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Before dinner, I was able to catch up with my colleagues from across the pond. Here I am pictured with Ola Surowiec, a Power Systems sales specialist from Scotland.
The dinner was set up as self-service buffet style, with choices of European, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. This is largely the heritage of the Ottoman empire to provide a fusion of flavors from its neighbors.
The city of Istanbul is considered the border between Europe and Asia, with one side of the city on the "European" side, and the other side of the Bosphorus strait being the "Asian" side.
With a population of over 14 million, Istanbul forms one of the largest urban agglomerations in Europe, second largest in the Middle East and the third-largest city in the world by population within its city limits.
The entertainment started with two [belly dancers], one male and one female. (IBM is an equal opportunity employer!) For those not familiar with this particular form of performance art, it is improvised folk dances based on torso articulation and abdominal movements.
I have seen dancers before in Egypt, the country that most people associate with the origin of belly dancing, but the Turkish version is considered more energetic and athletic. Certainly both of our dancers were quite flexible.
This was followed by a live cover band that played the latest English-language hits. Several Americans at the table asked "Wait? We come all the way to Turkey and the local band sings the songs in English?"
In the corner, attendees were invited to dress up as their favorite sultan to take photograph. Here for example, are some of the members of the STU event team. Mo McCullough, Don Meyer, Marlin Maddy, Glenn Anderson and Alex Abderrazag pose with two lovely local ladies in full costume.
The word "sultan" derives from the Arabic word meaning "strength", "authority" or "power". Sultans ruled the Turkish empire from 1299 to 1922.
The [Topkapi palace], where I visited earlier in the week, contains clothing on display of the sultans and princes from the second half of the 15th century to the early 20th century.
The first official day of the [Systems Technical University 2014] conference had keynote sessions in the morning. The conference features experts from IBM Power Systems, IBM System x, IBM PureSystems, and IBM System Storage.
The keynote sessions were started with Amy Purdy, IBM Director of Technical Training Services, the group that is running this conference.
This conference is not focused on System z solutions, as many of the System z clients were in New York City for this birthday event, but it came up several times during the keynote sessions.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM, and this blog post may be considered a paid, celebrity endorsement of IBM products and services. IBM has business relationship with both Intel and Amazon mentioned during the course of the keynote sessions, but I have no financial stake in either company. I was the chief architect for DFSMS, the storage management component of the z/OS mainframe operating system, and was part of the team that ported Linux to the System z mainframe.)
Nicolas Sekkaki, IBM Vice President of Systems and Technology Group in Europe, discussed IBM's commitment to client's privacy, the x86 and POWER server platforms, and a variety of mind-bogging announcements. He is focused on three trends: Big Data, Cloud, and Mobile.
IBM is focusing its hardware efforts on high-value, high-margin solutions such as System Storage, POWER Systems and System zEnterprise mainframe environments. Did you know that 65 percent of the world's business transactions are processed by either POWER systems or System zEnterprise mainframe?
IBM is also extending its continued focus on Linux and Open Source initiatives. For the System zEnterprise mainframes, 78 percent of our clients run Linux on System z. Over 290 clients have added the "zBX" option that allows them to run Windows and AIX on the mainframe as well. It is now less expensive to run workloads on System zEnterprise -- about 1 dollar per day per server -- than public cloud offerings from Amazon Web Services. Linux on POWER also has lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) than Linux-x86.
Nicolas also mentioned major changes for the POWER Systems, starting with the [OpenPOWER Consortium], formed by IBM, Google, Mellanox, NVIDIA and Tyan.
The move makes POWER hardware and software available to open development for the first time as well as making POWER Intellectual Property licensable to others, greatly expanding the ecosystem of innovators on the platform. The consortium will offer open-source POWER firmware, the software that controls basic chip functions. By doing this, IBM and the consortium can offer unprecedented customization in creating new styles of server hardware for a variety of computing workloads.
IBM POWER has switched from being "Big Endian" to being "Bi-Endian", allowing operating systems to choose between "Big Endian" or "Little Endian" modes. The Big Endian mode allows for Linux compatibility with the System zEnterprise mainframe, and the Little Endian mode for compatibility with Linux-x86.
Thorston Kahrmann, Intel Account Director for EMEA, presented Intel's rich history of collaboration with IBM, from technologies like BlueTooth and PCiE Generation 3, to platforms like BladeCenter and NeXtScale, to Industry Standards.
IBM had a lot of "firsts" in the x86 server area, including the first 16-processor server, the first to offer hot-swap memory, and over 100 leading performance benchmarks.
The latest Intel Xeon chip is the E7 version 2. For example, changing from DB2 v10.1 on the old E7, to running DB2 BLU columnar acceleration on the new E7 version 2, resulted in a 148 times increase in performance. A query on a 10TB database that previously took four hours was completed in under 90 seconds.
Thorston also wanted to remind the audience that nearly every System Storage product from IBM, from the high-end XIV, SAN Volume Controller, SONAS and FlashSystem V840, to midrange and entry level Storwize products, are all based on Intel's x86 processors.
Louise covered the findings from the latest 2012 CEO study, gathering insight from 1709 CEO interviews. The major focus areas for CEOs are:
Empowering employees through company-wide values
Engaging customers as individuals, rather than via demographics
Amplifying innovation with strategic and tactical partnerships
With smartphones, tablets and ubiquitous Internet access, everyone is now a technologist, so that IT is now becoming a competitive differentiator. IT projects and Business projects are no longer separate. If your IT department is seen as an expense, it will continue to get its budget cut. If, however, your IT department is part of your revenue stream, then it can be viewed as an asset.
Sadly, over 75 percent of IT projects fail, either are way over budget, delivered late, or some combination of the two. Business leaders are pushing for IT improvements, but often CIOs are too afraid to take the risks to move the business forward. Louise cited three reasons for this, which she called the three C's:
The IT and Business leaders did not full understand the context of the project.
The content of the project was not properly defined between IT and Business architects.
The collaboration between IT and Business personnel was not properly established.
Louise wrapped up her session with asking a simple question: How much is the cost of a light bulb. Some might focus on the cost of the bulb itself, while others might add the cost of maintenance, having ladders and personnel to replace them as needed, and others might include the electricity consumed. Both Business and IT leaders need to focus on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in their planning.
I presented IBM's Smarter Storage Strategy. This is focused on three key areas:
Data-intensive Solutions. Storage is needed for Big Data analytics. IBM is focused on efficiency in all dimensions: capacity efficiency with data footprint reduction techniques, energy efficiency, administrator efficiency with ease-of-use interfaces, and reduced complexity.
Business-critical workloads. Storage needs to allow business to prioritize which applications and workloads are most critical, and automate Quality of Service (QoS) for each application based on its business importance. The result is a balance between performance and cost across the spectrum of applications.
Start quickly and add value. IBM is committed to support private, hybrid and public cloud deployments. Storage needs to support not just VMware, but also Hyper-V, KVM, PowerVM and z/VM. That is why IBM is a platinum sponsor for the OpenStack foundation.
Eric Aquaronne presented an excellent session on OpenStack foundation, an open source collaboration of various companies to bring a consistent Cloud-management standard across compute, storage and network resources.
Replication for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
I have been involved with Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery my entire 28-year career at IBM System Storage, so when I was asked to cover BC/DR in 75 minutes, I focused just on aspects related to disk-to-disk replication.
I divided the presentation into three sections:
Business priorities. You need to prioritize which business processes are most important, and prioritize your recovery accordingly.
Technical implementation. Once priorities are set, there are seven "Business Continuity Tiers" to choose from. BC Tier 1 is the least expensive, recovering from physical tapes stored in an off-site vault. The fastest recovery is BC Tier 7, which automates the storage, server and network fail-over to a secondary site in as little as 30 minutes.
Ongoing management. Just setting up a BC/DR implementation is not enough. It needs to be monitored to ensure that it continues to provide the protection you expect. BC/DR exercises should be performed one or more times per year to ensure that everyone has the skills and procedures documented to succeed in the event of a real disaster.
Of these seven BC tiers, BC Tier 6 is focused on storage replication, such as Metro or Global mirror available on our DS8000, XIV Storage System, SONAS and SAN Volume Controller. BC Tier 7 involves system automation, such as Tivoli Distributed Disaster Recovery Manager and GDPS.
What is Big Data? Architectures and Practical Use Cases
This session was an expanded version of the one I gave in Belgium last year. Big Data is a big topic, and there are a variety of "big data" related sessions at this conference. I focused on three key areas:
The change in the role of Storage Administrator. In the past, most of the data was structured and stored in databases, managed by database administrators. However, in today's environment, over 80 percent of the data is unstructured, outside of traditional relational databases, so either the database administrators need to learn new skills, or storage administrators will need to step up and help manage this unstructured data content.
The change in the role of Business Analyst. We are no longer just looking at the financial consequences of patterns and trends. The new role of Data Scientist needs to apply statistical models, show some business acumen, and be able to "tell a story" that is supported by the data when communicating findings to Business and IT leaders.
The change in the role of Decision Maker. In the past, Decision Support Systems were available only to the top-level business executives. Now, empowered employees have access to real-time analytics that can help them make decisions and take immediate actions.
This session packed the house, with standing room only. I would like to offer a special thanks to IBM VP Bob Sutor, Stephen Brodsky, Linton Ward, and Ralph McMullen in helping me finalize my presentation.
Continuing coverage of the [Systems Technical University 2014] conference, we had an early morning awards ceremony to celebrate top sellers that led big wins in Europe for FlashSystems, XIV, Power Systems, and PureSystems.
Afterwards, there were several breakout sessions on day 2.
Storage Technology Futures -- fresh from IBM research labs, tomorrow in your datacenter
Axel Koester presented several projects from IBM Research labs that have contributed to actual products, including the incredible scalability of [PERCS] that was incorporated into IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS).
Cloud Storage and Active Cloud Engine
My presentation started off explaining the taxonomy of cloud storage. There are basically four kinds of cloud storage: persistent storage, ephemeral storage, hosted storage, and reference storage. Each of these has unique access patterns and service level requirements.
IBM has three distinct cloud storage offerings, so I covered IBM XIV Storage Systems, SONAS and Storwize V7000 Unified with Active Cloud Engine, and Linear Tape File System (LTFS) Enterprise Edition (LTFS-EE).
FlashSystem competitive overview
Henrik Wilken provided an excellent presentation comparing IBM FlashSystems to the dozen or more competitors that offer all-flash or hybrid flash-and-disk combinations.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center
From 2001 to 2003, I was the chief architect for what is now called Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. It continues to be the top most requested topic for briefings at the IBM Tucson Executive Briefing Center.
I presented an overview of Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, with a brief update on what's new in TPC 5.2.1 and the SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center v5.2.1 releases.
IBM Archive Storage Solutions - Data Retention for Government Compliance and Industry Regulations
I can't believe it has been nine years since I was on the Product Development Team for the IBM DR550 Data Retention storage solution!
In this session, I explained the lessons we learned from the DR550, its successor the Information Archive, and how we now position System Storage Archive Manager (SSAM) software as their replacement. SSAM was recently certified by KPMG to meet a variety of US, European and International laws.
Step Right Up! Take your presentation skills to the next level
Glenn Anderson presented this session under the guise of "Professional Development". Whether you are new to public speaking and looking for some guidance, or are an experienced A-list celebrity looking to gain a few pointers, this session covered it all.
Some of my favorites:
Presentations are not Documentation! If a presentation had all the information to stand on its own, nobody would even bother to listen to the speaker. Many new presenters have 3-4 lines for titles, and too many words in small font to ensure they cover all the details to speak on. Don't do it. My rule of thumb is that 50 percent of the information is conveyed verbally, and the other 50 percent visually from the presentation.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. I couldn't agree more. I try to focus on my core message in my presetations. I am a big fan of the [KISS principle] which stands for "Keep it simple, stupid!"
VOICE - Victory over inconsistent conscious energy! There is nothing more painful than hearing a public speaker who talks to softly, too loudly, or in a monotone manner. Mix it up! If you want to capture someone's attention, whisper! Vary your volume for effect.
Presenting is like Pouring Wine. At cocktail parties, the hosts will walk around with the bottle, and refill the glasses of those who are actively drinking the wine, but leave alone those who haven't sipped a drop. Public speakers need to focus on the needs of those in the audience paying close attention, and ignore people who are asleep, paying attention to their laptops and smartphones, or otherwise distracted.
Don't memorize - Extemporize. Too often, new speakers try to memorize their entire presentation. This doesn't go well, and can end up looking like an actor on live stage forgetting his next line. Instead, focus on getting the general idea across in a more natural conversational tone.
Building Open Clouds on POWER Systems
Mandie Quartly presented the excitement of building a cloud using IBM's new Linux-only line of PowerLinux™ servers, KVM, virsh, virtio and OpenStack interfaces. Jeff Scheel was on hand to interject bits of wisdom throughout her session.
IBM is investing heavily into the Linux side of all of its servers, and the latest investments have been focused on the POWER systems.
Storage Clouds in the Big Blue Sky
Dick Vogelsang presented this session focused mostly on the "Self-service" aspect of Cloud Storage. While this sounded like it would be similar to my session from yesterday, it was actually quite different.
Vogelsang explained SmartCloud Storage Access, and compared this to how competitors are providing (or not providing) self-service provisioning of file spaces and LUNs. He gave examples based on VMware, Hyper-V, and OpenStack Foundation.
It is interesting the angle or spin that each speaker gave to each topic!
Johann Weiss, Jim Blue and I joined several other local experts to answer questions and respond to comments and suggestions attendees had about IBM System Storage products and solutions. Here is a sample:
I would like to add 1TB of Flash to our FlashSystem 810 and have the system automatically re-stripe across this new capacity non-disruptively?
How can I have XIV systems at two datacenters in an active/active configuration that would allow me to vMotion from one location to the other non-disruptively?
Put them behind the SAN Volume Controller in Stretched Cluster mode.
What about a similar active/active but for NAS?
IBM N series.
I would like HyperSwap on the SVC/Storwize family like the DS8000 offers for AIX?
When will IBM offer a multi-frame XIV?
The "Hyper-Scale" set of features lets you logically connect 144 XIV frames together and treat as a single system. There is no need to physically bolt them together, since the communication is done over standard network switches.
When will IBM devices have native FCoE support?
All IBM System Storage products work within an FCoE framework today, either with native FCoE support, or through Top-of-Rack switches splitting out the traffic between IP and FCP traditional networks. IBM Storwize and N series products support FCoE natively, and any disk behind virtualized by SAN Volume Controller or Storwize can be access via FCoE hosts because of this support.
What is FLAPE?
FLAPE is the combination of Flash and Tape. Both of these technologies are improving over 40 percent year-to-year, but disk is slowing down to 20 percent improvement. It is possible to combine Flash and tape systems, such as IBM LTFS-EE or IBM ProtecTIER TS7600 series.
Only the Storwize V7000 Unified supports file modules to add NAS capabilities, what can IBM offer us that is smaller for NAS deployments, perhaps a Storwize V5000 Unified or Storwize V3700 Unified?
Consider the IBM N3000 series.
Other storage vendors indicate that RAID-5 and RAID-6 are running out of steam, are no longer practical to protect ever growing capacities of disk. What is IBM planning in this area?
IBM XIV Storage System was one of the first to offer a distributed RAID that addresses many of the RAID-5/RAID-6 drive rebuild concerns. IBM DCS3700 and DCS3860 also have Dynamic Disk Pooling to reduce drive rebuild impact. Lastly, IBM GPFS now offers Native RAID support, used in the IBM GPFS Storage Server.
Is it true that GPFS is NFS only?
Do not confuse GPFS the file system with the various storage offerings that are based on GPFS. IBM SONAS and Storwize V7000 Unified, both based on GPFS, support CIFS, NFS, HTTPS, SCP and FTP. IBM GPFS Storage Server can be configured to access GPFS natively, or you can run NFS v3/v4 server to make those protocols available. With Microsoft [Windows Storage Server], you can provide CIFS access to any GPFS-based storage solution.
LTFS-EE sounds like an exciting alternative to IBM Tivoli Storage Manager HSM space management for moving data from disk to tape. Do you agree?
Yes, we agree. However, TSM HSM space management supports a broader set of file systems. LTFS-EE only provides disk-to-tape movement for IBM GPFS.
Why does the DS8000 implementation of Easy Tier sub-LUN automated tiering support three tiers, but SVC/Storwize only support two tiers?
The same software engineering team works on both, but develop new features for the DS8000 first, get it working, then port it over to the Storwize family. At times, there might be gaps between what is supported on the latest DS8000 version and what is available on Storwize family products.
In an SVC Stretched Cluster, I would like to have the third quorum disk connected over the IP network, rather than FCP.
Personally, I enjoy these interchanges. They are sometimes called "Birds-of-a-Feather" or BOF at some conferences, "Free-for-All" at others. At IBM conferences, they are often titled "Meet the Experts". Whatever you call it, the questions and feedback on what clients are thinking are quite useful for product planning and prioritization of future planned features.
New Generation Storage Tiering: Less Management, Lower Investment and Increased Performance
This was not just an update to my session last year in Brussels, Belgium. Rather, I decided to start over and focus I/O density as the metric to focus my efforts, armed with real data from Intelligent Storage Tiering Analysis (ISTA) studies done at various clients. From that, I was able to talk about storage tiering on three fronts:
Storage tiering between Flash and disk. IBM FlashSystem and IBM Easy Tier on DS8000 and Storwize family for hybrid Flash-and-disk configurations.
Storage tiering between disk and tape. HSM and Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) on SONAS, Storwize V7000 Unified and LTFS-EE.
Storage tiering automation across your entire environment. ISTA studies can help identify a target mix of Tier 0, Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 storage. SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center can recommend or perform the movement of LUNs to more appropriate tiers, based on age and I/O density measurements.
Next Generation FlashSystem 840 and V840, Architecture Deep Dive
Detlef Helmbrecht, from the IBM Advanced Technical Skills team in Germany, presented this deep dive in our latest IBM FlashSystem offerings. He started with an analogy. Latency is like a single car driving down an empty highway. IOPS, on the other hand, is like a lot of cars stuck in slow traffic, with all lanes filled on the autobahn. While there are more cars transported on a full highway, the individual cars are not driving very fast. Flash versus disk has similar comparisons.
Detlef explained the differences between the previous FlashSystem 810/820 with the new 840, as well as talk about the FlashAdapter 90 now available as a PCIe card.
Finally, we talked about SAN Volume Controller combined with Flash, and the new FlashSystem V840 which combines SVC and FlashSystem 840 to have an incredibly function-rich, robust solution.
Data Footprint Reduction - Understanding IBM Storage Efficiency Options
My last session of the week! This session covered all of the various technologies for data footprint reduction, including Thin Provisioning, Space-efficient FlashCopy and snapshots, Real-time compression and data deduplication. Frankly, I wasn't expecting many people to attend the last session of the last day, but nearly 50% of the seats were filled, so I was quite pleased on the turn-out.
Fun Fact: Istanbul is considered by TripAdvisor in 2014 as the #1 most popular city to visit in Europe!
Want to hear the latest technical information about IBM Storage, but not willing to wait until the big [IBM Edge Conference] this September? We will have a variety of "Systems Technical University" events in the next few weeks in a variety of locations.
In the United States, I will be presenting several topics at the following:
Atlanta, GA -- April 12-14
San Francisco, CA -- May 10-12
Chicago, IL -- May 18-20
Boston, MA -- June 7-9
Here's my schedule for the one in Atlanta:
Introduction to Object Storage and its Applications with Cleversafe
Software Defined Storage -- Why? What? How?
Integration between Spectrum Scale and Cleversafe
IBM Spectrum Scale for File and Object storage
What Is Big Data? Architectures and Practical Use Cases
New Generation of Storage Tiering: Less Management, Lower Cost and Increased Performance
The Pendulum Swings Back -- Understanding Converged and Hyperconverged Environments
Sometimes, it's difficult to explain the products I manage to people outside the IT storage industry. How do you explain FCP vs. FICON, Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR) heads, the SMI-S interface, etc. enough to then explain how your job relates to those technologies. At least my friends and family read this blog, so they can somewhat understand some of the things I am working on. When I visit my folks on Sundays, we sometimes discuss items they read in my blog that week.
In addition to a "take your children to work day", we have discussed within IBM a "take your parents to work day", especially for the young new hires who have a hard time explaining what their new job is to the rest of their family.
The problem is not just your parents, but any of your co-workers old enough to be parents who haven't bothered to keep up with the latest advancements in Web 2.0 technology. Here are some examples:
A project leader working with a technology partner asked if me if there was a difference between a "blog" and a "wiki" and which should his team use. This was not a simple yes/no answer, and involved some explanation, conversation and understanding of what he was trying to accomplish.
For one of my meetings, someone instant-messaged me asking where it was, was it "face-to-face" (F2F) or Conference call (CC). I replied back, "A2A w/CC" (avatar-to-avatar with voice over conference call). When you are meeting other avatars in-world in Second Life, it gets quite distracting having everyone typing away, with their hands and fingers moving furiously, so we use a conference call to complement our 3D interaction.
That's why I was very excited to seeLinden Lab announces voice beta in Second Life. It won't be fully ready until later this year, but adding voice to Second Life will greatly reduce the hurdles we now have trying to coordinate conference calls with in-world activity.
I realize not everyone can keep up with all the new and different technologies, but the social networking aspects of some of these new developments are worth looking into.
We have successfully arrived to Mumbai, India. Since this is my first time in India, I decidedto check out the town by going to the local McDonald's® restaurant. As a former software engineer of McDonald's, I love the food, and try to visit a McDonald's in every country I visit. Wikipedia calls our transportation an [Auto Rickshaw], but the locals called it a "tuk-tuk". This is not my first time in one, they have them in Thailand and Mexico as well.
We had the hotel identify the address of the closest McDonald's to our hotel. From past experienceI know that tuk-tuk drivers will suggest alternatives, in an effort to earn a larger fare, or to redirectto a preferred location where the driver might get special kick-backs. Our driver was no different.
The traffic was treacherous, the roadswere in roughshod condition, and sad looking stray dogs digging through piles of rubbish were everywhere. The local "Daily News and Analysis" newspaper this week estimates that there are over 70,000 stray dogs in Mumbai alone.What to do with all of these strays is a matter of controversy. In preparation for the Olympic games, China hasasked its restaurants to [take"dog" off their menus].Having lived in one of the poorest countries, and one of the richest, nothing surprises me anymore.
My IBM colleague, Curtis Neal, decided to join me for this adventure. Finally, after about 20 minutes, our driver parks the tuk-tuk. He told us the restaurant is only aboutthree blocks away by foot, he would allow us to treat him to lunch, and then he will take us back to the hotel.While we appreciated his fantastic imagination, we told him we just wanted to be taken one-way to the restaurant, to drop us off at the front door, and we would find another tuk-tuk for the return.
After a bit of argument, we settled on being left only one block away, and we would walk the rest.While we could not see exactly where the restaurant was when we got out, he at least pointed us in the right direction.
The problem was that we approached the restaurant from behind, and came up to its equivalent of a "drive thru" window,ordered our food, and then went to the second window to pick up our order. We were eating on the street. It was not until I decided to take this photo of the restaurant, that we discovered there was an entire seating area upstairs, and around the cornerthe main entrance!
There were plenty of tuk-tuks picking up and dropping people off, so we have no idea why ourprevious driver was unwilling to take us the entire distance.
Cows are sacred here in India, so thereare no beef-based hamburgers to choose from. My choices for sandwiches were:
Since my nutritionist asked me to avoid carbs and fried foods, I chose the McChicken with cheese combo meal with fries and a Coke.
Getting back was also a challenge. While we had no problem haling a tuk-tuk, we had no idea the address of ourhotel, and our driver had no idea where it was. We ended up driving around the city until we found a differenthotel, asked them if they knew where it was, and then eventually getting to our hotel. This is something I shouldhave planned for in advance, getting a card with the hotel details on it before leaving.
While it might seem like a simple trip, Curtis and I probably learned more about India this way than spending a week inside the comforts of our hotel.
Well, this has been an interesting two weeks. On week 1, I focused on IBM's strategy and four keysolutions areas: Information Availability, Information Security, Information Retention, and InformationCompliance. On week 2, I focused on individual products, their attributes, features and functions.Which week drew more blog traffic? You guessed it--week 1. Apparently, people want to know more aboutsolutions to their challenges and problems, and not just see what piece part components are available.
While IBM had switched over to solution-selling a while ago, some of our competitors are still inproduct-selling mode, and try to frame all competitive comparisons on a product-by-product basis.In my post[Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I drew the analogy that the IT supermarkets (IBM, HP, Sun and Dell) are focusedon selling solutions, but the IT specialty shops (HDS, EMC, and others) are still focused on products.
Certainly, the transition from product-focused to solution-focused is not an easy one. As the IT industry matures, more and more clients are looking to buy solutions from theirvendors. What does it take to change behaviour of newly acquired employees, recently hired sales reps, and business partners, many of whom come from product-centric cultures, to match this dramatic shift in the marketplace? Let's take a look at change in other areas of the world.
On the[Freakonomics blog], Stephen Dubner discusses how clever people in Israel have figured out a way to get people to clean up after their pets in public places. This is a problem in many countries. Here we see an old idea, the [carrot-and-stick] approach, combined with newinformation technology. Here's an excerpt:
"In order to keep a city’s streets clean of dog poop, require dog owners to submit DNA samples from their pets when they get licenses; then use that DNA database to trace any left-behind poop and send the dogs’ owners stiff fines.
Well, it took three years but the Israeli city of Petah Tikva has actually put this plan to work:
The city will use the DNA database it is building to match feces to a registered dog and identify its owner.
Owners who scoop up their dogs’ droppings and place them in specially marked bins on Petah Tikva’s streets will be eligible for rewards of pet food coupons and dog toys.
But droppings found underfoot in the street and matched through the DNA database to a registered pet could earn its owner a municipal fine."
Sometimes, if enough people change, then changing behaviours of the few remaining becomes much easier. DanLockton on his Architectures of Control blog posts about the[London Design Festival - Greengaged]. This year, the festival focused on behavior changes for a greener environment, ecodesign and sustainable issues in design.Here's an excerpt and corresponding 5-minute YouTube video:
Lea argued three important points relevant to behaviour change:
Behaviour change requires behaviour (i.e. the behaviour of others: social effects are critical, as we respond to others’ behaviour which in turn affects our own; targeting the ‘right’ people allows behaviour to spread)
Behaviour and motivation are two different things: To change behaviour, you need to understand and work with people’s motivations - which may be very different for different people.
Desire is not enough: lots of people desire to behave differently, but it needs to be very easy for them to do it before it actually happens."
Of course, tax and government regulations can heavily influence behaviour and decisions. Since today is[International Talk Like a Pirate Day], I thought I would finish this post off with this interesting piece on Google barges. Some companies, like IBM and Google, seem more adaptable to changing behaviour and trying out fresh new ideas.Will Runyon over on the Raised Floor blog, has a post about Google's patent for[Data center barges on the sea]:"The idea is to use waves to power the data centers, ocean water to cool them, and a moored distance of seven miles or more to avoid paying taxes."
Arrr! Now that's what I call a new way of looking at things!
"Our survey data shows that over the past 12 months, more firms have bought their storage from a single vendor. While this might not be for everyone, it's worth serious consideration for your environment. Maybe you won't get the best price per gigabyte every time, but you'll probably save money in the long run because of simpler management, increased staff specialization, increased capacity utilization, and better customer service."
A Forrester survey of 170 companies ranging from SMBs to large enterprises in North America and Europe found that more than 80 percent bought their primary storage from one vendor over the last year. That includes 64 percent of the companies with more than 500 TB of raw storage.
The report, written by analyst Andrew Reichman, says using more than one primary storage vendor can make it more complex to manage, provision and support the storage environment. And while using multiple vendors can often bring better pricing, buying from one vendor can result in volume discounts.
“You may have tried to contain costs by forcing multiple incumbent vendors to continuously compete against each other, with price as the primary differentiator,” Reichman writes. “This strategy can reduce prices and limit vendor lock-in, but it can also lead to management complexity and poor capacity utilization.”
The report recommends keeping things simple by and using fewer vendors when possible. However, that advice comes with several caveats: buying all storage from one vendor means taking the bad with the good, and some vendors’ product families differ so much “they may as well come from different vendors.”
As if by coincidence, fellow blogger from EMC Chuck Hollis gives his reflections on this same topic. Here's an excerpt:
When it comes to buying storage (or any infrastructure technology, for that matter), there seem to be two camps:
Best-of-breed (i.e. multivendor): -- buy what's best, get the best price, keep all the vendors on their toes, etc. etc.
Single vendor: primarily use one vendor's offerings, and hold them accountable for the outcome.
If Chuck had said "multivendor" versus "single vendor", then that would have been a true dichotomy, but interestinglyhe equates best-of-breed with a multivendor approach. Let's consider two examples:
Disk from one vendor, Tape from another
Here is a multivendor strategy, and if you have a clear idea of what best-of-breed means to you, then you couldpick the best disk in the market, and the best tape in the market. However, I don't think this keeps either vendor"on their toes", or helps you negotiate lower prices by threatening to switch to the other vendor. In shops likethis, the staffing usually matches, so there are disk administration and tape operations, with little or no overlap, andlittle or no interest in retraining to use a new set of gear. It is true that disk-based VTL could be used where real tape libraries are used, but this may not be enough to threaten your existing vendors that you will switch all your disk to tape, or all your tape to disk.
One could argue that the vendor that sells the besttape could be the exact same vendor that sells the best disk. In this case, your multivendor strategy would actuallywork against you, forcing you away from one of your best-of-breed choices.
Disk and Tape from one vendor for some workloads, Disk and Tape from another vendor for other workloads
Here is a different multivendor strategy. Having disk and tape for the same vendor allows you to take advantageof possible synergies. The IT staff knows how to use the products from both vendors. This strategy does let you keep your vendors "on their toes". You can legitimately threaten to shift your budget from one vendor over another.However, whatever your definition of best-of-breed is, chances are the product from one vendor is, and the other vendor is not. Both meet some lowest common denominator, meeting some minimum set of requirements, which would allow you to swap out one for the other.
I guess I look at it differently. The equipment in your data center should be thought of as a team. Do your servers, storage and software work well together?
While Americans like to celebrate the accomplishments of individual musicians, athletes or executives, it is actually bands that compete against other bands, sports teams that compete against other sport teams, and companies that compete against other companies. Teamwork in the data center is not just for the people who work there, but also for the IT equipment. Just as a new incoming athlete may not get along well with teammates, shiny new equipment may not get along with your existing gear. Conversely, your existing infrastructure may not let the talents or features of your new equipment shine through.
Putting together the best parts from different teams might serve as a great diversion for those who enjoy["fantasy football"], it may not be the best approach for the data center. Instead, focus on managing your data center as a team, perhaps with theuse of IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center to minimize the heterogeneity of your different equipment. Pick an ITvendor that sells "team players" for your servers, storage and software, with broad support for interoperability and compatibility.
This week, I was in the Phoenix area presenting at TechData's TechSelect University. TechData is one of IBM's IT distributors,
and TechSelect is their community of 440 resellers and 20 vendors. This year they celebrate their 10 year anniversary of this event. I covered three particular topics, and I was videotaped for those who were not able to attend my session. (There were very few empty seats at my sessions)
IBM Business Partners now realize that the "killer app" for storage is combining the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller with entry-level or midrange disk storage systems for an awesome solution. Solutions based on either the Entry Edition or the standard hardware models can compete well with a variety of robust features, including thin provisioning, vDisk mirroring, FlashCopy, Metro and Global Mirror. This has the advantage that the SVC can extend these functions not just to newly purchased disk capacity, but also existing storage capacity. The newly purchased capacity can be DS3400, DS4700 or the new DS5000 models. This is great "investment protection" for small and medium sized businesses.
LTO-4 drives and automation
The Linear Tape Open (LTO) consortium--consisting of IBM, HP and Quantum--has proven wildly successful, ending the
vendor-lockin from SDLT tape. I presented the latest LTO-4 offerings, including the TS2240, TS2340, TS2900, TS3100
and TS3200. The LTO consortium has already worked out a technology roadmap for LTO-5 and LTO-6. The LTO-4 drives
support WORM cartridges and on-board hardware-based encryption. The encryption keys can be managed with IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager (TKLM).
SAN and FCoCEE switches
IBM has agreements with Brocade, Cisco and Juniper Networks for various networking gear. I focused on entry-level switches for SAN fabrics, the SAN24B-4 and Cisco 9124, as well as new equipment for Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (CEE),
including IBM's Converged Network Adapater (CNA) for System x servers, and the SAN32B switch that has 24 10GbE CEE ports and 8 FC ports that support 8/4/2 and 4/2/1 SFP transceivers. FCoE Clients that want to deploy Fibre Channel over CEE (FCoCEE) today have everything the need to get started.
The venue was the
[Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa] in Chandler, just south of Phoenix. This compound includes [Rawhide], an 1800's era Western Town attraction, a rodeo arena, and a casino still under construction.
Dinners were held nearby at the infamous
[Rustler's Rooste] Steakhouse on South mountain.
You could buy 10 liters of gasoline in Venezuela with this coin.
I'm back from South America, and am now in Chicago, Illinois. I'm having breakfast at the Starbucksdowntown, and thought I would make a post before all of my meetings today.
On this trip, I met with IBM Business Partners and sales reps from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. While I have visited thefirst three countries on past trips, this was my first time to Caracas, Venezuela. I grew up in La Paz, Bolivia, and speak Spanish fluently, so had no problemgetting around and holding discussions with everyone. While my friends in the US are oftensurprised I speak multiple languages, it doesn't surprise anyone I visit in other countries.If you are going to have worldwide job responsibilities for a global company that does businessin over 180 countries, the least you could do is learn a few additional languages. I suspect themajority of the 350,000 IBM employees speak at least two languages, the exceptions being mostly the 50,000 orso employees that live in the United States.
I flew on American Airlines from Tucson to Dallas to Caracas, and was only slightly delayed as a resultof all of the flight cancellations that happened earlier that week. Some companies designate a single "official airline" for their employees to use. That makessense if all of your employees are located in a single city, and that city is the hub for yourdesignated airline.IBM is too big, too spread out, and sells technology to nearly every airline to make sucha designation. Instead, IBM tries to spread its business out to multiple carriers, although all ofmy colleagues seems to have their own personal favorites. Mine are American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
While other people were upset over the delays, I found American Airlines did a great job keeping me informed,and all their employees I talked to seemed to be handling the situation fairly well. If youfly on American, I recommend you sign up for "text message" notifications. I did this for everyleg of my trip, and was kept up to date on times, gates and status. Very helpful!American Airlines even started their own corporate blog: [AA Conversation] (Special thanks to my friend[Paul Gillen] for pointing this out)
(I read somewhere that if you are going to travel anywhere, you need to remember to bringboth your sunscreen and your sense of humor, otherwise you are going to get burned. Goodadvice! Trust me, you don't even know how bad it can really be until you travel in the third world.)
Anyhoo, last week, IBM Venezuela celebrated its 70th anniversary. That's right, IBM has been doingbusiness in Venezuela for the past 70 years. Also last week, IBM put out its impressive [1Q08 quarterly results],including 10 percent growth for IBM System Storage product line worldwide, comparing what IBM earned this first quarter to what IBM earned the first quarter of last year. For just the Latin American countries,the growth for IBM System Storage was 20 percent!There are a lot of oil and gas companies in Venezuela. With a barrel of oil selling at more than$117 US dollars, these companies are looking to spend their newly earned profits on IBM systems, software and services.
As for the picture above, that is a one-thousand Bolivares coin, worth about 47 US cents atthis week's official exchange rate. As with many Latin American countries going through [years of high inflation], Venezuela was tired of all those zeros on their money. For example, a cheeseburger, freedom fries and a Cokeat McDonald's would set you back 20,000 Bolivares.This year the Venezuelan governmentcreated a new currency called "Bolivares Fuertes" (VEF), lopping off the last three zeros.So, the coin above would be replaced by a new coin with a big "1" on it instead, and an old 2000 Bolivares billwould be replaced by a new 2 Bolivares Fuertes bill. Unfortunately,I had to give all my new Venezuelan money back at the airport upon leaving, but they let me keep the coinabove, since it is old money, as a souvenir so that I could use it as a ball mark for playing golf.
(The term Bolivares is named after Simon Bolivar who was born in Caracas. He is famous throughoutSouth America, and was, and I am not making this up, the first president of Colombia, the secondpresident of Venezuela, the first president of Bolivia, and the sixth president of Peru. Here isthe [Wikipedia article] to learn more.)
Gasoline costs a mere 100 old Bolivares per liter.For those who don't do metric, gasoline therefore costsless than 18 cents per gallon. By comparison, in the USA, the average today was $3.47 US dollarsper gallon, of which 18.4 cents of this is Federal tax. That's right, we pay more just in taxes forgasoline than los venezolanos pay for it all.
The side effect of cheap gas is bad traffic. Everybody in Venezuela drives their own car, and nobody thinksabout the price of gasoline, carpooling, or taking public transportation, acting much like Americans used to, up until a few years ago. With some of the gridlock we faced, it might have been faster (but not safer)to walk there instead.
Which makes me wonder if American Airlines fills up their airplanes with fuel at these lower prices when theypick up people in Caracas to take them back to the United States. In 2002, fuel represented 10 percentof the average airline's operating expenses, but today it is now 25 percent. That is a drastic increase!
The same is happening in data centers. In the past, electricity was so cheap, and such a small percentof the total IT budget, nobody gave it much thought. But as the usage of electricity increased, andthe cost per KWh went up, this has a multiplying effect, and the growth in power and cooling costs isgrowing four times faster than the average IT hardware budget increase.
During the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney promised Michigan he wouldbring back all those jobs back to the Auto Industry, while his opponent,John McCain, told the audience that those jobs are gone forever, time tostart learning new skills. Mitt won the state, but lost the nomination,and perhaps this snapped him back to reality. Mitt now has a new prescription for what ails the US Auto industry--straight talk that he should have been saying during his campaign,telling people what they should hear, rather than what they wanted to hear.
Gaurav takes this argument one step further, referring to IBM's amazingturn-around back in 1993. Whereas the US Auto Industry has pushed backagainst inevitable globalization, IBM has embraced it, re-inventing itself into aGlobally Integrated Enterprise [GIE] and helping our clients do the same.I've been working for IBM since 1986, so I remember the pre-1993 IBM and how different it is now in the post-1993 era.
The marketplace has responded positively. Since 2004, more than 5,000 companies worldwide have replaced their HP, Sun, and EMC products with energy-efficient IBM Systems: Servers and Storage. Companies have invested in IBM's servers and storage to tackle their most challenging business objectives and to help reduce sprawling data center costs for labor, energy and real estate.This announcement was part of IBM's[Press Release]for its Migration Factory offering. The Migration Factory includes competitive server assessments, migration services, and other resources to help customers achieve energy and space savings and lower their cost of ownership.
Earlier this month, IBM's Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano recently outlined the possibilities of a smarter planet to the Council on Foreign Relations.Steve Lohr of the New York Times weighs in with his article [I.B.M. Has Tech Answer for Woes of Economy], and Dr. Fern Halper of Hurwitz & Associates gives her take over at [IT-Director.com].
Transcontinental flights and the[Travel Channel] have made the world smaller.Thomas Friedman argued the world has also become "flatter",thanks to advances in computers and global communication, in his 2005 book[The World is Flat].Now, IBM recognizes that InformationTechnology (I.T.) can help us solve the financial meltdown, global warming, and other major problems the world is now faced with.
How? First, our world is becoming instrumented. Sensors, RFID tags and other equipmentare now inexpensive and readily available to be placed wherever they are needed. Second, our world is becoming more interconnected. We are closely approaching two billion internet users andfour billion mobile subscribers, andthese can connect to the trillions of RFID tags, sensors and other instrumentation. Third,our world needs to get more intelligent. Not just US auto workers learning new skills,but all these instruments providing information that can be acted on with intelligentalgorithms. Algorithms can help with automobile traffic in large cities, enhance energyexploration, or improve healthcare.
This week is Thanksgiving holiday in the USA, so I thought a good theme would be things I am thankful for.
I'll start with saying that I am thankful EMC has finally announcedAtmos last week. This was the "Maui" part of the Hulk/Maui rumors we heard over a year ago. To quickly recap, Atmos is EMC's latest storage offeringfor global-scale storage intended for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads. Atmos can be sold as just software, or combined with Infiniflex,EMC's bulk, high-density commodity disk storage systems. Atmos supports traditionalNFS/CIFS file-level access, as well as SOAP/REST object protocols.
I'm thankful for various reasons, here's a quick list:
It's hard to compete against "vaporware"
Back in the 1990s, IBM was trying to sell its actual disk systems against StorageTek's rumored "Iceberg" project. It took StorageTek some four years to get this project out,but in the meantime, we were comparing actual versus possibility. The main feature iswhat we now call "Thin Provisioning". Ironically, StorageTek's offering was not commercially successful until IBM agreed to resell this as the IBM RAMAC Virtual Array (RVA).
Until last week, nobody knew the full extent of what EMC was going to deliver on the many Hulk/Maui theories. Severalhinted as to what it could have been, and I am glad to see that Atmos falls short of those rumored possibilities. This is not to say that Atmos can't reach its potential, and certainly some of the design is clever, such as offering native SOAP/REST access.
Instead, IBM now can compare Atmos/Infiniflex directly to the features and capabilities of IBM's Scale Out File Services [SoFS], which offers a global-scale multi-site namespace with policy-based data movement, IBM System Storage Multilevel Grid Access Manager[GAM] that manages geographical distrubuted information,and IBM [XIV Storage System] that offers high-density bulk storage.
Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads justify new storage architectures
When I presented SoFS and XIV earlier this year, I mentioned they were designed forthe fast-growing Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads that were unique enough to justify their own storage architectures. One criticism was that SoFS appeared to duplicate what could be achieved with dozens of IBM N series NAS boxes connected with Virtual File Manager (VFM). Why invent a new offering with a new architecture?
With the Atmos announcement, EMC now agrees with IBM that the Web 2.0 and DigitalArchive workloads represent a unique enough "use case" to justify a new approach.
New offerings for new workloads will not impact existing offerings for existing workloads
I find it amusing that EMC is quickly defending that Atmos will not eat into its DMXbusiness, which is exactly the FUD they threw out about IBM XIV versus DS8000 earlier this year. In reality, neither the DS8000 nor the DMX were used much for Web 2.0 andDigital Archive workloads in the past. Companies like Google, Amazon and others hadto either build their own from piece parts, or use low-cost midrange disk systems.
Rather, the DS8000 and DMX can now focus on the workloads they were designed for,such as database applications on mainframe servers.
Cloud-Oriented Storage (COS)
Just when you thought we had enough terminology already, EMC introduces yet another three-letter acronym [TLA]. Kudos to EMC for coining phrases to help move newconcepts forward.
Now, when an RFP asks for Cloud-oriented storage, I am thankful this phrase will help serve as a trigger for IBM to lead with SoFS and XIV storage offerings.
Digital archives are different than Compliance Archives
EMC was also quick to point out that object-storage Atmos was different from theirobject-storage EMC Centera. The former being for "digital archives" and the latter for"compliance archives". Different workloads, Different use cases, different offerings.
Ever since IBM introduced its [IBM System Storage DR550] several years ago, EMC Centera has been playing catch-up to match IBM'smany features and capabilities. I am thankful the Centera team was probably too busy to incorporate Atmos capabilities, so it was easier to make Atmos a separate offering altogether. This allows the IBM DR550 to continue to compete against Centera's existingfeature set.
Micro-RAID arrays, logical file and object-level replication
I am thankful that one of the Atmos policy-based feature is replicating individualobjects, rather than LUN-based replication and protection. SoFS supports this forlogical files regardless of their LUN placement, GAM supports replication of files and medical images across geographical sites in the grid, and the XIV supports this for 1MBchunks regardless of their hard disk drive placement. The 1MB chunk size was basedon the average object size from established Web 2.0 and DigitalArchive workloads.
I tried to explain the RAID-X capability of the XIV back in January, under muchcriticism that replication should only be done at the LUN level. I amthankful that Marc Farley on StorageRap coined the phrase[Micro-RAID array] to helpmove this new concept further. Now, file-level, object-level and chunk-level replication can be considered mainstream.
Much larger minimum capacity increments
The original XIV in January was 51TB capacity per rack, and this went up to 79TB per rack for the most recent IBM XIV Release 2 model. Several complained that nobody would purchase disk systems at such increments. Certainly, small and medium size businessesmay not consider XIV for that reason.
I am thankful Atmos offers 120TB, 240TB and 360TB sizes. The companies that purchasedisk for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads do purchase disk capacity in these large sizes. Service providers add capacity to the "Cloud" to support many of theirend-clients, and so purchasing disk capacity to rent back out represents revenue generating opportunity.
Renewed attention on SOAP and REST protocols
IBM and Microsoft have been pushing SOA and Web Services for quite some time now.REST, which stands for [Representational State Transfer] allows static and dynamic HTML message passing over standard HTTP.SOAP, which was originally [Simple Object Access Protocol], and then later renamed to "Service Oriented Architecture Protocol", takes this one step further, allowingdifferent applications to send "envelopes" containing messages and data betweenapplications using HTTP, RPC, SMTP and a variety of other underlying protocols.Typically, these messages are simple text surrounded by XML tags, easily stored asfiles, or rows in databases, and served up by SOAP nodes as needed.
It's hard to show leadership until there are followers
IBM's leadership sometimes goes unnoticed until followerscreate "me, too!" offerings or establish similar business strategies. IBM's leadership in Cloud and Grid computing is no exception.Atmos is the latest me-too product offering in this space, trying pretty muchto address the same challenges that SoFS and XIV were designed for.
So, perhaps EMC is thankful that IBM has already paved the way, breaking throughthe ice on their behalf. I am thankful that perhaps I won't have to deal with as much FUD about SoFS, GAM and XIV anymore.