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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Specialist for the IBM System Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2011, Tony celebrated his 25th year anniversary with IBM Storage on the same day as the IBM's Centennial. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
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Avi Bar-Zeeb of RealityPrime has an interesting post aboutHow Google Earth [really] Works.Normally, people who are very knowledgeable in a topic have a hard time describing concepts in basic terms. Avi was one of the co-founders of Keyhole, the company that built the predecessor for Google Earth, and also worked with Linden Lab for its 3D rendering it its virtual world, so he certainly knows what he is talking about. While he sometimes drops down into techno-talk about patents, the post overall is a good read.
It is perhaps human nature to be curious on how things are put together and how they function, leading to the popularity of web sites like www.howstuffworks.com that cover a wide range of topics.
Many things can be used without understanding their internal inner workings. You can put on a pair of blue jeans without knowing how the cotton was made into denim fabric; lace up your favorite pair of running shoes without understanding the chemical make-up of the plastic that cushions your feet; or drink a glass of beer after your five mile run without knowing how alcohol is processed by your liver.
For technology, however, some people insist they need to know how it works in order for them to get the most use of it. When shopping for a car, for example, a guy might look under the hood, and ask questions about how the engine works, while his wife sits inside the vehicle, counting cup holders and making sure the radio has all the right buttons.
Not all technology suffers from need-to-know-itis. For example, the Apple iPod music player and the Canon PowerShot digital camera, are both just disk systems that read and write data, with knobs and dials on one end, and ports for connectivity on the other. Everyone just asks how to use their controls, and might read the manual to understand how to connect the cables. Few people who use these devices ask how they work before they buy them.
Other disk systems, the kind designed for data centers for the medium and large enterprise, apparently aren't there yet. Storage admins who might happily own both an iPod player and a PowerShot camera, insist they need to know how the technologies inside various storage offerings work. Is this just curiosity talking? Or are there some tasks like configuration, tuning, and support that just can't be done without this knowledge? Does knowing the inner workings somehow make the job more enjoyable, easier, or performed with less stress?
I'm curious what you think, send me a comment on this.
This week, Allyson Klein, Director of Technical Leadership Marketing from Intel, interviewed me for the Intel® [Chip Chat podcast] to promote the upcoming [IBM Edge conference] to be held June 4-8 in Orlando, Florida. Intel is a big sponsor of the conference. The podcast is only about 8 minutes long. Enjoy!
While the rest of Americans were glued to their televisions watching President Obama explain his plan for recovery, my colleagues and Ihad dinner with clients from Canada.
One in particular claimed her father was known as the kingpin of[Flin Flon]. She lives in Ontario now, but she grew up in this smallmining town in Manitoba made famous for winning a government contractto grow crops for medicinal purposes.
Shown at left is the town's mascott, Flinty. Yes, apparently thetown was named after a fictional character of a paperback novel.
Of course, in conversations with clients, it is best to avoid topics like politics or drugs,but the intersection of government health care and implications on IT can't be disregarded.Since Canada has a more efficient healthcare process, the government enjoys a lower costper citizen. President Obama has suggested that the United States should adopt reforms to make the American system more efficient, including electronic medical records.
Not surprisingly, [smarter healthcare] is part of IBM's latest set of strategic initiatives.Digitizing medical information has a variety of benefits:
Information isn't stranded on islands
If there is any situation that needs to deliver the right information, to the right people,at the right time, healthcare is certainly one of them. Having the right information canhelp reduce medical mistakes.
Physicians spend time with their patients, not paperwork
I personally know some doctors here in Tucson, and they are the first to admit that theywould prefer to focus on their core strengths, which they spent many years in medical school,and leave the administrative details to someone else. Focusing on core strengths is acommon theme for successful businesses, and this is no different.
Expertise needs no passport
Medical emergencies do not always happen near the hospital or clinic that your medical records are stored at.An exciting feature of digital information is that it is easy to transport to where it isneeded, unlike paper records or X-ray film.
To learn more about IBM's strategy and vision, see IBM's[Smarter Planet] Web site.
Chris Anderson, of Wired magazine, wrote a great article called The Long Tail.
This article became a book by the same name published earlier this year, and I just discovered it on a recent visit to Second Life. A lot of IBMers are now alsoSecond Lifers, and I suspect it is just a matter of time before we are conductingour customer briefings there, and getting our year-end bonuses paid directly in Linden bucks.(Those of you not familiar with Second Life can watch this 3-minute video fromthe folks at Text100)
Anyways, the Long Tail describes the new economy of entertainment thanks to digitalstorage. Here are some of the key insights.
In the past, entertainment was all about hits: hit songs, hit movies,hit novels, and this was primarily because of the economic realities restricted byphysical space. Chris writes: "An average movie theater will not show a film unless it can attract at least 1,500 people over a two-week run; that's essentially the rent for a screen. An average record store needs to sell at least two copies of a CD per year to make it worth carrying; that's the rent for a half inch of shelf space."
Things have changed. To drive the point home, Robbie Vann-Adibe (CEO of eCast), poses the trick question"What percentage of the top 10,000 titles in any online media store (Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, or any other) will rent or sell at least once a month?" The answer will surprise you. Write down your guess first, then go read here. His digital jukeboxes are able to play from a list of150,000 songs, not the few hundred you'd find at the Tap Room which is rated as having the best jukebox in Tucson.
The phenomenon is not just limited to music. "Take books," Chris writes, "The average Barnes & Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon's book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are..."
This has incredible implications for the storage industry. For one, content providers are going to dig deep into their archives to digitize and deliver "long tail" offerings. If they don't have a deep archive, many will start to build one. Second, the need to search through that large volume of content will become more critical. Classifying and indexing with the appropriate tags and metadata will be an important task.
"The murals in restaurants are on par with the food in museums." --- Peter De Vries
The quote above applies to blogs as well. Those about competitive products of which the blogger has little to no hands-on experience tend to be terribly misleading or technically inaccurate. We saw this last month as Sun Microsystems' Jeff Savit tried to discuss the IBM System z10 EC mainframe.
This time, it comes from EMC bloggers discussing NetApp equipment, and by association, IBM System Storage N series gear.I was going to comment on the ridiculous posts by fellow bloggers from EMC about SnapLock compliance feature on the NetApp, but my buddies at NetApp had already done this for me, saving me the trouble.
The hysterical nature of writing from EMC, and the calm responses from NetApp, speak volumes about the culturesof both companies.
The key point is that none of the "Non-erasable, Non-Rewriteable" (NENR) storage out there are certified as compliant by any government agency on the planet. Governments just aren't in the business of certifying such things. The best you can get is a third-party consultant, such as [Cohasset Associates], to help make decisions that are best for each particular situation.
In addition to SnapLock on N series, IBM offers the [IBM System Storage DR550], WORM tape and optical systems, all of which have been deemed compliant to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC 17a-4] federal regulations by Cohasset Associates. For medical patient records and images like X-rays, IBM offers the Grid Medical Archive Solution [GMAS]designed to meet the requirements of the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act[HIPAA].For other government or industry regulations, consult with your legal counsel.
An astute reader brought this to my attention. The newest addition to our "IBM Express Portfolio"set of SMB-oriented offerings is the new TS3100 tape library. This has one LTO Gen 3 drive and up to 22 cartridges, which can be a mix of WORM and rewriteable cartridges,beautifully packaged in a small 2U high (3.5 inch) rack-mountable chassis. Each cartridge can hold up to 800GB uncompressed, or 1.6TB with typical 2-to-1 compression.
This tape library would be a great complement to TSM Express for backup, and to theDR550 Express for archive and compliance storage.
And now, for a limited time, there is a $1500 rebate, check website for details.
Well, I am back safely from my trip last week to Chicago, and now I am writing this in Madrid, Spain, on my way to Brussels, Belgium for the IT Storage Expo.
For those who have asked how the construction on the new Tucson EBC is going, here are a few pictures I took on Friday. As you can see, it is coming along nicely. The official grand opening will be April 2.
Last Tuesday, we had our official "Grand Opening" for the new Tucson Executive Briefing Center!
We sent out fancy invitations to all the IBM executives who supported this center, local dignitaries from the Tucson and State of Arizona level, and all of the IBM employees on the Tucson campus.
Since our new center is significantly cozier (5700 square feet versus our previous 15,000 square feet), we split the day into two separate events. The first for the IBM executives and local VIPs, and the second for the rest of the IBM employees on campus.
Of course, there is no free lunch. The day started out with a series of speeches. My manager, Doug Davies, was the master of ceremonies to introduce each speaker.
Alistair Symon, IBM Vice President of Enterprise Storage, explained how important storage affects everyone's lives. If you use an ATM machine to withdraw money, for example, you are most probably using IBM System Storage behind the scenes. Nearly all of the IBM disk and tape storage products are designed here in Tucson.
Bruce Wright (shown here) directs the University of Arizona's Office of University Research Parks, serves as CEO of the UA Tech Park, and the founder and president of the Arizona Center for Innovation. Bruce said a few words on how please he was that IBM decided to reverse its July 2011 decision to leave Tucson. The UofA owns all the property, renting back four of the eleven buildings back to IBM, so is effectively our landlord. Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of IBM's sale of the technology park to the University.
Tucson Councilwoman Shirley Scott talked about the improtance of high-paying jobs to the local economy. While IBMers in Tucson are paid less than our counterparts in San Jose, Austin, Raleigh or Poughkeepsie, we are certainly [paid more than the average Tucsonan], thus helping to raise the standard of living here.
Dr. Michael Varney, president and CEO of the local Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, praised IBM for its strong reputation in ethics and diversity.
My new second-line manager, Karl Duvalsaint, and my new third-line manager, Doug Dreyer, emphasized the importance of co-locating Briefing Centers in sites that have Research and Development activity. It is important for clients to interact directly with developers, and it is also good for developers to understand directly from clients their needs, preferences and requirements. Worldwide, the IBM Systems and Technology Group has only twelve Executive Briefing Centers, and the Tucson EBC is one of them.
This is not to say that IBM does not have centers in other locations. Our newest client center in Singapore is a shining example. Of course, if they want experts to speak to clients there, they need to be flown in. Doug Dreyer mentioned that IBM plans to launch six such centers in Africa as well.
Next was the ribbon cutting. From left to right, Lee Olguin (our Gunny Sargeant), Tucson Councilwoman Shirley Scott, UofA's Bruce Wright, IBM VP of Program Management Calline Sanchez, My second-line manager Karl Duvalsaint, IBM VP Allistair Simon, my first-line manager Doug Davies, Tucson Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Michael Varney, and my third-line manager Doug Dreyer. We had a member of the local high school band do the drum roll.
Once the ribbon was cut, the IBM Executves and local VIPs were brought in to see the new facility, which has two large rooms, one common dining area, an 800-square foot green data center to showcase our products, our own set of restrooms, a galley to stage up the food and beverage service, and two smaller rooms for private conversations or conference calls. A local high school band provided live music throughout the day.
I hope everyone had some time these past few weeks of the Winter Solstice to enjoy some time off with friends and family. I had a great trip to New York City, got to visit my brother and his friends, went to see my friends in Michigan to celebrate New Years Eve, and see the world premiere of [LexiBaby], an independent film from fellow filmmaker Jonathan Petro.
The latter of course from fellow IBMers, corporate executives receiving bailout money, attorneys that specialize in foreclosures, and the lucky few who will be in Washington DC for the US Presidential Inauguration.In addition to all the bailout money from banks, insurance companies and automakers that will be spent on IBM equipment and services, there might be additional funds from the US Government to improve our country's information infrastructure.In a recent Forbes article titled[The Tech Solution To The Recession], Andy Greenberg writes about US president-elect Barack Obama's ideas about a stimulus to the economy. Here's an excerpt:
"IBM, for starters, believes that a massive infusion of cash should go toward cutting-edge technology. Last month, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano presented a report to Obama's transition team from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) that argues that a $30 billion investment in universal broadband, health information technology and a smarter power grid could create 950,000 jobs.
"Those disparities, and IBM's argument for focusing a stimulus plan on technology in general, come from what economists have dubbed "network multipliers." The computing giant, and ITIF, argue that technology creates more jobs than other types of infrastructure by enabling new types of businesses.
"If you build more roads, people don't buy more tires or GPS systems, but if you build better networks, you create entirely new business applications," says Rob Atkinson, president of ITIF and an author of the think tank's report. "Something like YouTube could never have existed without broadband."
"Regardless of precisely how tech stimulus money gets spent, IBM will likely sweep up a significant chunk of those taxpayer funds, given the computing giant's diverse hardware, software and services businesses. Other IT infrastructure giants like Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Oracle and SAP are also likely to vie for pieces of Obama's stimulus package aimed at technology.
"But among those tech companies, IBM has been especially active in driving home the need for national investment in tech systems. In a November speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Palmisano argued that that the U.S. needs to invest in innovation not just as a solution to our current recession but as a competitive measure in an increasingly integrated and technologically advanced world."