs involved a program like IBM Tivoli Storage Manager client to read the data natively, send it over Ethernet LAN to a TSM Server, which could run on the mainframe and use mainframe resources. This feature eliminates the Ethernet traffic by allowing a z/OS program to read the FBA blocks through standard FICON channels, which can then be written to z/OS disk or tape resources. Here is the [Announcement Letter] for more details.
One program that takes advantage of this new zDDB feature already is Innovation's [FDRSOS], which I pronounce "fudder sauce". If you are an existing FDRSOS customer, now is a good time to get rid of any EMC or HDS disk and replace with the new IBM DS8700 system.
IBM System Storage TS7680 ProtecTIER Deduplication Gateway for System z
When it comes to virtual tape libraries that attach to mainframes, the two main players are IBM TS7700 series and Oracle StorageTek Virtual Storage Manager (VSM). However, mainframe clients with StorageTek equipment are growing frustrated over Oracle's lack of commitment for mainframe-attachable storage. To make matters worse, Oracle recently missed a key delivery date for their latest enterprise tape drive.
What's new this week is that IBM now supports native IP-based asynchronous replication of virtual tapes at distance, from one TS7680 to another TS7680. This replaces the method of replication using the back end disk features. The problem with using disk replication is that all the virtual tapes will be copied over. Instead, the ProtecTIER administrator can decide which subset of virtual tapes should be replicated to the remote site, and that can reduce both storage requirements as well as bandwidth costs. See the [Announcement Letter] for more details.
Well, it's 2008, which could mark the end to RAID5 and mark the beginnings of a new disk storagearchitecture. IBM starts the year with exciting news, acquiring new disk technology from a smallstart-up called XIV, led by former-EMCer Moshe Yanai. Moshe was ousted publicly in 2001 from hisposition as EMC's VP of engineering, and formed his own company. It didn't take long for EMC bloggersto poke fun at this already. Mark Twomey, in his StorageZilla blog, had mentioned XIV before back in August,[XIV], and again todayin [IBM Buys XIV].
To address the new requirements associated with next generation digital content, IBM chose XIV and its NEXTRA™ architecture for its ability to scale dynamically, heal itself in the event of failure, and self-tune for optimum performance, all while eliminating the significant management burden typically associated with rapid growth environments. The architecture also is designed to automatically optimize resource utilization of all the components within the system, which can allow for easier management and configuration and improved performance and data availability.
"We are pleased to become a significant part of the IBM family, allowing for our unique storage architecture, our engineers and our storage industry experience to be part of IBM's overall storage business," said Moshe Yanai, chairman, XIV. "We believe the level of technological innovation achieved by our development team is unparalleled in the storage industry. Combining our storage architectural advancements with IBM's world-wide research, sales, service, manufacturing, and distribution capabilities will provide us with the ability to have these technologies tackle the emerging Web 2.0 technology needs and reach every corner of the world."
The NEXTRA architecture has been in production for more than two years, with more than four petabytes of capacity being used by customers today.
Current disk arrays were designed for online transaction processing (OLTP) databases. The focus was onusing fastest most expensive 10K and 15K RPM Fibre Channel drives, with clever caching algorithmsfor quick small updates of large relational databases. However, the world is changing, and peoplenow are looking for storage designed for digital media, archives, and other Web 2.0 applications.
One problem that NEXTRA architecture addresses is RAID rebuild. In a standard RAID5 6+P+S configuration of 146GB 10K RPM drives, the loss of one disk drive module (DDM) was recovered by reconstructing the data from parity of the other drives onto the spare drive. The process took46 minutes or longer, depending on how busy the system was doing other things. During this time,if a second drive in the same rank fails, all 876GB of data are lost. Double-drive failures are rare,but unpleasant when they happen, and hopefully you have a backup on tape to recover the data from.Moving to slower, less expensive SATA drives made this situation worse. The drives have highercapacity, but run at slower speeds. When a SATA drive fails in a RAID5 array, it could take severalhours to rebuild, and that is more time exposure for a second drive failure. A rebuild for a 750GBSATA drive would take five hours or more,with 4.5 TB of data at risk during the process if a second drive failure occurs.
The Nextra architecture doesn't use traditional RAID ranks or spare DDMs. Instead, data is carved up into 1MBobjects, and each object is stored on two physically-separate drives. In the event of a DDM loss, allthe data is readable from the second copies that are spread across hundreds of drives. New copies aremade on the empty disk space of the remaining system. This process can be done for a lost 750GB drive in under20 minutes. A double-drive failure would only lose those few objects that were on both drives, so perhaps1 to 2 percent of the total data stored on that logical volume.
Losing 1 to 2 percent of data might be devastating to a large relational database, as this could impactthe entire access to the internal structure. However, this box was designed for unstructuredcontent, like medical images, music, videos, Web pages, and other discrete files. In the event of a double-drivefailure, individual files would be recovered, such as with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager backup software.
IBM will continue to offer high-speed disk arrays like the IBM System Storage DS8000 and DS4800 for OLTP applications, and offer NEXTRA for this new surge in digital content of unstructured data. Recognizing this trend, diskdrive module manufacturers will phase out 10K RPM drives, and focus on 15K RPM for OLTP, and low-speedSATA for everything else.
Update: This blog post was focused on the version of XIV box available as of January 2008 that was built by XIV prior to the IBM acquisition. IBM has since made a major revision, made available August 2008 thataddresses a variety of workloads, including database, OLTP, email, as well as digital content and unstructuredfiles. Contact your IBM or IBM Business Partner for the latest details!
Bottom line, IBM continues to celebrate the new year, while the EMC folks in Hopkington, MA will continue to nurse their hangovers. Now that's a good way to start the new year!
IBM wins lots of awards, but this time is unique: [IBM and Fox Networks Group have jointly won an Engineering Emmy® Award] for Innovation from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. According to the Academy, by improving the ability of media companies to capture, manage and exploit content in digital form, IBM and Fox have fundamentally changed the way that audio and video content is managed and stored. Here's an excerpt from the IBM Press Release:
"By standardizing technologies in this way, Fox can now use open-standard, file-based tape in all aspects of production, post-production and distribution functions – displacing costly proprietary tape formats and/or disk subsystems. This provides media companies with the consumer equivalent of having their entire library of DVDs online and available at any time, and the ability to go to a specific scene, in any one of the movies, in an instant.
In the early stage of the technology initiative, the IBM/Fox team applied IBM-patented technologies invented by IBM Research for high-speed data movement. They also integrated traditional broadcast transport and encoding standards with IT industry open standards. This allowed either Standard Definition (SD) or HD programming to be available in real time for digital recording and repurposing -- with improved economics."
Unfortunately, people didn't like the name, but they loved the acronym, so it was renamed to Linear Tape File System. IBM offers LTFS single-drive edition on its LTO-5 and TS1140 tape drives, and LTFS library-edition across all of its tape libraries. Since everyone hates proprietary vendor lock-in, IBM has graciously shared LTFS as an open source standard with the rest of the Linear Tape Open consortium.
(Note: I was not there at the awards ceremony. The pictures were taken by Ed Childers, David Pease and Rainer Richter of each other. Additional photos are available on this [Flicr photo album].)
(1) Rainer Richter, Media Technology Market Partners LLC [MTMP], presenting the Emmy to Steve Canepa, IBM General Manager for Media and Entertainment industry. MTMP is an IBM Business Partner that offers integrated solutions for LTO and LTFS, consulting, services, and technology to the media and entertainment industry…
(2) Ed Childers, IBM manager of the Tape Drive Development team, holding the Emmy. Fellow IBM blogger Steve Hamm credits Ed on coming up with the idea for LTFS seven years ago, in his blog post [Coding and Loading in Las Vegas: How a Team of IBM Researchers Helped Transform the Way Video is Stored]. Ed wanted to make tape storage easier to use and to integrate it into the workflow of networks and studios, and suggested using an indexing system that would allow people to write software that would make video more accessible.
(3) David Pease, IBM Senior Technical Staff Member from the IBM Almaden Research Center, holding the Emmy. Along with Lucas Villa Real (IBM Brazil) and Michael Richmond (IBM Almaden), David and his team were able to come up with a working prototype in just four months. Michael discusses this in his posts [Tape? Does anyone care about Tape anymore?"] and [the Emmy goes to... LTFS].
Of course, Technology is only worthwhile if you put it to use. Our friends at FOX initially partnered with IBM to develop this video archive solution for the National Football League (NFL). If there is one place that "re-purposes" a lot of video footage, it is sports television. The technology proved so useful that FOX has since expanded it to other types of programming.
Miles per Gallon measures an effeciency ratio (amount of work done with a fixed amount of energy), not a speed ratio (distance traveled in a unit of time).
Given that IOPs and MB/s are the unit of "work" a storage array does, wouldn't the MPG equivalent for storage be more like IOPs per Watt or MB/s per Watt? Or maybe just simply Megabytes Stored per Watt (a typical "green" measurement)?
You appear to be intentionally avoiding the comparison of I/Os per Second and Megabytes per Second to Miles Per Hour?
May I ask why?
This is a fair question, Barry, so I will try to address it here.
It was not a typo, I did mean MPG (miles per gallon) and not MPH (miles per hour). It is always challenging to find an analogy that everyone can relate to explain concepts in Information Technology that might be harder to grasp. I chose MPG because it was closely related to IOPS and MB/s in four ways:
MPG applies to all instances of a particular make and model. Before Henry Ford and the assembly line, cars were made one at a time, by a small team of craftsmen, and so there could be variety from one instance to another. Today, vehicles and storage systems are mass-produced in a manner that provides consistent quality. You can test one vehicle, and safely assume that all similar instances of the same make and model will have the similar mileage. The same is true for disk systems, test one disk system and you can assume that all others of the same make and model will have similar performance.
MPG has a standardized measurement benchmark that is publicly available. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an easy analogy for the Storage Performance Council, providing the results of various offerings to chose from.
MPG has usage-specific benchmarks to reflect real-world conditions.The EPA offers City MPG for the type of driving you do to get to work, and Highway MPG, to reflect the type ofdriving on a cross-country trip. These serve as a direct analogy to SPC having SPC-1 for Online transaction processing (OLTP) and SPC-2 for large file transfers, database queries and video streaming.
MPG can be used for cost/benefit analysis.For example, one could estimate the amount of business value (miles travelled) for the amount of dollar investment (cost to purchase gallons of gasoline, at an assumed gas price). The EPA does this as part of their analysis. This is similar to the way IOPS and MB/s can be divided by the cost of the storage system being tested on SPC benchmark results. The business value of IOPS or MB/s depends on the application, but could relate to the number of transactions processed per hour, the number of music downloads per hour, or number of customer queries handled per hour, all of which can be assigned a specific dollar amount for analysis.
It seemed that if I was going to explain why standardized benchmarks were relevant, I should find an analogy that has similar features to compare to. I thought about MPH, since it is based on time units like IOPS and MB/s, butdecided against it based on an earlier comment you made, Barry, about NASCAR:
Let's imagine that a Dodge Charger wins the overwhelming majority of NASCAR races. Would that prove that a stock Charger is the best car for driving to work, or for a cross-country trip?
Your comparison, Barry, to car-racing brings up three reasons why I felt MPH is a bad metric to use for an analogy:
Increasing MPH, and driving anywhere near the maximum rated MPH for a vehicle, can be reckless and dangerous,risking loss of human life and property damage. Even professional race car drivers will agree there are dangers involved. By contrast, processing I/O requests at maximum speed poses no additional risk to the data, nor possibledamage to any of the IT equipment involved.
While most vehicles have top speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, most Federal, State and Local speed limits prevent anyone from taking advantage of those maximums. Race-car drivers in NASCAR may be able to take advantage of maximum MPH of a vehicle, the rest of us can't. The government limits speed of vehicles precisely because of the dangers mentioned in the previous bullet. In contrast, processing I/O requests at faster speeds poses no such dangers, so the government poses no limits.
Neither IOPS nor MB/s match MPH exactly.Earlier this week,I related IOPS to "Questions handled per hour" at the local public library, and MB/s to "Spoken words per minute" in those replies. If I tried to find a metric based on unit type to match the "per second" in IOPS and MB/s, then I would need to find a unit that equated to "I/O requests" or "MB transferred" rather than something related to "distance travelled".
In terms of time-based units, the closest I could come up with for IOPS was acceleration rate of zero-to-sixty MPH in a certain number of seconds. Speeding up to 60MPH, then slamming the breaks, and then back up to 60MPH, start-stop, start-stop, and so on, would reflect what IOPS is doing on a requestby request basis, but nobody drives like this (except maybe the taxi cab drivers here in Malaysia!)
Since vehicles are limited to speed limits in normal road conditions, the closest I could come up with for MB/s would be "passenger-miles per hour", such that high-occupancy vehicles like school buses could deliver more passengers than low-occupancy vehicles with only a few passengers.
Neither start-stops nor passenger-miles per hour have standardized benchmarks, so they don't work well for comparisonbetween vehicles.If you or anyone can come up with a metric that will help explain the relevance of standardized benchmarks better than the MPG that I already used, I would be interested in it.
You also mention, Barry, the term "efficiency" but mileage is about "fuel economy".Wikipedia is quick to point out that the fuel efficiency of petroleum engines has improved markedly in recent decades, this does not necessarily translate into fuel economy of cars. The same can be said about the performance of internal bandwidth ofthe backplane between controllers and faster HDD does not necessarily translate to external performance of the disk system as a whole. You correctly point this out in your blog about the DMX-4:
Complementing the 4Gb FC and FICON front-end support added to the DMX-3 at the end of 2006, the new 4Gb back-end allows the DMX-4 to support the latest in 4Gb FC disk drives.
You may have noticed that there weren't any specific performance claims attributed to the new 4Gb FC back-end. This wasn't an oversight, it is in fact intentional. The reality is that when it comes to massive-cache storage architectures, there really isn't that much of a difference between 2Gb/s transfer speeds and 4Gb/s.
Oh, and yes, it's true - the DMX-4 is not the first high-end storage array to ship a 4Gb/s FC back-end. The USP-V, announced way back in May, has that honor (but only if it meets the promised first shipments in July 2007). DMX-4 will be in August '07, so I guess that leaves the DS8000 a distant 3rd.
This also explains why the IBM DS8000, with its clever "Adaptive Replacement Cache" algorithm, has such highSPC-1 benchmarks despite the fact that it still uses 2Gbps drives inside. Given that it doesn't matter between2Gbps and 4Gbps on the back-end, why would it matter which vendor came first, second or third, and why call it a "distant 3rd" for IBM? How soon would IBM need to announce similar back-end support for it to be a "close 3rd" in your mind?
I'll wrap up with you're excellent comment that Watts per GB is a typical "green" metric. I strongly support the whole"green initiative" and I used "Watts per GB" last month to explain about how tape is less energy-consumptive than paper.I see on your blog you have used it yourself here:
The DMX-3 requires less Watts/GB in an apples-to-apples comparison of capacity and ports against both the USP and the DS8000, using the same exact disk drives
It is not clear if "requires less" means "slightly less" or "substantially less" in this context, and have no facts from my own folks within IBM to confirm or deny it. Given that tape is orders of magnitude less energy-consumptive than anything EMC manufacturers today, the point is probably moot.
I find it refreshing, nonetheless, to have agreed-upon "energy consumption" metrics to make such apples-to-apples comparisons between products from different storage vendors. This is exactly what customers want to do with performance as well, without necessarily having to run their own benchmarks or work with specific storage vendors. Of course, Watts/GB consumption varies by workload, so to make such comparisons truly apples-to-apples, you would need to run the same workload against both systems. Why not use the SPC-1 or SPC-2 benchmarks to measure the Watts/GB consumption? That way, EMC can publish the DMX performance numbers at the same time as the energy consumption numbers, and then HDS can follow suit for its USP-V.
I'm on my way back to the USA soon, but wanted to post this now so I can relax on the plane.
This week, July 26-30, 2010, I am in Washington DC for the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University]. As with last year, we have joined forces with the System x team. Since we are in Washington DC this time, IBM added a "Federal Track" to focus on government challenges and solutions. So, basically, offering attendees the option to attend three conferences for one low price.
This conference was previously called the "Symposium", but IBM changed the name to "Technical University" to emphasize the technical nature of the conference. No marketing puffery like "Journey to the Private Cloud" here! Instead, this is bona fide technical training, qualifying attendees to count this towards their Continuing Professional Education (CPE).
(Note to my readers:The blogosphere is like a playground. In the center are four-year-olds throwing sand into each other's faces, while mature adults sit on benches watching the action, and only jumping in as needed. For example, fellow blogger Chuck Hollis (EMC) got sand in his face for promising to resign if EMC ever offered a tacky storage guarantee, and then [failed to follow through on his promise] when it happened.
Several of my readers asked me to respond to another EMC blogger's latest [fistful of sand].
A few months ago, fellow blogger Barry Burke (EMC) committed to [stick to facts] in posts on his Storage Anarchist blog. That didn't last long! BarryB apparently has fallen in line with EMC's over-promise-then-under-deliver approach. Unfortunately, I will be busy covering the conference and IBM's robust portfolio of offerings, so won't have time to address BarryB's stinking pile of rumor and hearsay until next week or later. I am sorry to disappoint.)
This conference is designed to help IT professionals make their business and IT infrastructure more dynamic and, in the process, help reduce costs, mitigate risks, and improve service. This technical conference event is geared to IT and Business Managers, Data Center Managers, Project Managers, System Programmers, Server and Storage Administrators, Database Administrators, Business Continuity and Capacity Planners, IBM Business Partners and other IT Professionals. This week will offer over 300 different sessions and hands-on labs, certification exams, and a Solutions Center.
For those who want a quick stroll through memory lane, here are my posts from past events:
In keeping up with IBM's leadership in Social Media, IBM Systems Lab Services and Training team running this event have their own [Facebook Fan Page] and
[blog]. IBM Technical University has a Twitter account [@ibmtechconfs], and hashtag #ibmtechu. You can also follow me on Twitter [@az990tony].
Fellow Blogger BarryB mentions "chunk size" in his post [Blinded by the light],as it relates to Symmetrix Virtual Provisioning capability. Here is an excerpt:
I mean, seriously, who else but someone who's already implemented thin provisioning would really understand the implications of "chunk" size enough to care?
For those of you who don't know what the heck "chunk size" means (now listen up you folks over at IBM who have yet to implement thin provisioning on your own storage products), a "chunk" is the term used (and I think even trademarked by 3PAR) to refer to the unit of actual storage capacity that is assigned to a thin device when it receives a write to a previously unallocated region of the device.
For reference, Hitachi USP-V uses I think a 42MB chunk, XIV NEXTRA is definitely 1MB, and 3PAR uses 16K or 256K (depending upon how you look at it).
Thin Provisioning currently offered in IBM System Storage N serieswas technically "implemented" by NetApp, and that the Thin Provisioning that will be offered in our IBM XIV Nextrasystems will have been acquired from XIV. Lest I remind you that many of EMC's products were developed by other companies first, then later acquired by EMC, so no need for you to throw rocks from your glass houses in Hopkington.
"Thin provisioning" was first introduced by StorageTek in the 1990's and sold by IBM under the name of RAMAC Virtual Array (RVA). An alternative approach is "Dynamic Volume Expansion" (DVE). Rather than giving the host application a huge 2TB LUN but actually only use 50GB for data, DVE was based on the idea that you only give out 50GB they need now, but could expand in place as more space was required. This was specifically designed to avoid the biggest problem with "Thin Provisioning" which back then was called "Net Capacity Load" on the IBM RVA, but today is now referred to as "over-subscription". It gave Storage Administrators greater control over their environment with no surprises.
In the same manner as Thin Provisioning, DVE requires a "chunk size" to work with. Let's take a look:
On the DS4000 series, we use the term "segment size", and indicate that the choice of a segment size can have some influence on performance in both IOPS and throughput. Smaller segment sizes increase the request rate (IOPS) by allowing multiple disk drives to respond to multiple requests. Large segment sizes increase the data transfer rate(Mbps) by allowing multiple disk drives to participate in one I/O request. The segment size does not actually change what is stored in cache, just what is stored on the disk itself.It turns out in practice there is no advantage in using smaller sizes with RAID 1; only in a few instances does this help with RAID-5 if you can writea full stripe at once to calculate parity on outgoing data. For most business workloads, 64KB or 128KB are recommended. DVE expands by the same number of segments across all disks in the RAID rank, so for example in a 12+P rank using 128KB segment sizes, the chunk size would be thirteen segments, about 1.6MB in size.
SAN Volume Controller
On the SAN Volume Controller, we call this "extent size" and allow it to be various values 64MB to 512MB. Initially,IBM only managed four million extents, so this table was used to explain the maximum amount that could be managedby an SVC system (up to 8 nodes) depending on extent size selected.
IBM thought that since we externalized "segment size" on the DS4000, we should do the same for the SANVolume Controller. As it turned out, SVC is so fast up in the cache, that we could not measure any noticeable performance difference based on extent size. We did have a few problems. First, clients who chose 16MB andthen grew beyond the 64TB maximum addressable discovered that perhaps they should have chosen something larger.Second, clients called in our help desk to ask what size to choose and how to determine the size that was rightfor them. Third, we allowed people to choose different extent sizes per managed disk group, but that preventsmovement or copies between groups. You can only copy between groups that use the same extent size. The generalrecommendation now is to specify 256MB size, and use that for all managed disk groups across the data center.
The latest SVC expanded maximum addressability to 8PB, still more than most people have today in their shops.
Getting smarter each time we introduce new function, we chose 1GB chunks for the DS8000. Based on a mainframebackground, most CKD volumes are 3GB, 9GB, or 27GB in size, and so 1GB chunks simplified this approach. Spreadingthese 1GB chunks across multiple RAID ranks greatly reduced hot-spots that afflict other RAID-based systems.(Rather than fix the problem by re-designing the architecture, EMC will offer to sell you software to help you manually move data around inside the Symmetrix after the hot-spot is identified)
Unlike EMC's virtual positioning, IBM DS8000 dynamic volume expansion does work on CKD volumes for our System z mainframe customers.
The trade-off in each case was between granularity and table space. Smaller chunks allow finer control on the exact amount allocated for a LUN or volume, but larger chunks reduced the number of chunks managed. With our advanced caching algorithms, changes in chunk size did not noticeably impact performance. It is best just to come up with a convenient size, and either configure it as fixed in the architecture, or externalize it as a parameter with a good default value.
Meanwhile, back at EMC, BarryB indicates that they haven't determined the "optimal" chunk size for their newfunction. They plan to run tests and experiments to determine which size offers the best performance, and thenmake that a fixed value configured into the DMX-4. I find this funny coming from the same EMC that won't participate in [standardized SPC benchmarks] because they feel that performance is a personal and private matter between a customer and their trusted storage vendor, that all workloads are different, and you get the idea. Here's another excerpt:
Back at the office, they've taking to calling these "chunks" Thin Device Extents (note the linkage back to EMC's mainframe roots), and the big secret about the actual Extent size is...(wait for it...w.a.i.t...for....it...)...the engineers haven't decided yet!
That's right...being the smart bunch they are, they have implemented Symmetrix Virtual Provisioning in a manner that allows the Extent size to be configured so that they can test the impact on performance and utilization of different sizes with different applications, file systems and databases. Of course, they will choose the optimal setting before the product ships, but until then, there will be a lot of modeling, simulation, and real-world testing to ensure the setting is "optimal."
Finally, BarryB wraps up this section poking fun at the chunk sizes chosen by other disk manufacturers. I don't knowwhy HDS chose 42MB for their chunk size, but it has a great[Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy]sound to it, answering the ultimate question to life, the universe and everything. Hitachi probably went to theirDeep Thought computer and asked how big should their "chunk size" be for their USP-V, and the computer said: 42.Makes sense to me.
I have to agree that anything smaller than 1MB is probably too small. Here's the last excerpt:
Now, many customers and analysts I've spoken to have in fact noted that Hitachi's "chunk" size is almost ridiculously large; others have suggested that 3PAR's chunks are so small as to create performance problems (I've seen data that supports that theory, by the way).
Well, here's the thing: the "right" chunk size is extremely dependent upon the internal architecture of the implementation, and the intersection of that ideal with the actual write distribution pattern of the host/application/file system/database.
So my suggestion to EMC is, please, please, please take as much time as you need to come up with the perfect"chunk size" for this, one that handles all workloads across a variety of operating systems and applications, from solid-state Flash drives to 1TB SATA disk. Take months or years, as long as it takes. The rest of the world is in no hurry, as thin provisioning or dynamic volume expansion is readily available on most other disk systems today.
Maybe if you ask HDS nicely, they might let you ask their computer.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means more IBM announcements!
Today, IBM announced the enhanced IBM System Storage DS3200 disk system.It is in our DS3000 series, the DS3200 is SAS-attach, DS3300 is iSCSI-attach, and DS3400 is FC-attach. All of them support up to 48 drives, which can be a mix of SAS and SATA drives.
The DS3200 supports the following operating environments (see IBM's [Interop Matrix] for details):
Linux (both Linux-x86 and Linux on POWER)
With today's announcements, the DS3200 can be used to boot from, as well as contain data. This is ideal to combine with IBM BladeCenter. With the IBM BladeCenter you can have 14 blades, either x86 or POWER based processors, attached to a DS3200 via SAS switch modules in the back of the chassis.
Let's take an example of how this can be used for a Scale-Out File Services[SoFS] deployment.
First, we start with servers. We can have either three [IBM System x3650] servers, but this would use up all six of the direct-attach ports. Instead, we'll choose the [BladeCenter H chassis], with three HS21 blades for SoFS, and that leaves us with eleven empty blade slots we could put in a management node, or other blades to run applications.
SAS connectivity modules
The IBM BladeCenter [SAS Connectivity Module] allows the blade servers to connect to a DS3200. Two of them fit right in the back of the BladeCenter chassis, providing full redundancy without consuming additional rack space.
DS3200 and EXP3000 expansion drawers
We'll have one DS3200 controller with twelve internal drives, and three expansion EXP3000 drawers with twelve drives each, for a total of 48 drives. Using 1TB SATA, this would be 48 TB raw capacity.
The end result? You get a 48TB NAS scalable storage solution, supporting up to 7500 concurrent CIFS and NFS users, with up to 700 MB/sec with large block transfers. By using BladeCenter, you can expand performance by adding more blades to the Chassis, or have some blades running SAP or Oracle RAC have direct read/write access to the SoFS data.
Just another example on how IBM can bring together all the components of a solution to provide customer value!
Well it's Wednesday, and you know what that means... IBM Announcements.
(Normally, announcements are on Tuesdays, but we moved this one over to Wednesday to line up with our big launch event in Pinehurst, NC. )
A lot was announced today, so I decided to break it up into several separate posts. I will start with our Enterprise Systems: DS8870, TS7700 Release 3, and XIV Gen3.
Enterprise systems are the servers, storage and software at the core of an enterprise IT infrastructure. Enterprise systems enable a private cloud infrastructure at enterprise scale, with flexible service delivery models that provide dynamic efficiency for resource and workload management. They make sure critical data is always available across the enterprise, making it accessible in new ways so that actionable insights can be derived from advanced and operational analytics. They also provide ultimate security, ensuring the integrity of critical data while mitigating risk and providing assured compliance.
IBM System Storage DS8870® disk system
This new storage system is the next generation in IBM's DS8000 series, based on IBM's POWER7 chipset. Each CEC can have 2, 4, 8 or 16 cores. Like the DS8800, you can have a mix of 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch disk drives of different speeds and capacities, up to 1,536 drives in a four-frame configuration. The maximum cache is now 1TB usable. The combination of faster chipset and more cache can triple performance for some workloads!
All DS8870s ship standard with all Full Disk Encryption (FDE-capable) drives. The problem in the past was that people would buy DS8000 with non-FDE drives, and then later want to activate encryption, and discovered that they have to swap out their drives with those with the encryption chip built in. Now, all drives on the DS8870 will have the encryption chip. This also allows Easy Tier sub-volume automated tiering to move encrypted data between all media types.
Flash optimization with DS8000 Easy Tier can improve performance up to 3 times with 3% of data on solid-state storage. Easy Tier is easy to deploy and runs automatically.
Support of the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI) T10 Data Integrity Field (DIF) standard. This is a feature that the mainframe has had for years, and is now being extended to distributed operating systems. The concept is simple. When sending data between server and storage, generate a checksum at the source, and then validate the checksum at the target. When you write a block of data, the server generates the checksum, and the DS8870 validates the checksum on arrival. When you read the data back, the DS8870 generates the checksum, and the server validates it on arrival. This ensures that data was not corrupted in between. There is a great write-up on IBM developerWorks: [End-to-end data protection using T10 standard data integrity field].
Energy Efficient. The DS8870 consumes less energy than its predecessor, the DS8800. For example, a fully-configured four-frame DS8870 with 1,536 disk drives consumes only 23.2kW, compared to the same number of drives in a DS8800 consumed 26.3 kW. By comparison, the DS8700 with five frames and 1,024 drives consumed 29.2kW.
Support for new System z load balancing algorithm. System z Workload Manager now interacts with the DS8870 I/O Priority Manager to optimize designated Quality of Service (QoS) levels. We have also the fastest operational analytics solution with DB2 list Prefetch cache optimization with DS8870 High Performance FICON (zHPF) integration. This solution increases DB2 query performance up to 11 times with disk, and up to 60 times with solid-state drives (SSD). File scans are up to 30 percent faster using DS8870 zHPF support for sequential access methods (QSAM, BPAM, and BSAM).
VMware vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI) support. Why should the IBM DS8800 series support VMware when IBM already offers great VMware support with SAN Volume Controller (SVC), Storwize V7000 and XIV storage sytsems? Good question. This was hotly debated between development and marketing. Several DS8000 customers have already added SVC to provide full VMware VAAI support. As a consultant, I am neither development nor marketing, but felt it necessary to weigh in on my opinion on this. The DS8000 is a consolidation platform. According to one analyst survey, 22 percent of companies run on a single disk platform, so for DS8000 to be the one, it needs to support VMware and exploit these special APIs.
Six Nines Availability. Critical enterprise systems need to deliver continuous data availability, or very close to it. IBM solutions can help deliver up to six “nines” of availability, or 99.9999 percent when combining DS8000 Metro Mirror and GDPS Hyperswap. That's less than 30 seconds of downtime per year.
The TS7700 Release 3 represents a refresh to our existing virtual tape libraries. These are mainframe-only, offered in two models: TS7720 is a disk-only device, and the TS7740 is a blended disk-and-tape solution.
Industry standard hardware encryption. This applies to user data stored on the TS7700 system cache (disk), and for data transferred between TS7700 systems. This is especially important for regulations, like Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). In previous models, the data would not be encrypted until it was moved off disk and written to tape. Now, it is encrypted the minute in lands on the disk cache, and stays encrypted as it is replicated from one TS7700 to another in the grid.
Up to 4 Million logical volume capacity. This is twice the previous support.
More physical capacity for TS7720 systems. The maximum capacity for the disk-only model is raised from 440TB to 620TB, representing a 40 percent increase.
My latest book "Inside System Storage: Volume V" is now available!
I have published my fifth volume in my "Inside System Storage" series! Currently, it is only available in Paperback. My editor, Susan Pollard, is hoping to have the eBook and Hardcover versions ready for Cyber Monday. The foreword was written by my Dr. Sondra Ashmore.
You can order this, and all my other books, in all formats, directly from my [Author Spotlight] page. The paperback will also be available soon from other online booksellers, search for ISBN 978-1-300-26223-7.
Improved Scalability. A new Multi-system Manager (MSM) server reduces the operational complexity for large and multi-site XIV deployments. Previously, admins connected directly to XIV boxes. If you had 10 admins logged in, then every XIV box was managing 10 admin conversations. The new MSM acts as a go-between. The admins connect to the MSM, and the MSM connects to the XIV boxes. The MSM polls and caches the status of each XIV, greatly increasing the number of XIV boxes that an admin can manage.
Enhanced User Interface. A new Multi-system Manager server reduces the operational complexity for large and multi-site XIV deployments. We also added support for IPsec and US. Government (USGv6) certification for admistering the XIV over IPv6 networks. The XIV Mobile Dashboard app for iPhone and iPad is spiffed up. Finally, the GUI has been internationalized and translated to the Japanese language.
Enhanced Integration for Cloud. For OpenStack, XIV now offers a Nova-volume driver which provides persistent storage to OpenStack compute nodes. The Nova task force is now looking to move storage into its own project called Cinder. For VMware, XIV has full support for Site Recovery Manager (SRM) v4.1 and v5.0 releases. XIV now also supports the Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager, which can manage Hyper-V, VMware and Citrix XenServer hypervisors.
Smaller entry point. The original XIV supported 1TB and 2TB drives, with the smallest offering being 27TB usable. When IBM introduced the XIV Gen3, the two choices were 2TB and 3TB disk drives. Unfortunately, this meant that the initial entry model was now 55TB in size, and each additional module would be more expensive as well. IBM is now going to offer 1TB support for XIV Gen3 for a lower price point, these are actually 2TB drives with half the capacity turned off.
Intelligent block-level disk array that virtualizes both internal and external disk storage
8 Gbps FCP and 1GbE iSCSI
IBM Storwize V7000 disk system
Real-time compression appliance for files
10GbE/1GbE CIFS and NFS
Storwize, now an IBM company
IBM Real-time Compression STN-6800 appliance
1GbE CIFS and NFS
IBM Real-time Compression STN-6500 appliance
If you think this is the first time a company like IBM has pulled shenanigans with product names like this, think again. Here are a few posts that might refresh your memory:
In my September 2006 post, [A brand by any other name...] I explain that I started blogging specifically to promote the new "IBM System Storage" product line name, part of the "IBM Systems" brand resulting from merging the "eServer" and "TotalStorage' brands.
In my January 2007 post, [When Names Change], I explain our naming convention for our disk products, including our DS family, SAN Volume Controller and N series.
In my February 2008 post, [Getting Off the Island], I cover how the x/p/i/z designations came about for our various IBM server product lines.
But what about acquisitions? When [IBM acquired Lotus Development Corporation], it kept the "Lotus" brand. New products that fit the "collaboration" function were put under the Lotus brand. I think most people can accept this approach.
But have we ever seen an existing product renamed to an acquired name?
In my post January 2009 post
[Congratulations to Ken on your QCC Milestone], I mentioned that my colleague Ken Hannigan worked on an internal project initially called "Workstation Data Save Facility" (WDSF) which was changed to "Data Facility Distributed Storage Manager" (DFDSM), then renamed to "ADSTAR Distributed Storage Manager" (ADSM), and finally renamed to the name it has today: IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM).
Readers reminded me that [IBM acquired Tivoli Systems, Inc.] in 1996, so TSM could not have been an internally developed product. Ha! Wrong! Let's take a quick history lesson on how this came about:
In the late 1980s, IBM Almaden research had developed a project to backup personal computers and workstations, which they called "Workstation Data Save Facility" or WDSF.
This was turned over to our development team, which immediately discarded the code, and wrote from scratch its replacmeent, called Data Facility Distributed Storage Manager (DFDSM), named similar to the Data Facility products on the mainframe (DFP, DFHSM, DFDSS). As a member of the Data Facility family, DFDSM didn't really fit. The rest processed mainframe data sets, but DFDSM processed Windows and UNIX files. That a version of DFDSM server was available to run on the mainframe was the only connection.
Then, in the early 1990s, there were discussions of possibly splitting IBM into a bunch of smaller "Baby Blues", similar to how [AT&T was split into "Baby Bells"], and how Forbes and Goldman Sachs now want to split Microsoft into [Baby Bills]. IBM considered naming the storage spin-off as ADSTAR, which stood for "Advanced Storage and Retrieval."
Pre-emptively, IBM renamed DFDSM to "ADSTAR Distributed Storage Manager" or ADSM.
Fortunately, in 1993, IBM brought a new sheriff to town, Lou Gerstner, who quickly squashed any plans to split up IBM. He quickly realized that IBM's core strength was building integrated stacks, combining systems, software and services to solve business problems.
In 1996, IBM acquired Tivoli Systems, Inc. to expand its "Systems Management" portfolio, and renamed ADSM over to IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, since "storage management" is an essential part of "systems management". Later, IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center would be renamed to "IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center."
I participated in five months of painful meetings to figure out what to name our new internally-developed midrange disk system. Since it ran SAN Volume Controller software, I pushed for keeping the SVC designation somehow. We considered DS naming convention, but the new midrange product would not fit between our existing DS5000 and DS6000 numbering scheme. A marketing agency we hired came up with nonsensical names, in the spirit of product names like Celerra, Centera and CLARiiON, using name generators like [Wordoid]. Luckily, in the nick of time, IBM acquired Storwize for its compression technology, and decided that Storwize as a name was way better fit than any of the names we came up with already.
However, the new IBM Storwize V7000 midrange product had nothing in common with the appliances acquired from Storwize, the company, so to avoid confusion, the latter products were renamed to [IBM Real-time Compression]. Fellow blogger Steven Kenniston, the Storage Alchemist from Storwize fame now part of IBM from the acquisition, gives his perspective on this in his post [Storwize – What is in a Name, Really?]. While I am often critical of the names and terms IBM uses, I have to say this last set of naming decisions makes a lot of sense to me and I support it wholeheartedly.
In preparation for my [upcoming trip to Australia and New Zealand], I decided to upgrade my smartphone. My service provider T-Mobile offered me the chance to try out any new phone for 14 days for only ten dollar re-stocking fee. For the past 16 months, I have used the Google G1 phone. This is based on a storage-optimized Android operating system, based on open source Linux, with applications processed in a storage-optimized virtual machine called Dalvik, based on open source Java. According to Wikipedia, Android-based phones have #1 market share [outselling both BlackBerry OS and Apple iOS phones]. There are over 70 different companies using Android, driven away from the proprietary interfaces from Apple, BlackBerry and Microsoft.
Since I was already familiar with the Android operating system, I chose the Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant. I liked my G1, but it had only a small amount of internal memory to store applications. The G1 supported an external Micro SDHC card, but this only was used for music and photos. There was no way to install applications on the memory card, so I found myself having to uninstall applications to make room for new ones. By contrast, the Vibrant has 16GB internal memory, plenty of room for all applications, and supports Micro SDHC up to 32GB in size. My model can pre-installed with a 2GB card, of which 1.4GB is consumed by James Cameron's full-length movie Avatar. On the G1, swapping out memory cards was relatively easy. On the Vibrant, you have to take the phone apart to swap out cards, so I won't be doing that very often. I will probably just get a 32GB card and leave it in there permanently.
(FTC disclosure: I work for IBM. IBM has working relationships with Oracle, Google, and lots of other companies. IBM offers its own commercial version of Java related tools. I own stock in IBM, Apple, Google. I have friends and family who work at Microsoft. My review below is based entirely on my own experience of my new Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant phone. Samsung has created different models for different service providers. The T-Mobile Vibrant is an external USB storage device with telephony capabilities, comparable to the AT&T Captivate, Verizon Fascinate, or Sprint Epic 4G. The majority of mobile phones in the world contain IBM technology. This post is not necessarily an endorsement for Samsung over other smartphone manufacturers, nor T-Mobile over other service providers. I provide this information in context of storage optimization, state-of-the-art for smartphones in general, and disputes related to software patents between companies. I hold 19 patents, most of which are software patents.)
When Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, it inherited stewardship of Java. Java is offered in two flavors. Java Standard Edition (SE) for machines that are planted firmly on or below your desk, and Java Micro Edition (ME) for machines that are carried around. Most Java-based phones limit themselves to Java ME, but Google decided to base its smartphones on the more powerful Java SE, but then optimize for the limited storage and computing resources. These two levels of Java have radically different licensing terms and conditions, so Larry Ellison of Oracle cried foul. On The Register, Gavin Clarke has an excellent article with details of the Oracle-vs-Google complaint. Daniel Dilger opines that Oracle [might kill Google’s Android and software patents all at once]. Fellow blogger Mark Twomey (EMC) on his StorageZilla blog, argues that [it's not about Android phones, but Android everything].
My Vibrant is roughly the size of a half-inch stack of 3x5 index cards in my hand. In my humble opinion, the problem is the grey area between mobile phone and the desktop personal computer. Laptops, netbooks, iPads, tablet computers, eBook readers, and smartphones fall somewhere in between. At what point do you stop licensing Java SE and start licensing Java ME instead?
Let's take a look at all the stuff my new Samsung Vibrant can do, and let you decide for yourself. I have 140 applications installed, which I can access alphabetically. I also have up to seven screens which I can fill with application icons and widgets to simplify access. The screen measures about 4 inches diagonally. Click on each image below to see the full 480x800 resolution.
Each screen has five rows. On my first screen, I have the first two rows related to photography. This includes a camera, camcorder, bar-code scanner and visual search engine (Google Goggles). I am not happy with Flickr Droid app in uploading photos, so I might need to find another app for that. Other reviews I read complain that the Vibrant's camera does not have am LED flash for night time shots, and that there is no forward facing camera to do Skype or FaceTime-style videoconferencing. I think it is fine the way it is. An interesting feature of the camera app is that it uses the volume up/down buttons to zoom in and out.
The next two rows related to books and documents. In addition to both Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook eBook readers, I have Dropbox to make it easy to transfer files between all my machines, a camera-scanner that generates PDFs, and ThinkFree, which appears to be based on OpenOffice open source software to create, view and edit WORD documents, EXCEL spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.
My second screen is for music and video entertainment.
The top row is consumed by a single widget for [Pandora], an internet radio station, not to be confused with the Pandora moon that the movie Avatar is based on. I-heart-radio, Slacker, and Last.fm are other internet radio stations. Be careful when roaming in another country, as the $15-per-MB transfer fees can really add up. While the Galaxy S has a built-in FM radio, T-Mobile has decided to disable this feature in its Vibrant model, in favor of internet-based radio stations.
I am glad the Samsung Vibrant uses the same 3.5mm combo audio jack that I mentioned in my blog post about my
[New ThinkPad T410]. This allows me to use the same headset for both my laptop and my cell phone.
For those who use Microsoft Windows Media Player v10 or above, this phone lets you transfer over your songs, playlists and videos via the USB cable in PMC mode. The TED application shows 18-minute videos of lectures at conferences that focus on Technology, Entertainment and Design. MobiTV offers live streaming of popular Television shows, normally ten dollars monthly, but I got a free 30-day trial in the deal.
Screen 3 is focused on travel. I have a 30-day free trial of GoGo, the new Wi-Fi networks on various airlines. Hopefully, I will get to try this out on my upcoming flights. When GoGo is not available, the Extended Controls widget allows me to turn the phone into "Airplane mode", which would allow me to read eBooks and listen to pre-recorded music and videos stored on my phone. Most of the apps on Android are free, but Extended Controls, shown here in the top row, cost me money but well worth it. With this you can customize different size widgets with all the appropriate setting toggles you want. On this one, I can toggle Wi-Fi, Data transfer, GPS positioning, and Airplane mode.
Google Maps, Google Places and Google Sky Map are all well represented here. I also like TripIt, which is a free Software-as-a-Service for managing your trip itenerary, and syncs up with their online website. Currency and Language translation can help on international travel. The standard Alarm Clock also includes Time Zone conversion as well.
My screen 4 is my central home page. There are four buttons on the bottom of the phone: Menu, Home, Back, and Search. Hit the "Home" button on any screen, and it jumps immediately to Screen 4. From here, I can get to any of the other screens with just swiping my finger across the surface. Therefore, I chose to keep this screen simple.
For meetings, I have a big clock, and an Extended Controls widget to set my phone on silent/vibrate mode, and show my battery status. I put icons here for apps that I might need in a hurry, like Camera, Evernote, or Shazam. For those not familiar with Shazam, it will listen to the microphone for whatever song is playing in the background where you are, and it will identify the song's title and artist.
The "Starred" folder lists those five or so contacts that I have marked with a "star" to be on this short list. From here, I can call or send them an SMS text message.
Screen 5 is for office productivity. I have a 2x2 widget from Astrid to list my to-do items. I have a 1x2 widget showing my last call. My calendar syncs up with my Google calendar online.
The Locale widget allows me to change which on-screen keyboard to use. There is the standard Android keyboard which allows voice-to-text input, the Samsung keyboard that offers [XT9 mode], and the new ["Swype"] keyboard that allows you to write words quickly with squiggles swiped across the keyboard. The Swype is incredible accurate when I am typing in English. When I am communicating in Spanish, it gets in the way, spell-checking when it shouldn't.
Screen 6 is for my social media, news and search facilities. I have HootSuite Lite for managing my Twitter and Facebook posts. For news junkies, NPR, USA Today and CNN all offer mobile versions.
I have a selection of browsers, including Opera Mini 5, and Dolphin Browser HD. The latter offers a variety of special add-ons similar to Firefox on a desktop system. I also have specialty search sites, including the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), Fandango for local movie times, and Dex for local phone listings.
Screen 7 is for system administration. The top row is another "Extended Controls" widget, this time to change between 2G and 3G networks, brightness setting, set the the time-out interval for when the screen should automatically shut off, and a "stay awake" to turn off the screen saver altogether.
I can do some really powerful things here. For example, I have an application to let me use secure shell (ssh) to access our systems at work. I also can "tether" my laptop to my Vibrant, for those few times when Wi-Fi is not available, to let my laptop use the phone's signal as a dial-up modem. It is slower than Wi-Fi, but might be just what I need in a pinch.
The bottom row is the same across all seven screens, which you can customize. I left the bottom row in its original default, with options to make phone calls, look up contacts, and send text messages. The bottom right corner launches a list of all applications alphabetically, to access those not on my seven main screens.
Just in case I switch to a local SIM card while abroad in another country, I asked T-mobile to unlock my phone, which they happily did at no additional charge. For example, while I am in Australia, I can either leave my T-Mobile USA chip in the phone, and pay roaming charges per minute, or I can purchase a SIM chip from a local phone company with pre-paid minutes. This often includes unlimited free incoming calls to a local Australian phone number, and voicemail.
Unlocking the phone to use different SIM cards is different than "jailbreaking", a term that refers to Apple's products. For Android phones, jailbreaking is called "rooting", as the process involves getting "root" user access that you normally don't have. The only reason I have found to have my phone "rooted" was to take these lovely screen shots, using the "Screen Shot It" application. This is another application that I paid for. I used the free trial for a few screenshots first to check it out, liked the results, and bought the application.
So, this new smartphone looks like a keeper. I got a screen protector to avoid scratching, and a two-piece case that snaps around the phone to give it more heft. All my chargers are "Mini USB" for my old G1 phone, and this new Vibrant phone is "Micro USB" instead, so I had to order new ones for my car, my office, and for my iGo (tip A97).
This review is more to focus on the fact that the IT industry is changing, and what was traditionally performed on personal computers are now being done on new handheld devices. Android provides a platform for innovation and healthy competition. Let's all hope Oracle and Google can work out their differences amicably.
Continuing my saga for my [New Laptop], I have gotten all my programs operational, transferred and organized all my data, and now ready for testing. You can read my previous posts on this series: [Day 1], [Day 2], [Day 3], [Day 4].
At this point, you might be thinking, "Testing? Just use your laptop already, deal with problems as you find them!" In my case, I need to sign off that the new laptop meets my needs, and then send back my previous laptop, wiped clean of all passwords and data. I have until the end of June to do this.
The value of testing is to avoid problems later, perhaps an inconvenient time such as a business trip or client briefing. It is better to work out any issues while I am still in the office, connected to the internal IBM intranet on a high-speed wired connection. Also, I plan to do a Physical-to-Virtual (P-to-V) conversion of my Windows XP C: drive to run as a virtual guest OS on Linux, so I want to make sure the image is in working order before the conversion. That said, here is what my testing encountered.
Of the 134 applications I had identified as being installed on my old laptop, I determined that I only needed about 70 of them. The others I did not bother to install on the new.
I had not thought about "addons" and "plugins" that I have that attach themselves inside browsers or other applications. I made sure that Flash, Shockwave and Java worked correctly on all three browsers: IE6, Firefox and Opera.
One of my "plugins" is an application called [iSpring Pro, which plugs into Microsoft PowerPoint. I thought I had Microsoft Office installed, but found out the standard IBM build had only the viewers. I installed Microsoft Office 2003 Standard Edition with PowerPoint, Excel and Word. I then realized that I did not have the original V4.3 installation file for iSpring Pro, so I downloaded the latest v5 from their website. However, my license key is only for version 4, so a quick email got this resolved, and the nice folks at iSpring Solutions sent me the v4.3 installation file.
Shameless Plug: We use iSpring Pro to record our voices with PowerPoint slides to generate web videos for the [IBM Virtual Briefing Center] which we use to complement face-to-face briefings. This allows attendees to review introductory materials to prepare for their visit to Tucson, or to stay up-to-date on products and features in between annual visits. If you have not checked out the IBM Virtual Briefing Center, now is a good time to see what videos and other resources we have out there. You can even request to schedule a briefing in Tucson!
Testing out iSpring Pro, I realized that there are no jacks for my headset. On my old ThinkPad T60, I had two jacks, one green for headphone and one pink for microphone. My headset has two cables, one for each, which I then use for the recordings. I also use this for online webinars and training sessions. Apparently, ThinkPad T410 went for a single 3.5mm "Combo" audio jack that handles both roles. Fortunately, there is a [Headset Buddy] adapter that merges the two cables from my headset to the combo jack on my new laptop. I ordered one which will arrive some time next week.
My new laptop doesn't fit my old docking station either. I had set the docking station aside while I had the two laptops latched together for the file transfers, but now that I am done with the old laptop, I discovered that my new T410 doesn't fit. I ordered a new one.
Using find, grep, awk, sort and uniq, I was able to generate a list of all the file extensions on my Documents foler. I was able to find old Lotus 123, Freelance Graphics, and Wordpro files. I thought Lotus Symphony would handle these, but it does not. I was able to install an old version of Lotus Smartsuite that includes these programs so that I can process these files.
I also found in the extensions list pptx, docx and xlsx files, which represent the new Microsoft Office 2007 formats. I installed the "Format Compatability Pack" that allows Office 2003 read these files.
Lastly, I installed a few programs that support a wide variety of file formats. VideoLAN's [VLC] plays a variety of audio and video files. [7-Zip] packs and unpacks a variety of archive files. (Note: Another program, BitZipper, also supports a variety of archive formats, but the install will corrupt your Firefox and IE browsers with new tool bars, change your search engine default, and install a lot of other unwanted software. Cleaning up the mess can be time-consuming. You have been warned!) I also installed [MadEdit], a binary/hex/text editor that will open any file to see what kind of format it has inside. From this, I was able to determine that some of my extension-less files were GIF, RTF or PDF format, and rename them accordingly.
With the testing done, I am ready to go wipe my old system of all passwords and data!