IBM announced the enhancement of compressing not only block data on the V7000
but also now it includes the file data on the V7000 Unified.The V7000 was first set up with compression back
in the summer with a big announcement surrounding “Smarter Storage”.This optimization was the same code and
engine that was purchased from a company named Storwize a few years ago.
initially kept the compression appliance that Storwize was first known for in
the market.Using LZ compression with a
RACE (Random Access Compression Engine) providing an optimized real-time compression
without performance degradation. Thus slowing down data growth and reducing the
amount of storage to be managed, powered and cooled.
compression does not require the compression or decompression of entire files
to access the data block. The engine will compress and decompress the relevant
data blocks “on the fly”. As data is
written the RACE engine compresses the data into a smaller chunk and its 100%
transparent for systems, storage and applications.
The V7000 Unified can now deliver a larger compressed
platform than any other mid-range platform.With compression percentages around 75%, a system that was maxed out at
2.8 PB (960 drives x 3TB each) can now see the system handle up to 5 PB of
Each V7000 Unified with code base 6.4 has the option of
turning on a 45 day trial of the compression software.After setting the license to “45” then you
can add new compressed volumes on the system.You can also compress data on virtualized storage arrays.
Compression has been part of NAS for a very long time.We have seen compression of files from jpeg
to office documents.But the best part
is the end user will never have to worry about which files needed to zipped or
compressed. Everything that comes through the V700 Unified can be compressed in
line before it writes the data to disks.
A couple of other improvements that IBM announced were the
addition of a integrated LDAP server to V7000 Unified.This now allows customers to use both local authentication
and external authentication servers to allow access to data. Another feature was the ability to upgrade a
V7000 to a V7000 Unified in the field.If you currently own a V7000 but need to add file access to the system,
IBM will sell you the two file modules and corresponding software to upgrade
you system. Now mind you there is a list of requirements that will need to be
met so check with your local storage engineer for more information. And finally
we now have support for a 4 way cluster on V7000 unified.This allows for more disks to be provisioned
and can compete with some of the other mid-range storage platforms in the
This all together makes a nice round of improvements that
will make life easier for IBM customers. As the V7000 platform matures it looks like IBM
is putting their money where their mouth is and making storage smarter and more
efficient.More to come on this platform
as I suspect we will see bigger things down the road.
you expect more out of your storage? IBM thinks you should and is
putting their money where their mouth is. In the past it has gone under
different names like STG University and Storage Symposium, but now IBM
has revamped its premier storage conference. The big announcement came
today with much fanfare that included a new website, some videos and
bunch of hype on twitter. A three part conference for executives, gear
heads and business partners there is something for everyone. But what
will be different tham years in the past? I think IBM looked around how
other vendors use conferences to help pump up its customer base
(VMWorld, EMCwhatever) and decided to put some hype in the conference.
of this as a great place to go and network, learn and have a good
time. The conference will be in Orlando and there will be tons of time
to sit in class rooms and learn about the latest technologies but there
will be sessions where IBM will be pulling in our top execs and analysts
to tell you where IBM is going in the storage world.
Executive Edge will feature different speakers from Jeff Jonas, Aviad
Offer and IT Finance expert Calvin Braunstein. This track will take
executives through new announcements, deep dives on technical platforms,
one on one sessions with IBM Execs and some great entertainment. This
is a new feature of the conference as in the past it was more geared
towards the technical teams.
Of course the Executive Edge will be
limited so talk to your local storage sales person to get a chance to be
a part of this special event. There will be time to bring in your team
and have special sessions and round tables with the IBM engineers who
can help you find your way down this path of crazy storage growth. And
there is a golf course on site which I have heard is very nice. Bring
your clubs or rent them, I am sure there will be plenty of us out there
so find a partner and have a good time.
More importantly IBM is
making the effort to step up the event and have it on par with the other
IBM conferences like Pulse. The technical portion will have over 250
sessions on storage related topics. You will also get road-map
information from the product teams as well as a chance to become a
certified technician. One area that has been expanding is our hands on
labs and this year we will have the biggest one yet. You will be able
to come in to the labs and actually see our storage systems and have a
chance to 'test drive' them.
Early bird registration is open now
and you can sign up today. The conference will be in sunny Orlando
Florida at the Waldorf Astoria and Hilton Orlando at Bonnet Creek. The
event starts on June 4th and runs to the 8th. You can follow the
conference on twitter @IBMEdge and use the hashtag #ibmedge For the conference website go here
My father is a retired teacher but loves to work with his hands. I
can remember very early on in my up bringing, him teaching me that it is
good to measure twice and cut once. Whether it was building a deck or
just a bird house the point was it took more time to cut something wrong
and then has to re-cut the board shorter or even wastes the old board
and cut a whole new one.
When I was preparing for this article I remember having to learn that
lesson the hard way and how much effort really is put into that second
cut. The problem in the storage industry is the misaligned partitions
from a move of a 512 byte sector to a new 4096 byte sector. This has to
be one of the bigger performance issues with virtualized systems and
Disk drives in the past had a limit on the number of sectors to 512
bytes. This was ok when you had a 315 MB drive because the number of
512 byte blocks was not nearly as large as what is in a 3 TB drive of
today’s’ systems. Newer versions of Windows and Linux will transfer the
4096 data block that match the native hard disk drive sector size. But
during migrations even new systems can have an issue.
There is also something called 512 byte sector emulation which is
where a 4k sector on the hard disk is remapped to 8 512 byte sectors.
Each read and write would be done in eight 512 byte sectors.
When the older OS is created or migrated, it may or may not align the
first block in the eight block group with the beginning of the 4k
sector. This causes misalignment of a one block segment. As the reads
and writes are laid down on the disks the misalignment of the logical
sectors from the physical sectors mean the 8 512 byte blocks now occupy 2
This now forces the disk to perform an additional read and/or write
to two physical 4k sectors. It has been documented that sector
misalignment can cause a reduction in write performance of at least 30%
for a 7200 RPM hard drive.
This issue is only magnified when adding other file systems on top of
this misalignment. When using a hyper visor like VMWare or Hyper-V,
the virtual image can be misaligned and cause even further performance
There are hundreds of articles and blogs written on how to check for
you disk alignment. A simple Google search of the words “disk sector
alignment” and you will find this has been a very popular topic.
Different applications will have different ways of checking and possibly
realigning the sectors.
One application that can help you identify and fix these is a tool
called the Pargon Alignment tool. This tool is easy to use and will
automatically determine if a drive’s partitions are misaligned. If
there is misalignment the utility then properly realigns the existing
partitions including boot partitions to the 4k sector boundaries.
I came across this tool when looking for something to help N series
customers who have misalignment issues in virtual systems. One of the
biggest things I saw as an advantage was this tool can align partitions
while the OS is running and does not require the snapshots to be
removed. It also can align multiple VMDKs within a single virtual
In the end, your alignment will effect how much disk space you have,
how much you can dedupe and the overall performance of your storage
system. It pays to check this before you start having issues and if you
are already seeing problems I hope this can help.
For the last six years IBM has been selling the N series gateway and
it has been a great tool to add file based protocols to traditional
block storage. A gateway takes luns from the SAN storage and overlays
its own operating system. One of the 'gotchas' with the gateway is the
storage has to be net new, meaning it can not take an existing lun that
has data and present that to another device.
Traditionally the gateway was used to put in front of older storage to
refit the old technology with new features. In the case of N series, a
gateway would be able to add features like snapshots, deduplication and
replication. In the past few years, we have added the option to use both
external and internal disk to a gateway system. The only caveat to
this solution is you have to order the gateway license when the system
is initially ordered. A filer can not be changed into a gateway system.
Another solution that we see in the field is when a customer is looking
to purchase a new system and most of the requirement is SAN based and
only a small portion is NAS. Putting a gateway in front of a XIV became
a very popular solution for many years and still is today. IBM did
release the SONAS platform that can be used as a NAS gateway in front of
the V7000, SVC, and XIV.
I have seen some architects that wanted to use a gateway in an all NAS
solution for new disks. This only complicates the solution by having to
add switches and multiple operating systems. If we look at
virtualization of storage, the gold standard has been the SAN Volume
Controller (SVC). This system can take new or existing luns from other
storage systems and presents them as a lun to another host. This data
can be moved from one storage system to another without bringing the lun
offline. The IBM V7000 also has this virtualization feature as the
code base for both systems are the same. The cool feature that IBM has
added to the V7000 is now the system has the ability to do NAS and SAN
protocols. This now competes in the same space as the EMC VNX and
Netapp FAS systems. The virtualization in the SVC code is somewhat
similar to the gateway code in the N series. They both can virtualuze
the lun from another storage platform. If you need to keep the data
that is on the older system intact, then a SVC device is needed. I
would also mention that the movement of data between storage systems is
much easier with the SVC. I would also mention the N series gateway has
more functionality like deduplication and easy replication than the
SVC. Finally, the SVC code was built by IBM to sit on top of
complicated SAN environments. Its robust nature is complimented with an
easier to use gui from the XIV platform. The N series gateway is
somewhat easier to setup but is not to be used for large complicated SAN
environments. Both systems are good at what they do, and people try
to compare them in the same manner. I would tell them, Yes they both
virtualize storage but are used in a different manner.
Top 10 Reasons clients choose to go with IBM N series
Some years ago I put together a list of reasons why people
choose to buy from IBM rather than purchase directly from Netapp.IBM has an OEM agreement with Netapp and
rebrands the FAS and V-series as their N series product line.They are both made at the same plant and the
only difference between them is the front bezel.You can even take a Netapp bezel off and
stick it on an N series box and it fits exactly.
The Software is the same exactly.All we change is the logos and readme
files.The entire functionality of the
product is exactly the same.IBM does
not add or take away any of the features built into the systems.The only difference is it takes IBM about 90
days once Netapp releases a product to get it put online and change the
Support for N series is done both at IBM and Netapp.Much like our other OEM partners, they stand
behind IBM as the developers and IBM handles the issues.Customers still call the same 1.800.IBM.SERV
for support and speak to trained engineers who have been working on N series
equipment for 6+ years now.IBM actually
has lower turn over than Netapp in their support division and has won awards
for providing top-notch support.The
call home features that most people are used to still go to Netapp via IBM
10.The IBM customer
engineer (CE) that is working with you today will be the same person who helps
you with the IBM N series system.
9.IBM GBS team can
provide consultation, installation and even administration of your environment.
8.IBM is able to
provide financing for clients.
7.When you purchase
your N series system from IBM, you can bundle it with servers, switches, other
storage and software.This gives you one
bill, one place to go to if you need anything and one support number to call.
6.IBM has two other
support offerings to help our clients, Our Supportline offering allows
customers to call in and ask installation or configuration questions.We also have an Enhanced Technical Support
(ETS) team that will assign a personal engineer that will know everything about
your environment and will provide you with everything you need.They will help you with health checks to be
sure the system is running optimally, updates on the latest technology and
single point of contact in case you need to speak to someone immediately.
5.IBM N series
warranty support is done by IBM technicians and engineers at Level 1 and Level
2.If your issue can not be resolved by
our Level 2 team they have a hotline into the Netapp Top Enterprise Account
team.This is a team only a few very
large Netapp accounts can afford and we provide this support to ALL of the IBM
N series accounts no matter how large or small.
4.Our support teams
from different platforms (X series, Power, TSM, DS, XiV, etc) all interact with
another and when tough issues come up we are able to scale to the size of the
issue.We can bring in experts that know
the SAN, Storage, Servers, and Software all under one umbrella.With those tough cases we assign a
coordinator to make sure the client does not have to call all of these
resources themselves.This person can
reach out to all the teams, assigns duties and will coordinate calls with you
3.All IBM N series
Hardware and Software undergoes an Open Source Committee who validates there
are no violations, copy right infringements or patent infringements.
2.All IBM N series
Hardware and Software is tested in our Tucson
testing facility for interoperability.We have a team of distinguished engineers who not only support N series
but other hardware and software platforms within in the IBM portfolio.
1.All IBM N series
equipment comes with a standard 3 year warranty for both Hardware and
Software.This warranty can be extended
beyond the three years as IBM supports equipment well beyond the normal 3-5
years of a system.
When it gets down to it, customers buy because they
happy.Since the systems are exactly the
same it comes down to what makes them happy.For some, the Netapp offering makes them happy because they like their
sales engineer, for others they like IBM because they have been doing business
with us for over 30 years.
For more information about IBM N series, check out our
landing page on http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/storage/network/
Now available is the IBM System Storage N series with VMware vSphere
Redbooks are a great way of learning a new technology or a reference
for configuration. I have used them for years not just in storage but
for X series servers and for software like TSM. The people that write
the books spend a great deal of time putting them together and I believe
most of them are written by volunteers.
This is the third edition of this Redbook and if you have read this before here are some of the changes:
-Latest N series model and feature information.
-Updated the IBM Redbook to reflect VMware vSphere 4.1 environments
-Information for Virtual Storage Console 2.x has been added
This book on N series and VMware goes through the introduction of
both the N series systems and VMware vSphere. There are sections on
installing the systems, deploying the LUNs and recovery. After going
through this Redbook, you will have a better understanding of a complete
and protected VMware system. If you need help with how to size your
hardware there is a section for you. If you are looking to test how to
run VMs over NFS, its in there too!
One of the biggest issues with virtual systems is making sure you
have proper alignment between the system block and the storage array.
This will negatively impact the system by a factor of 2 in most random
reads/writes as two blocks will be required for one request. To avoid
this costly mistake or to correct VMs you have already setup a section
in the book called Partition alignment walks you through the entire
process of correctly setting the alignment or fixing the older systems
Another area that I will point out is the use of deduplication,
compression and cloning to drive the efficiency of the storage higher.
These software features allow customers to store more systems on the
storage array than if they used traditional hard drives. Also there is
how to use snapshots for cloning, mirrors for Site Recovery Manager and
long term storage aka Snapvaults. At the end of the book are some
examples of scripts one might use for snapshots in hot backup modes.
Whether you are a seasoned veteran or newbie to the VMware scene,
there is a great guide that will help you from start to finish setting
up your vSphere environment. The information is there, use the search
feature or sit down on a Friday with a high-lighter, which ever fits
your style and learn a little about using a N series system with VMware.
I just read the blogs from Chris Mellor from the Register
and Tom Trainer Network Computing and thought how insightful are these two
outsiders about the inner workings of IBM.
First off, yes IBM is no longer selling the DCS9900, a DDN
OEM rebranded system in the very large IBM storage portfolio. There is no question that this product is no
longer available after the October 15 date.
Second, the DCS 3700 is already part of our portfolio and is
now an OEM box from Netapp/Engenio/LSI. The density of this system is the same as the
DCS 9900 and makes sense to use the DCS 3700 as a replacement for the DCS9900.
Third, Tom’s blog about SONAS being a monolithic NAS storage
is very skewed. SONAS is a very flexible
in the way we can scale both storage and the throughput with out affecting either
variable. Most “scale out” systems you
have to scale both in order to keep up with demand. SONAS uses some of the best technology on the
market with a huge amount of throughput.
His statement about IBM dropping DDN from SONAS is un-true
and goes to show how much research Tom put into writing this blog. I am sure Tom is looking out to write a
non-biased blog for Network Computing but maybe those days at HDS are still
making a big influence in his ability to look at announcement letter and make a
extrapolations about other products.
Finally, If HDS thought BlueArc was so great, why didn’t they
buy them back when they could have gotten the company for a better deal? Has the product changed THAT much since
2006?I wish HDS only the best for
dealing with the transition and getting that product under the HDS umbrella.
If you do your homework and base your assumptions on facts
instead of conjecture, you will find SONAS is a solid platform in the enterprise
NAS market.SONAS has proven it can be
the market leader with a low cost to performance ratio and will only get better
as time goes on.
Labor day has come and gone and so has all of the holidays
between now and Thanksgiving. This is
only augmented with the hope that your favorite football team (both American football
and what we call Soccer) has a great weekend match and you get to celebrate
with the beverage of your choice.
During your work-week, which can and sometimes does include
weekends, all you hear is no more money to do the things you have to do to keep
the business running. If you have kept
up with squeezing more out your systems with virtualization that’s great but
your network is now overtaxed. The staff
that used to take care of certain aspects of the day to day running of your
data center has been let go and their job has been ‘given’ to you with no
thought of compensating you for the extra tasks.
The Earth is warming, the weather is out of control and the
price of gas is so high that you decide to bike to work to help save the
planet. You spend more time on the road
commuting and look like you need a shower when you get to work after dodging
traffic all morning. Your coffee is
priced higher now because the coffee house wants to use Fair Trade coffee from
farmers in a county you have never been. And your dog is on anti-depressing meds because
you are not home as much and he can’t go out in the yard because of the killer bees
migrating north from Mexico.
Our lives seem to be getting more complicated and it’s nice
when we find things that not only help us but are easy to use.When you
come across these items they make such an impression that you like to tell others
about your great fortunes. I came by a
solution that was very easy to use and the value was so great that at first I
didn’t believe the whole story.
About a year ago, I was asked to help out on the Storewize/Real
Time Compression (RTC) team as it transitioned into the IBM portfolio. I met with the engineers and sales people and
all had wonderful things to say about the technology. I listened but was hesitant
to drink all of the kool aid they were pouring.
A year later I am very much a believer of the RTC technology
and think it really could be a game changer in the market. If you keep up with IDC, Gartner and the other
analyst, they all point to compression of the data as being one of the larger
items for handling future growth.There are a lot of vendors that claim they can
compress data but it’s not all done the same.
One of the things that stood out from day one is the idea of
using LZ compression in real time to compress data instead of deduplication. Coming from a N series (*Netapp) background I
understood how deduplication works and where it was useful. But this was compression which is a different
ball game.Now we are able to shrink the
storage footprint that wasn’t exactly the same as before. Given that Netapp has issues with block size
and offsets, this is exactly what is needed in the market.
The next question I always get and one I had was “That’s
great, you can compress data with the best, but whats the overhead?”. I waited a long time to see what the
performance numbers were going to be and found an astonishing outcome.The RTC appliance made a performance
improvement on the overall solution.It
does help by adding cache and adding processing to the serving of data but it
also improves the performance of the system by having to process less data.
For example, if a system has to save 100GB of data with no
compression, then all of the data has to be laid out on the disk, that sping
for 100GB of data, cache, CPUs, I/O ports all have to work harder to save 100GB
of data.But if we get 2:1 or 3:1 compression ratios,
then all of the components have to work less. No longer are they working to save 100GB of
data but 50GB or 25GB or data. This
allows the system to process more data and have cycles to respond quicker to
I/O requests (IE lower latency).
So the final thing is always the question of how hard is
this to install. Is there a period of
time that you have to wait or have 5 IBM technicians to install it. All I have to say is its easy.So easy that there is a good YouTube video
that goes through the entire process of unpacking to racking to compressing
data. I think the video speaks for
Last week at the IBM Technical Conference I was able to
spend some time with a couple of friends discussing technology.It is always interesting to hear their take
on where the storage market is going and what lays ahead in the future. As my Netapp pal and I were chatting about the
messaging around unified architecture, we both noted that unified to one
perceptive is disjointed to another.
IBM and Netapp have been using the term unified for its
NAS/SAN device for about 5 years now.The
idea is to share a common code base on the same hardware to increase
functionality and usability of that storage. Other vendors have gone similar routes using
multiple code bases and/or hardware but I see that as a NAS gateway in front of
SAN storage system.
This has been very successful in data centers both large and
small. But the idea of how we manage
storage is changing.Virtualization is
changing the idea of how and even where our data may be stored. The term cloud is something of a marketing
term but I like the term Storage Utility better. Utility companies such as electric, water,
sewer and even cable provide a product to its consumers and storage utility
vendors could do the same.
Most people are not concerned about process companies take
to make water drinkable or how electricity is generated as long as it is safe,
reliable and easy for them to consume. Storage
as a Utility is no different, it is only when the storage is offline or hacked
in by outsiders the consumers are concerned. There are laws that govern utilities and the
FTC has put some privacy laws together to help consumers but I believe we can
take it a little further (a blog for another time).
As our data is changing from traditional spinning drives in
our data center to a storage utility, we will need some type of bridge that
will ease the pain of transition. The
main reason people do not adapt new technology is because the transition is
often too painful and the benefit of new technology is less than the need to
move. Whether it is a software package
that helps move data or a hardware device, it will have to give access to both file
based data and object based data. This
will allow for users to read the files as needed no matter what their connectivity
or location. It could also be used to
help drive efficiencies up buy allowing data to move from file based (high
cost) to object based (lower cost) environments.
Today there are some vendors who have early versions of this
type of unified solution. They are bridging
the gap between what we have today in private data centers and the future of
public utility storage. This is very
early in the transition but with this type of technology, we will be able to
adapt and provide a better way of storing data. Will it still be called a unified solution?
Only the marketing people can tell us that.
Every year IBM puts on a conference for all of our clients, business partners and strategic partners. This conference has both Storage and X series sessions along with key note speakers from the top management at IBM. People come from all over the world to this conference looking for the 'how to' answers and whats to come with the product lines. There is also a solution center that houses all of the products along with our sponsors. This year our top platinum sponsors are Cisco, Intel and Netapp. Other sponsors include Brocade, Emulex, Fuision-IO, VMWare, Red Hat and SUSE. I plan to be working in the solution center at the SONAS booth talking to clients about the benefits of SONAS and how it fits into their environments. If you are wanting to stop by here are the hours that I will be there:
Monday, July 18th Solution Center Open 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM ( w/Networking Drinks)
Tuesday, July 19th Sponsor / Exhibitor Only Lunch 11:15 AM – 11:45 AM Solution Center Open 11:45 AM – 1:00 PM (Coffee & Dessert served in the Solution Center) Solution Center Open 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM ( w/Networking Drinks)
Wednesday, July 20th Sponsor / Exhibitor Only Lunch 11:15 AM – 11:45 AM Solution Center Open 11:45 AM – 1:00 PM (Coffee & Dessert served in the Solution Center)
I also will be presenting a few sessions on NAS technology here at the conference. Most of my sessions will be a look at what IBM is doing with SONAS, N series and Real Time Compression. I have a NAS 101 class that I really love doing because there are so many people that have a misconception of what NAS is today. In my N series update session we will be talking about the latest release on N6270 and the EXP 3500 as well as a peek at the R23 release coming in a few weeks. The other two sessions I am doing are a little off the topic of NAS but around social media and using www.ibm.com for help. Tony Pearson, John Sing and Ian Wright will be joining me on a panel to discuss the roles we play in social media and what each of us thinks of the future of social media. The support session is something that a client suggested to me out of their frustration of how to find documents on our support pages. Here is a list of sessions and times that I will be presenting:
7/18 - 1:00 sSN14 Storage Networking (NAS - SAN) NAS 101: An Introduction to Network Attached Storage 7/19 - 10:30 sSN15 Storage Networking (NAS - SAN) NAS @ IBM 7/19 - 1:00 sSN18 Storage Networking (NAS - SAN) IBM N series: What's New? 7/20 - 1:00 sGE10 General Tips and Tricks on Searching for Support Answers on ibm.com 7/20 - 5:30 sGE61 General Using Social Media in System Storage 7/21 - 10:30 sSN18 Storage Networking (NAS - SAN) IBM N series: What's New?
7/21 - 2:30 sSN15 Storage Networking (NAS - SAN) NAS @ IBM
If you are at the conference feel free to come to any of my sessions and I would love to hear from you about the IBMNAS blog or any of my social media outlets. We are using the following hashtag for the conference all week if you want to follow what is going on via twitter feed #ibmtechu
I was just thinking the other day that I really need to
write an article for my blog about the upcoming releases. When I opened the page it said I had not
written anything since May of this year. Time really flies when you are having fun, so
IBM just released a new XiV system dubbed the Gen 3.Generation 1 of course was built by the XiV company
before IBM purchased them, then came Gen2 shortly there after. As you expect the system has to keep up with
customer demands and technology refreshes but some thing very unique caught my
eye. The performance with this system
will be heads and shoulders above the competition.
Nehalem micro-architecture now makes up the heart
of the processing power within the grid with tons more cache to boot.There is a change in the inter-connectivity
from Ethernet to Infiband. I can’t wait
to see the new SPC2 numbers when they are published.
I suspect with
the introduction of more cache (via SSD) and the switch over to near-line SAS
drives is only going to help increase performance from gen2 to a gen3 system.The
self tuning/healing, tierless storage is still at the heart of the system and still
redefines how storage is done today.
May 9th has been a target on my calendar for some
time now. Inside of IBM, we have been
waiting for this day to come so we could talk about the new things being
released in the storage platform. It
almost feels like Christmas morning with a bunch of new presents under the
tree. Each gift has inside something
that is either really cool or something very useful.The only difference is your Aunt Matilda and
her little dog is not coming over for brunch.
Under the IBM tree today is a slew of presents for almost the
entire storage platform. I will
concentrate on just the IBM NAS ones but if you are interested in knowing what
is going on elsewhere, you can find more information at the main website.
SONAS must have been a good boy because there are plenty of
gifts for him under the tree this morning. Not only did he find presents under the tree
but there were a few little things in his stocking. Here is what Santa brought:
hardware update on the X3650 nodes. Just like before, the SONAS system uses
the impressive workhorse but now it uses the more powerful M3 class with a
six core Xeon Intel 2.66GHz processor. It has 24GB of DDR3 RAM with the option
to increase to a total of 144 GB of DDR3 RAM per interface node. Also new with the X3650 is the option to
include a second processor to double the amount of cores to 12 total per
under the tree is new support for not only XiV but now SONAS supports the
SVC and V7000 as disk subsystems. This
is a huge gift because now SONAS can support tons of other storage under
the awesome virtualization of the SVC code. V7000 support is also interesting as that
platform has the virtualization code from SVC but also support its own
drive architecture including solid state drives.
same category of sweaters, SONAS gets a little smaller rack extender.In the past IBM has used a 16 inch
extender in order to accommodate the large 60 drive disk enclosure.That
has now been trimmed down to only 8 inches and 0 for the gateway model and
RXC rack that houses only interface nodes.
gets a new file system upgrade to GPFS 3.4 PTF4. This will provide a significant performance
improvement over the R1.1.1x release. The updated file system handles small
file and random I/O a lot more efficiently. With this update we now use the role of
manager nodes instead of interface nodes to gain more flexibility in how
we track data in cache.
gifts SONAS received were new support for NDMP, Anti-virus support, use of
both 10GbE ports on the same CNA and some power updates for the EU countries.
And along with all of that, there
is a new performance monitoring package called Perfcol that collects more
information for analysis.
This SONAS release is labeled R1.2 and can be obtained by
contacting the technical advisor assigned to you.
Santa was also at the N series house and dropped off a few
gifts.A new N6270 to replace the
N6070.This new system is in line with
the N6200 series with larger amounts of RAM and processors.Just like the smaller N6240, there is an
expansion controller where customers can add more PCI control cards like HBAs,
10GbE or even FCoE.A new disk shelf was
also released which uses the smaller 2.5 inch drives with improved back end
And over at the Real Time Compression house they got new
support for EMC Celerra.
Over all a very busy time of year for IBM (and Santa) as
these were just a fraction of the Storage announcements today.Also today is the IBM Storage Executive
Summit in New York City.My friend and
fellow blogger Tony Pearson is covering this great event and will be updating
his blog and twitter feed.If you were
not able to make it to NYC for the event, feel free to tweet him your questions
@az990tonyYou can also send questions
to our IBM Storage feed at @ibmstorage
I had the pleasure to present at the IBM Technical conference (aka STG-U) this past week. I was asked to speak about NAS technology basics and how the world is moving to more and more NAS platforms. Typically I get to present on some type of product, SONAS, NSeries, and the like. This was very much different as I got the chance to go deeper into the technology with out talking too much about products. The session name I used was NAS 101: An Introduction into NAS technology. The idea was to help educate our technical teams about the history of NAS, how NAS works, some pitfalls and then NAS at IBM.
There is so much surrounding NAS and to boil all of that down to a 1 hr 15min presentation is pretty difficult. The other challenge is trying to keep the information relative to the amount of knowledge everyone has in the session. I had people who were very skilled storage engineers to people who just getting into the business. I hope the information I presented was relative at all levels.
I wanted to post my slide deck here so if you have a need or want me to come and help teach what NAS is all about feel free to contact me.
Just checking in from the IBM Booth as the Oracle Collaborate 2011 kicks off. There is lots of interest in the Watson Kiosk and people milling around each of the stands. If you are here at the show stop by and ask for the storage guys.
This week, I am at SNW in San Jose, CA. If you have never heard of the conference, its
all about storage and networking and pulls in all of the big vendors to put on
labs, lectures and a vendor hall. People
come from all over the world to this event to learn what is new and how to do
One thing that I love doing at these events is talking to
customers and potential customers about IBM storage technology solutions. Often we find the conversations do not talk
about products as much as the technology in them that fix some sort of issue in
the data center. I think this is best
seen when you come in to the IBM booth. There is no hardware to see blinking lights or
yank cables. We have something better,
people who know the solutions to your issues.
If you ask any of the IBMers that work these events, they
always say it’s a love hate relationship. The hours are long and you stand on feet for
4-8 hrs. The best part is talking about
IBM solutions and finding out what people are doing in the field. This is the best way to help drive innovation,
listening to the customer. IBM has
programs that send our developers into the field to listen to customers and
this is just one example of that program.
Another event at SNW this year was a gathering of the
storage social media moguls. This is a
non-vendor specific event and is open to everyone. It is associated with a certain hash tag of
#storagebeers and they have been going on all over the world. Last night was the largest storagebeers to
date and it was a whos who of this community. But what was better than meeting the people
that you see on twitter or those who write blogs, was the idea of putting all
of the vendor fighting behind us and just a group of people who work in the
storage industry talking about whatever was on their mind. If you find yourself at an event like SNW or
VMWorld, check to see if there is a #storagebeers and go back and meet some
really cool people.
If you are at SNW and want to come by for a chat, you will find me at
the IBM Booth today between 11am and 3pm. I would love to spend some
time learning about what you are doing in the data center.
One of my favorite TV programs is the BBC show Top Gear. They go through and test cars not only for handling, looks, and cup holders but mainly for power. At the end they run all of the cars through the same test track and get a time. That time then gets recorded on their list of all the cars tested and is celebrated for achievement or scorned at for doing poorly. No matter what the car turns up, they were all treated equally.
Today, IBM is announcing a test done by a certain benchmark called SPECsfs. This has been the yardstick for all NAS vendors wanting to flex their muscles and show how they handle small block I/O. Vendors can bring how ever many drives and tweaks they want but the test itself is very rigid and has to be certified before the results are published. IBM put together a SONAS system consisting of 10 interface nodes and 8 storage pods with all SAS disk. A total of about 900TB of usable disk, and about 1/3 of the maximum SONAS configuration. There was no solid state disk or extra tweaks done just a SONAS system that you could order today. That said, the IBM SONAS set a new world record for performance for a single file system at 403,000 IOPS per second. Yes you read that right, 403k IOPS in a single file system. If you look at the other vendors they have used multiple file systems to aggregate the performance together in order to achieve a benchmark. Then they tend to use a virtual name space with software that is layered over all of the file systems, but here SONAS is one file system over 900TB with a true global name space. Some issues with multiple file system is they cannot stripe data across the file systems and the load balancing becomes an issue. If you look at the comparison of performance per file system, you can see that IBM is WAY beyond the competitors. So you maybe asking, "Yeah that's pretty cool but what was the response time?". According to the test, the average response time was 3.23 MS from 0 to 403k IOPs per second. This is extremely good and when you think that was coming from one file system of 900TB, you realize how good that number is compared to other results. There will be tons of vendors trying to debunk how IBM out performed them and how they have better software or better market share but it really boils down to these key points:
· An all-spinning SAS disk SONAS configuration, typical of SONAS configurations being installed today · Single file system featuring ease of use, minimum complexity, global load balancing, sharing of resources, proof of scale · 903 TB usable capacity is indicative of current real life customer scale out NAS requirements · An environment in which all applications would benefit from the single file system and benefit from the high IOPs and excellent response time · One can clearly correlate the SONAS SPECsfs benchmark with the response time received to a real world application by today’s SONAS
I have included the slide deck for the announcement below. Feel free to check out the information on the SPECsfs website.
I was driving into the IBM Almaden Research Center and just enjoying the beautiful scenery of the San Jose area. The campus is on top of a hill and surrounded by farm lands. I would really like to have a corner office here, but I don't think I would get much done. So here is my Vlog for this morning and I am hoping to get some interviews on here from some of the presenters and attendees.
Day 1: Today, IBM has massed the troops together to learn more about the SONAS product and how the product will look in the near and far future. There is a ton of information they are dumping that I need time to just process it all. Its also nice to meet people from all around the world that have the same mission as I do. I hope to get some interviews tomorrow as well as listening to Sven Ohme talk about performance of the box.
This video is shot in front of the first hard drive, ever. What a testimonial to the IBM innovation. The first words written are..... you gotta watch to find out.
I am headed out west to learn more about SONAS and the future of the product. I think there will be lots of good information that I will try to share with you. If you have any question that you want to ask a SONAS developer, let me know as they will all be there!
Today IBM is releasing two new N6200 systems that will be a huge improvement over the existing N6000 systems. The two new systems will show a bump in capacity and performance and more flexibility. For a very crowded midrange market this new N series product set will bridge the gap between entry level and enterprise class systems
One of the biggest issues with the previous 6000 systems was the limited amount of PCI-e slots. The other issue is the lack of more common hardware onboard like SAS and 10gbps ethernet.
The first thing that stands out to me is the footprint of the new system. The older N6000 has a 6 U requirement for an HA pair. The new N6200 is half the size, only occupying 3U for the two HA pair, or a single node with a I/O expansion module, providing an additional four PCI-e cards. Another configuration is two controllers with two expansion modules in a total space of 6U (equal of the older N6000 systems) but with a total of 12 PCI-e slots (vs 8 on the older N6000).
We will recommend using the two slots built into the controller for high performance 10GbE and / or 8 Gb PC adapters. The additional expansion slots in the expansion module can be used for Flash Cache and other connectivity for disks.
The on-board hardware is getting an face lift as well. While the new system sports a 10GbE port this is used mainly for the interconnect and nothing else. This was one of the disappointments I have with this systems, but understand this is how Netapp will accomplish scale out clustering.
FC ports were kept at 4 Gbps but there is two new SAS ports with matching ACP (alternate control path) ports used for off loading some of the traffic from the data path.
One of the unsung updates was in the NVRAM. Instead of using the same memory in the past, we now see an improvement of the memory by using something called Asynchronous DRAM Refresh (ADR). This is a new self-refresh mode in the Intel chipset that allows a portion of the main memory to be backed by an on-board battery. This gives the NVRAM the same high bandwidth as main memory and also simplifies the design of the motherboard.
This gives the new N6200 systems a bump in performance along with the introduction of the new Intel processors. The SPECsfs benchmark on the highest N6200 system showed 101,183 ops at 1.66ms ORT compared to the N6060 showing 60,507 ops and 1.58ms ORT, an improvement of about 70% in SFS throughput.
IBM is introducing the IBM System Storage N6210 Series and the IBM System Storage N6240 Series These new systems replace the IBM N3600 and N6040 Series respectively. GA date is scheduled for January 28, 2011 (N6240) and February 25, 2011(N6210). Here is the slide deck that is published with the release.