Sunday, June 3, 2012

Join the World Tech Jam

Brainstorm ideas to address urgent challenges facing our world

Join the World Tech Jam running from June 5 to 7 and share your perspectives with decision makers from around the world on common issues and challenges affecting all of us. IBM and the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) are co-hosting the jam in advance of the WCIT 2012 Conference in Montreal, October 22-24. The output of the World Tech Jam will help to create a Digital Society Action Plan at the conference to inform, inspire and guide decision makers as they formulate policy for the future.

“When compared to conventional engagement techniques, jamming or digital brainstorming has many advantages,” said Anthony Williams, WCIT 2012 Program Chair. “And for the first time, IT users around the world will lead the conversation. This event will give users a voice – this is a giant step for the IT world and a first.”

The Jam provides a rare opportunity for you to:
•  collaborate with experts you normally would not have access to
•  find out what’s on people’s minds in key policy areas and add your perspective
•  contribute as a professional and a citizen
•  showcase yourself as an expert and a leader in your field

Register here to attend.

Five forums

Participate in any or all of the five forums to discuss, suggest and debate around policies impacting the IT industry's growth and development – specifically opportunities and challenges affecting the digital society and some of the biggest issues that affect all of us.

1. Collaborative Healthcare

Hosts: Sean Hogan, IBM Vice President, Global Healthcare Delivery Systems and Richard Alvarez, CEO, Canada Health Infoway

Provide insights into the future of healthcare innovation, and discover how citizens can get directly involved in the personalized medical revolution that is sweeping the globe.

2. Closing the Global Skills Gap

Hosts: Mike King, Global Education Industry Executive, IBM, and David Ticoll, Executive Director, CareerMash

Debate solutions to the global skills gap, including pioneering educational innovations that could put world-class educational resources in the hands of aspiring students everywhere.

3. Smart Cities and Transportation

Hosts: Gerry Mooney, General Manager, Global Smarter Cities, IBM, and Jeb Brugmann, Author and Consultant, Welcome to the Urban Revolution: How Cities Are Changing the World

Explore ideas for sustainable urban living, and discover why the movement toward smart cities will be one of the most important developments of the 21st Century.

4. Energy, the Environment & Sustainability

Hosts: Sharon Nunes, Vice President, Global Government & Smarter Cities Strategy and Solutions, IBM and Dr. Peter Williams, Chief Technology Officer, "Big Green" Innovations, IBM

Voice environmental concerns and related innovations, and discuss how the application of digital technologies can enable smart grids and smart appliances to help dramatically reduce global emissions by 2020 and deliver $464 billion in global energy cost savings to businesses, taxpayers, and consumers.

5. Media, Arts & Culture in the Digital Age

Hosts: Saul Berman, Global Strategy Consulting Leader, IBM, and Anthony Williams, Author, Wikinomics

Join the debate on the future of media and culture in a digital world, and learn how tech-savvy authors, journalists, musicians, filmmakers, and artists are adapting to the digital revolution.

The Jam is open to all IBMers, clients and all other interested participants for 72 hours: Tuesday June 5 at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time through 8:00 p.m. Thursday June 7.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ficon Express8

FICON Express8
Earlier this year IBM announced the FICON Express8 adapter for the System z10 processors. The FICON Express8 adapter auto negotiates with devices operating at 2, 4 or 8 Gbps. It does not support older devices that only operate at 1 Gbps. As of this time, it is the only FICON adapter available on new System z10s.

Like earlier versions of the FICON Express adapter, each FICON Express 8 card has four ports Any port can support FICON (Type=FC) or Fibre Channel Protocol (Type=FCP) based on the specification in the HCD.

Some devices, such as the DS8000 have channel adapters that can be configured for either FICON or FCP, while other devices, such as the IBM XIV only support FCP.

Fibre Channel Protocol for SCSI

The Fibre Channel Protocol (FC-FCP) standard was developed by the International Committee of Information Technology Standards (INCITS), and published as ANSI standards. The System z Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) I/O architecture conforms to the FC standards specified by the INCITS.

As mentioned previously, each member of the FICON Express family (FICON Express8, FICON Express4, FICON Express2, and FICON Express) supports channel ports that can be defined in FCP mode. FCP mode provides full fabric attachment of SCSI devices to the operating system images. This allows z/VM, z/VSE, and Linux on System z to access industry-standard SCSI storage controllers and devices.

With FCP channel full fabric support, multiple switches/directors can be placed between the System z server and SCSI device, allowing many “hops” through a storage area network (SAN) and providing improved utilization of intersite-connected resources and infrastructure. This may help to provide more choices for storage solutions or the ability to use existing storage devices and can help facilitate the consolidation of UNIX® server farms onto System z servers, protecting investments in SCSI-based storage.

Support of FCP enables System z servers to attach to SCSI devices as well as access these devices from z/VM, z/VSE or Linux on System z. This connectivity provides enterprises with a wide range of choices for storage solutions and may allow use of existing storage devices, helping to protect existing hardware investment, reduce total cost of ownership for Linux implementations and simplify the effort of rehosting current server-based applications onto Linux on System z.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

As 2008 draws to a close...

As 2008 draws to a close, I am reminded of some of the more interesting storage announcements of the last half of 2008. For those of you who might have missed some of these, here is a second chance.

High Performance Ficon (zHPF) and Incremental Resynch

IBM October 21, 2008

These announcements may have been overlooked because of the z10 processor announcements made on the same day.

IBM System Storage DS6000 series Models 511 and EX1 offer a new price/performance option with 450 GB 15,000 rpm disk drives

IBM System Storage DS8000 series (Machine type 2107) delivers new functional capabilities (zHPF and RMZ resync) for System z environments

IBM System Storage DS8000 series (Machine types 2421, 2422, 2423, and 2424) delivers new functional capabilities (zHPF and RMZ resync)

High Performance FICON for System z improves performance

IBM now provides High Performance FICON for System z (zHPF). Previously, FICON with DS8000 series functions provided a high-speed connection supporting multiplexed operation. High Performance FICON takes advantage of the hardware available today, with enhancements that are designed to reduce the overhead associated with supported commands, that can improve FICON I/O throughput on a single DS8000 port by 100%.

Enhancements have been made to the z/Architecture® and the FICON interface architecture to deliver improvements for online transaction processing (OLTP) workloads.

When exploited by the FICON channel, the z/OS operating system, and the control unit, zHPF is designed to help reduce overhead and improve performance. The changes to the architectures offer end-to-end system enhancements to improve reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS). Existing adapters will be able to handle an intermix of transactions using FCP, FICON, and High Performance FICON protocols.

Realistic production workloads with a mix of data transfer sizes can see up to 30 to 70% of FICON I/Os utilizing zHPF, resulting in up to a 10 to 30% savings in channel utilization.

z/OS Metro/Global Mirror Incremental Resync allows efficient replication

The IBM DS8000 series now supports z/OS Metro/Global Mirror Incremental Resync which can eliminate the need for a full copy after a HyperSwaptm situation in 3-site z/OS Metro/Global Mirror configurations.

Previously, the DS8000 series supported z/OS Metro/Global Mirror which is a 3-site mirroring solution that utilizes IBM System Storage Metro Mirror and z/OS Global Mirror (XRC). The z/OS Metro/Global Mirror Incremental Resync capability is intended to enhance this solution by enabling resynchronization of data between sites using only the changed data from the Metro Mirror target to the z/OS Global Mirror target after a GDPS® HyperSwap. This can significantly reduce the amount of data to be copied after a Hyperswap situation and improve the resilience of an overall 3-site disaster recovery solution by reducing resync times.

And if you would like to review the z10 processor announcements, the links can be found here:

IBM System z10 Enterprise Class - The future runs on System z10, the future begins today

IBM System z10 Business Class - The smart choice for your business. z can do IT better

IBM System Storage DS8000 series delivers new flexibility and data protection options

August 12, 2008


IBM System Storage DS8000 series (Machine types 2421, 2422, 2423, and 2424) delivers new flexibility and data protection options

IBM System Storage DS8000 series (Machine type 2107) delivers new flexibility and data protection options

New functional capabilities for the DS8000tm series include:
* RAID-6
* 450 GB 15,000 rpm Fibre Channel Disk Drive
* Variable LPAR
* Extended Address Volumes
* Ipv6

IBM XIV Storage System: designed to provide grid-based, enterprise-class storage capabilities

August 12, 2008

IBM XIV Storage System: designed to provide grid-based, enterprise-class storage capabilities

The IBM XIV Storage System is designed to be a scalable enterprise storage system based upon a grid array of hardware components. XIV is designed to:
* Support customers requiring Fibre Channel (FC) or Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) host connectivity
* Provide a high level of consistent performance with no data hot-spots in the grid-based storage device
* High redundancy through the use of unique grid-based rebuild technology
* Provide support for 180 SATA hard drive spindles providing up to 79 TB of useable capacity
* Provide Capacity on Demand option starting at 21.2 TB raw capacity
* Support 24 x 4Gb Fibre Channel ports for host connectivity
* Support 6 x 1Gb iSCSI ports for host connectivity
* Support 120 GB of total system cache

Monday, August 11, 2008

Disasters come in all sizes

Burst pipe damages three businesses

Three businesses in the Millyard Technology Park were damaged by water Saturday when a pipe burst.

A restaurant and two technology companies were affected, according to Nashua Fire Rescue Lt. Byron Breda.

The pipe was in the third-floor restaurant, and water was spilling out for about an hour before the soaked fixtures triggered the fire alarm, Breda said. The water leaked from the restaurant to the second and first floors, he said.

Breda said a computer company sustained the worst damage because its mainframe got soaked, Breda said.

After arriving on scene, fire crews shut off the water, tried to recover as much property as possible and pumped out the water, Breda said. The dollar value of the damage is unclear, Breda said.

--Published: Sunday, August 10, 2008 in the Nashua Telegraph

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What good is a Business Continuity Plan if the hotsite is also under 20-feet of water?

The other day, someone asked me an interesting question: “What good is a Business Continuity Plan if the client’s hotsite is [also] under 20-feet of water?”

First, at a very high level, a good Business Continuity Plan is more business and process centric rather than data and IT centric. A BCP does not replace a functioning Disaster Recovery Plan, but rather builds upon it or includes it (assuming that the DRP is viable and tested) as one of its components.
The lines between a DRP and BCP are slightly blurred as each installation tends to implement things just a little bit differently.

A good DR plan is one that when exercised (tested) or executed for real, recovers the data and IT infrastructure (including circuits, etc.) and provides a useable environment at a pre-determined level of service. In many cases the DRP may not attempt to replicate the entire production environment, but will provide lesser, yet agreed-upon level of service until a return-to-normal is possible or the production environment can be rebuilt.

In the situation where “the client’s hotsite is [also] under 20-feet of water” I have a couple of different observations, but unfortunately, no real solution to offer.

We can infer from the fact that the client did establish a hotsite that there was some sort of a Disaster Recovery Plan. Perhaps not as complete or effective as it could have been, but still a plan none the less. But was the plan successful? The most obvious answer is “NO” since the recovery site was also under water.

But, is that really true? What if the DR planning process had correctly identified the risk of the hotsite suffering a concurrent failure AND management either actively accepted the risk or simply decided not to fund a solution?

In this case, the DR plan did not fail. I’d be hard pressed to call it a “success,” but one could honestly say that it worked as expected given the situation. Now I know that this is very much like saying “The operation was a success but the patient died.” However, this does underscore the idea that simply having a DR plan is insufficient to protect the enterprise. The DR plan must be frequently tested and also be designed to support a wide range of possible situations.

If we find that the DRP didn’t fail, the Business Continuity Plan, BCP (or lack of) failed miserably. No Business Continuity is possible for this client and the possibility of eventual recovery is dependant upon luck and super human efforts.

If however, the risk associated with the hotsite flooding had not been identified to management, then the Disaster Recovery Planning failed as well as the Business Continuity Plan.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity are both similar to an insurance policy: It is difficult to quantify a financial return on investment and by the time any of the (obvious) benefits become tangible it’s way too late to implement!

That’s one of the reasons why governing bodies have been forced to mandate recovery. One of the best set of guidelines that I’ve seen are the draft regulations for financial institutions that were published after 9/11: “Interagency Concept Release: Draft Interagency White Paper on Sound Practices to Strengthen the Resilience of the U. S. Financial System”. [Links to this and similar documents can be found by visiting NASRP.]

The requirements were something like “each financial institution should have [at least] two data centers [at least] 200-300 miles apart. Both locations should be staffed and either location must be capable of supporting the entire workload.” Unfortunately, these regulations were never signed into law. I suspect this may be due in part to the realization by some elected officials that the mileage limit would move part of the tax revenue out of their local area!

Still, the guidelines were sound – at least as a starting point. Would that have prevented the submersed hotsite example? Maybe / maybe not. It depends on distance and many other factors. Even following these draft regulations, the possibility of multiple concurrent failures exist. There simply isn’t a guarantee.

This is precisely why some companies that are very serious about business continuity have gone beyond having a single hotsite and instead have moved into a three-site configuration. As you might imagine, there are several variations of a three-site BCDR configuration. One of my favorites is where there is a “local” (say, less than 100 miles distant) active mirror site that can instantly assume the workload (Recovery Time Objective = zero) with zero data loss (Recovery Point Objective = zero). This can be achieved by synchronous mirroring of the data, but does tend to limit the distance between the two sites.

The third site is much farther away – say 1000 to 2000 miles away. Data is propagated using an asynchronous data mirroring process. Because asynchronous mirroring is used to propagate data into this third site, there can be some data lost. This will equate to a Recovery Point Objective > zero. The amount of data that can be lost is anywhere from a “few seconds” to an hour or so based on several factors including distance, available bandwidth and the particular mirroring methodology implemented. Generally this tertiary site will have a Recovery Time Objective > zero as well, as some additional processing or recovery steps may be needed before full services can be restored.

Is this a “belt & suspenders” approach? Yes it is. Is it expensive? Yes it is. Is it necessary for every client environment? Certainly not. But it is appropriate for some environments. Is this solution sufficient to guarantee recovery in all situations? No, there is still no 100% guarantee even with this solution.

With these issues in mind, I try to approach each Business Continuity Planning (or Disaster Recovery Planning) effort with the following two thoughts:

• The recovery planning process is essentially additive: Once you have a process that works up to it’s limits, then it’s time to evaluate solutions that address issues not covered by the current plan. In this fashion, there is always another recovery solution that can be added to the current BCDR environment, but each additional solution brings with it additional costs and provides marginally less benefit.
• At some point, the cost of the possible additive solutions will exceed what the company is able (or willing) to fund. Both the costs and alternatives must be clearly understood for management to make a decision that is appropriate for that company and situation.

In Summary, no BCDR solution can provide a 100% guarantee. It is very important that the limits and risks of the existing plans are correctly identified before disaster strikes.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

zIIP Assisted z/OS Global Mirror: Significant cost reduction

Going back through some of the more recent processor announcements reminded me there are some significant cost savings available to the hundreds of XRC (Global Mirror for zSeries) customers out there.

Global Mirror for zSeries is of course, an asynchronous disk mirroring technique that mirrors mainframe data across any distance. This process is controlled by the SDM (or System Data Mover) which is application code running in one or more z/OS LPARs – usually at the recovery site.

Depending upon the size of the configuration – the number of volumes to be mirrored and the number of XRC “readers” defined, this could place a significant load on the processor CPs, and could require multiple CPs just to support the SDMs.

Beginning with z/OS 1.8, IBM began enabling much of the SDM code to be eligible to run on the IBM System z9 and z10 Integrated Information Processors (zIIPs). The zIIP assisted z/OS Global Mirror functions can provide better price performance and improved utilization of resources at the mirrored site.

This improved TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is accomplished in two ways: First, IBM charges less for the specialty processors – like zIIPs – than then standard general purpose CPs. Secondly, the processing power used on zIIP processors enabled on the physical z9 or z10 CEC is NOT included in the general MSU ("Millions of Service Units”) figure that vendors use to determine your software charges.

Thus, if you are not currently offloading the SDM processing onto the zIIP processors on your z9 or z10, then you could experience some significant cost savings by moving towards this configuration.

Friday, July 18, 2008

IBM and Sun both announce 1TB tape drives

It has been an interesting week, but certainly the most significant storage news is that IBM and Sun both introduced One-terabyte Tape Drives.

IBM and Sun Microsystems have once again brought enterprise tape storage drives into the spotlight: Sun's announcement was made on Monday July 14 and IBM announced its new product just a day later. Now, whichever vendor you embrace, you have new options for enterprise tape storage at a lower TCO (total cost of ownership) and increased storage capacity.

On Monday, with an exclamation of “Bigger is Better, Biggest is Best,” Sun announced that it had succeeded in developing the very first one-terabyte tape drive, the Sun StorageTek T10000B. This new drive provides a maximum of 1TB of storage capacity on a single cartridge for open or mainframe system environments. Unfortunately for Sun, the bragging rights over “biggest” was short-lived as the very next day IBM announced a new tape drive that offers the same capacity as the Sun drive, but is also faster. Named the TS1130, IBM's new device will store up to one TB of data per cartridge and offers a native data rate of 160 MB/s – compared to 120 MB/s for the T10000B.

Both drives re-use existing media, thus providing backward read/write compatibility and asset protection for the current customers, and claim to support up to 1 TB of native capacity (uncompressed) per tape cartridge.

The T10000B (like previous drives) has the ‘control unit’ function built into the drive and supports FICON and Fibre Channel.

The TS1130 has dual FC ports and can connect directly open systems servers, or FICON and ESCON support is available utilizing the TS1120 or 3592 Tape Controllers.

Here is a side by side comparison of some of the “speeds and feeds”:

DescriptionSun T10000BIBM TS1130
Data transfer rate (uncompressed)120 MB/sec160 MB/sec
Max Data transfer rate360 MB/sec (4 Gb Interface), (compressed, maximum)400MB/Sec
Capacity, native (uncompressed)1 TB (240 GB for Sport Cartridge)1TB (using JB/JX media), 640GB (using JA/JW media) or 128GB (using JJ/JR media)
Data Connectivity
Interface4 Gb Fibre Channel, FICONDual-ported 4-Gbps native switched fabric Fibre Channel. The drives can be directly attached to open systems servers with Fibre Channel, or to ESCON or FICON servers with the TS1120 Tape Controller Model C06 or the IBM Enterprise Tape Controller 3592 Model J70.
Height3.5 in. (8.89 cm)3.8 in. (95 mm)
Depth16.75 in. (42.55 cm)18.4 in. (467 mm)
Width5.75 in. (14.61 cm)5.9 in. (150 mm)
Operating Temperature+50° F to +104° F (+10° C to +40° C)16°to 32°C (60°to 90°F)
Operating Relative humidity20% to 80%20% to 80% non-condensing (limited by media)
Tape format
FormatLinear serpentineLinear serpentine
Consumption/dissipation (operating maximum continuous - not peak)63 W (drive only) and 90 W (including power supply)46 Watts (drive and integrated blower)
Consumption/dissipation (operating maximum continuous - not peak)420 BTU/hr307 BTU/hr
EncryptionThe crypto-ready StorageTek T10000B tape drive works in conjunction with the Sun Crypto Key Management Channel rate, uncompressed sustained (Fibre Channel) 120 MB/sec System (KMS). The KMS delivers a simple, secure, centralized solution for managing the keys used to Interface specifications (Fibre Channel) N and NL port, FC-AL-2, FCP-2, FC-tape, 4 Gb FC encrypt and decrypt data written by the T10000B tape drive. Developed on open security standards, the Read/write compatibility interface T10000 format KMS consists of the Key Management Appliance, a security-hardened Sun Fire x2100 M2 rack mounted server and the KMS Manager graphical user interface (GUI) that is executed on a workstation. The KMS runs without regard to application, operating platform, or primary storage device. It complies with Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 certification. Requirements and specifications may change, so check with your Sun representative.
Built-in encryption of a tape's contents for z/OS, z/VM, IBM i, AIX, HP, Sun, Linux and Windows