Posts Tagged ‘storage tiering’

IBM Edge2014: It’s All About the Storage

May 22, 2014

When your blogger as a newbie programmer published his first desktop application in the pre-historic desktop computing era it had to be distributed on consumer tape cassette. When buyers complained that it didn’t work the problem was quickly traced to imprecise and inconsistent consumer cassette storage. Since the dawn of the computer era, it has always been about storage.

It still is. Almost every session at IBM Edge2014 seemed to touch on storage in one way or another.  Kicking it all off was Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President,  IBM Systems & Technology Group, who elaborated on IBM’s main theme not just for Edge2014 but for IBM at large: Infrastructure Matters Because Business Outcomes Matter. And by infrastructure IBM mainly is referring to storage. Almost every session, whether on cloud or analytics or mobile, touched on storage in one way or another.

To reinforce his infrastructure matters point Rosamilia cited a recent IBM study showing that 70% of top executives now recognize infrastructure as an enabler. However, just 10% reported their infrastructure was ready for the challenge.  As an interesting aside, the study found 91% of the respondents’ customer facing applications were using the System z, which only emphasizes another theme at IBM Edge2014—that companies need to connect systems of record with systems of engagement if they want to be successful.

In fact, IBM wants to speed up computing overall, starting with flash and storage. A study by the Aberdeen Group found that a 1 sec. delay in page load resulted in a 77% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.  IBM’s conclusion: In dollar terms, this means that if your site typically earns $100,000 a day, this year you could lose $2.5 million in sales.  Expect all IBM storage to be enabled for some form of flash going forward.

First announced at IBM Edge2014 were the FlashSystem 840 and the IBM FlashSystem V840, which includes integrated data virtualization through IBM’s SVC and its various components. It also boasts a more powerful controller capable of rich capabilities like compression, replication, tiering, thin provisioning, and more. Check out the details here.

Also at Edge2014 there was considerable talk about Elastic Storage. This is the storage you have always imagined. You can manage mixed storage pools of any device. Integrate with any OS. Write policies to it. It seems infinitely scalable. Acts as a universal cloud gateway. And even works with tape.

Sounds magical doesn’t it?  According to IBM, Elastic Storage provides automated tiering to move data from different storage media types. Infrequently accessed files can be migrated to tape and automatically recalled back to disk when required—sounds like EasyTier built in. Unlike traditional storage, it allows you to smoothly grow or shrink your storage infrastructure without application disruption or outages. And it can run on a cluster of x86 and POWER-based servers and can be used with internal disk, commodity storage, or advanced storage systems from IBM or other vendors. Half the speakers at the conference glowed about Elastic Storage.  Obviously it exists, but it is not an actually named product yet. Watch for it, but it is going to have a different name when finally released, probably later this year. No hint at what that name will be.

IBM, at the conference, identified the enhanced XIV as the ideal cloud infrastructure. XIV eliminates complexity. It enables high levels of resiliency and ensures service levels. As one speaker said: “It populates LUNs and spreads the workload evenly. You don’t even have to load balance it.” Basically, it is grid storage that is ideal for the cloud.

LTFS (Linear Tape File System) was another storage technology that came up surprisingly frequently. Don’t assume that that tape has no future, not judging from IBM Edge2014. LTFS provides a GUI that enables you to automatically move infrequently accessed data from disk to tape without the need for proprietary tape applications. Implementing LTFS Enterprise Edition allows you to replace disk with tape for tiered storage and lower your storage TCO by over 50%. Jon Toigo, a leading storage analyst, has some good numbers on tape economics that may surprise you.

Another sometimes overlooked technology is EasyTier, IBM’s storage tiering tool.  EasyTier has evolved into a main way for IBM storage users to capitalize on the benefits of Flash. EasyTier already has emerged as an effective tool for both the DS8000 and the Storwize V7000.  With EasyTier small amounts of Flash can deliver big performance improvements.

In the coming weeks DancingDinosaur will look at other IBM Edge 2014 topics.  It also is time to start thinking about IBM Enterprise 2014, which combines the System z and Power platforms. It will be at the Venetian in Las Vegas, Oct 6-10. IBM Enterprise 2014 is being billed as the premier enterprise infrastructure event.

BTW, we never effectively solved the challenge of distributing desktop programs until the industry came out with 5.5” floppy disks. Years later my children used the unsold floppies as little Frisbees.

Follow Alan Radding and DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog

Virtualized Storage Comes to the zEnterprise/zBX

March 27, 2012

Huh? Mainframe storage has been virtualized for decades. In a presentation at the latest SHARE gathering, however, Dave Lytle from Brocade and Bill Smith from Hitachi Data Systems gave a joint presentation about bringing virtual storage to the z.

In the presentation they explained how the Brocade DCX 8510 Backbone switch combined with the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) provide an alternative for mainframe-attached storage environments.  They aren’t suggesting you replace the workhorse DS8000 mainframe storage but, rather, augment it.

They call for an open virtualized storage infrastructure that makes it possible to deploy lower cost storage devices in conjunction with automated data tiering to lower the overall total cost of storage.  The cost savings result from shifting more of the storage to slower but less expensive open systems storage through the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP).  When a piece of data needs the faster, more costly primary z storage, the automation brings it back. Without the automation, this would be a slow, error-prone operation that almost nobody would bother with.

The promise, say Lytle and Smith, is faster deployment of new applications and non-disruptive re-deployment of storage assets between mainframe and open system environments. This kind of dynamic tiering already has gained traction in the open systems world.  Even the big mainframe storage players, IBM and EMC, have products there. IBM has the automated System Storage Easy Tier offering and EMC brings its Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) product.

In addition to the HDS VSP offering the approach described by Lytle and Smith is built around a new 16 Gbps Fibre Channel Brocade DCX 8510 Backbones switching infrastructure. According to Brocade, they match the industry’s fastest and most scalable System z mainframes with the highest-performing and most reliable FICON infrastructure to maximize consolidation and virtualization of traditional mainframe and emerging Linux and Windows workloads. All the while they simplifying fabric management for FICON and Fibre Channel intermix environments. The Brocade DCX 8510 directors have been qualified for mainframe environments, allowing enterprises to fully exploit the capabilities of the IBM zEnterprise FICON infrastructure.

The reference to traditional mainframe and emerging Linux and Windows workloads sounds like the zEnterprise/zBX combination. Basically, you should be able to connect your lower cost, lower performing open system storage for use with your zBX Windows blades and manage it all through the z.  DancingDinosaur sees some definite cost, efficiency, and convenience advantages in that alone while providing one more reason for organizations to consider the zBX with Windows blades.

The Brocade and HDS products do boast some impressive capabilities.  The Brocade FICON product offers a simultaneous send-and-receive 16Gbps line rate on all chassis ports concurrently (no blocking), five-nines (99.999%) availability, and 4x improvement in energy efficiency over competitive switches.

The HDS VSP is fully mainframe compatible. It provides frontend and backend directors, cache, and processors to handle time-sensitive processing tasks and supports multiple types of disk drive (SSD, SAS and SATA) to meet a variety of performance and cost requirements. The virtual storage directors and cache combine to deliver performance throughput of over 1 million IOP/s with full FICON support.

The issue of connecting zEnterprise and open systems storage for the purposes of tiering is just ramping up.  Lytle and Smith report plans already underway for the next SHARE gathering (Aug. 5-10, 2012) in Anaheim, CA.  The MVS group at SHARE apparently is preparing to bring IBM, EMC, and HDS together to talk about tiering on the mainframe.


%d bloggers like this: