ibm_system_storage_ds8870I, for one, am sick and tired of folks referring to all storage as commodity kit.  I am tired of hearing how all arrays are all the same, regardless of vendor, when you take away the value-add software that peddlers have elected to join at the hip to a proprietary controller.  That storage arrays are the devil, designed to rip off the consumer by locking him into an endless cycle of warranty and maintenance agreement upgrades that cost as much as the original box.

Oh, wait.  I have said that a lot in my career…usually to diss a box that doesn’t deliver the goods, or maybe to promote some storage virtualization methodology or to contextualize the benefits of some software-defined storage model.

I realize now that it is wrong to paint all storage with the same brush.  The truth is that storage costs way too much for what is typically inside the cabinet.  But, in the case of the latest DS8000 array from IBM, I have to tip my hat to the hardware engineers for the hoops they have taught the old gray mare of DASD to jump through.  The DS8870, together with the new 7.5 firmware version, has proven that you could both lead the horse to water and teach it to fly.

I came to this conclusion at IBM Edge 2015 a month or so back, where I was convinced by a charming IBM marketing maven to give a listen to the DS8800 team about what they were announcing at the show.  I had used DS products in my data centers years ago and tended to think of them as workhorse storage DASD without a lot of flare or sizzle to speak of.  They were always rock solid products, but not to my mind the jewel in the crown of IBM’s tier one-heavy storage line.  But that was my youth talking.

Truth is, the one thing you want from enterprise storage today is rock solid.  After years of consuming sugary feature-laden arrays in the distributed world, we all have Type 2 Diabetes.  A good day is one without sugar swings — a day of level meter readings.  Once you have the Big D, that steady reliable array has a lot of appeal.  No drama, just solid dependability.

To my surprise, even this was not a fully functioning metaphor for the benefits of the DS8870.  This is dependability on steroids, beginning with its hardware engineering and its firmware.  I recorded a couple of IBM smart guys, Eddie Lin and Nick Clayton, to help walk me through latest features of the kit.  Here is that interview.

Thanks to Eddie and Nick for reminding me about the importance of good engineering in the delivery of a solid, high performance, enterprise class storage platform (that actually earns each of those monikers).  Just as important, I commend IBM for continuing its development of great storage kit and especially for its embrace of RESTful management in version 7.5 of the DS firmware.  For anyone who is interested, here is a Redbook from IBM on the DS firmware.

For the record, I was a guest at IBM Edge 2015 and was compensated for delivering five training classes at IBM Technical University at Edge and for participating in live social media activities at the event.  This opinion, however, and my decision to cover the DS8000 technology, was entirely my own.



Rain, Rain, Go Away…Maybe to California

by Administrator on July 27, 2015

tbstormHere in Tampa Bay, Florida, we are in the midst of a veritable monsoon.  Every day has seen an inundation by the wet stuff, flooding streets and discovering inroads to offices and homes that we all hoped didn’t exist.

Fortunately, I had my roof replaced last year after it was partially taken off by a tropical storm that blew through the area.  My tuccus was saved on that occasion by my installation of DataCore SANsymphony-V.  In one corner of my office, water came through the ceiling and fried a bunch of name brand storage gear.  Fortunately, I was using DataCore to virtualize the capacity of the pricey rigs and to keep an active-active cluster running between the three-letter gear and some white box stuff I had built myself.  When the water killed the storage on one side of the room, DataCore simply switched over to the white box repository and sent me a polite message to do something about the failed storage systems.

I salvaged the drives and ditched the rest, then built some more white box rigs.  DataCore SANsymphony provides the acceleration, load balancing and local mirroring services that I need.  Good for local protection.

Of course, as I point out at every chance I get, local protection is not enough.  I just ranted about this on Virtualization Review:  feel free to check out my just-published piece HERE.  And have spent several hours of my webinar time of late talking about the subject at length.  Here are a few resources for you…

Here is “Building Storage for Availability & Survivability” — a webinar we did at IT-SENSE last month with StarWind Software available for replay anytime.

For you mainframers, here is a well-attended webinar we did late last year — with sponsor 21st Century Software.  Again, you can watch it anytime on replay.

And here’s one on a topic I am doing a lot of speaking around in the coming month or two.  This webinar is entitled, “Defining the Role of Clouds in Data Protection.”  Replay at will.

And here is one we did recently with DataCore Software entitled “The Unrealized Dream of Data Availability and What You Can Do About It.”

I should also mention that the best kind of disaster is the one you don’t have.  Proactive disaster avoidance requires management and monitoring of applications and infrastructure — something you can do fairly readily using tools from SolarWinds.  Here is the webinar we just did with that company, “Open the Pod Bay Doors, Hal!” View it at your leisure, maybe while you are waiting for the rain to subside.

Furthering our quest to get everyone to spend a few cycles considering, preparing for and testing disaster avoidance and recovery strategies, I will be speaking at an event in Minneapolis on August 11 for a company called PRX Technologies.  If you are in that area, maybe you can join us.  Here are the details for my host, PRX Technologies.

The following week, around August 18, you can find me preaching the gospel of DR with ARCSERVE in a sponsored webinar for Redmond Magazine, then I will be doing a Supercast on the role of clouds in DR (including both the silver and the grey aspects of the strategy) on August 27 for 1105 Media.  Details will follow on both events.

Anyway, I am doing my part.  I hope you will find some of these resources useful in your quest for availability and recoverability.


One Last Thing…

Be on the lookout for the reboot of the Data Management Institute, which will include free, multi-segment, in depth video based training on data management, storage infrastructure, data protection, data security, and more.  Data protection modules are already in development…



Z News is all Good for IBM

by Administrator on July 21, 2015

mfThis is one of those cases when I am delighted to say, “I TOLD YOU SO.”

The new mainframe from IBM that I have been tracking since January is putting up some solid sales numbers in today’s second quarter earnings report from Big Blue.  Business Insider has the stats and charts.

I have been a huge fan of the MF since my earliest days in the data center.  My first one was an IBM 4361, though I used earlier models when doing statistics in college.

Frankly, I am getting misty thinking about a whole new generation of kids who have grown up on x96 tinker toys, never understanding the idea or advantages of a mainframe.  So, I made up these images to help “edumacate the newbs”.

First off, everybody likes clouds.  Well, mainframes are clouds.  They are an important component of any sort of viable enterprise cloud strategy for a lot of reasons…


To quote Led Zeppelin in Stairway to Heaven, “[I]t’s whispered that soon, if we all call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason.” So, it has apparently come to be with mainframes. The word is getting out how they enable fast allocation and deallocation of resources to application workload, how they are capable of hosting up to 8000 virtual machines, how they consume much less power and cooling and floorspace than all the racks of servers that would be required to provide the same application hosting capabilities…


That makes them green.  Super green.

And it is only right that IBM gets to harvest them…


Congrats to the IBM zSystem team.


Money Talks. BS Walks.

by Administrator on July 20, 2015

datacoreboxingposterThat is a pretty straightforward summary of the webinar I am involved in this week with DataCore Software.  Fighting the Hidden Costs of Data Storage is the official title (though my original suggestions were a bit more flamboyant, shall we say) and our goal is to help folks to understand (1) why storage costs so dang much, (2) why there is nothing about software-defined or hyperconverged storage that is automatically going to bend the cost curve, and (3) what you can do about cost containment with the grey matter between your ears and some software goodness from an independent software developer, DataCore Software.

As you can see at left, I dreamed up some creative for the event, including a mock fight announcement poster and a deck theme based on boxing.  But, I have been told not to adopt too pugilistic a tone — we are all so PC now.  So, don’t expect me to say something like, “The only industry with the same product cost dynamic as storage is cocaine:  the more the vendor ‘cuts’ the product the more money he can make.”  And don’t expect me to diss Evil Machine Corporation or its peers:  let’s face it, VMware is engaged in a much grander scheme of consumer lock-in than EMC ever conceived.

But I won’t say any of those things.  We will look at the elements that contribute cost to storage, which today accounts for between $.33 and $.70 of every dollar spent on IT hardware, depending on the analyst you consult.  Here is my simple calculus for storage TCO (I wrote a paper about it that I think everyone who attends the DataCore event can download at the show)…


The good news is that, whether I get to rant or not, DataCore promises to bring some real cost-containment value to storage infrastructure, as it has demonstrated repeatedly in every one of the tens of thousands of companies where it is used (including mine).  It is a pleasure to do this presentation with them and I hope some of you will register to attend.  Who knows, you might even get a few ideas for containing your storage costs.  The show starts on Tuesday (tomorrow) 21 July at 10AM ET.  Be there!



The Most Important Topic in IT Today

July 15, 2015

I am making final preparations right now for our next IT-SENSE Brown Bag Webinar, which happens at Noon ET today, on the topic of IT Infrastructure Management.  As expected for a mid-summer event and one covering the topic of management technology, registrations for the live event are pretty sparse.  Unless there is a last minute […]

Read the full article →

Webinar Tomorrow: HAL 9000, Skynet, Pick Your Poison…

July 14, 2015

Is AI (as in artificial intelligence) going to be required to solve our infrastructure management challenges?  IBM has been talking a lot about using Watson technology to do the heavy lifting of status data collection and analysis in infrastructure monitoring and management.  Has it really gotten that bad?  Have we let things go to the point […]

Read the full article →

Open the Pod Bay Door, Hal

July 13, 2015

Stanley Kubrick’s great interpretation of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey in his 1968 film harkens back some cherished memories for me.  In its day, it was truly groundbreaking stuff with I think ZERO computer graphic effects.  Today, of course, it may have some quaint inaccuracies — for example, it took another decade or so […]

Read the full article →

Disaster Recovery and Dead Parrots on My Mind

July 13, 2015

I recently had a piece published on TechTarget’s SearchStorage site, entitled “Dump DR in Favor of High-Availability Features? Not So Fast!” (thanks to my friends there who are willing to provide a home for my unsolicited rants from time to time) that became something of a meme in various writings and presentations I have been delivering since late […]

Read the full article →

Catching Up with Caringo

June 22, 2015

Back from the many conferences I have attended leading up to the Summer, I had a chance to learn more about the state of object storage.  IBM’s folks have told me to “watch this space” suggesting that some moves in the object world might be in the offing.  In the meantime, I thought I should […]

Read the full article →

A Little Summer Reading

June 22, 2015

Having just finished a webinar with DataCore Software on the topic of Data Availability, I realized that this is a line of inquiry that is well worth addressing with as many software-defined storage vendors who will respond.  I have also written articles on this topic for the next issue of Virtualization Review and another for Enterprise Systems magazines […]

Read the full article →