Cloud vs Tape, keep the kittens off your data!

February 4, 2016 2 comments

Currently, I am working with a customer on their archive data and we are discussing which is the better medium for their data that never gets read back into their environment.  They have about 200TB of data that is sitting on their Tier 1 that is not being accessed, ever. The crazy part is this data is growing faster than the database that is being accessed by their main program.

This is starting to pop up more and more as the unstructured data is eating up storage systems and not being used very frequently. I have heard this called dark data or cold data. In this case its frozen data.

We started looking at what it would cost them over a 5 year period to store their data on both tape and cloud. Yes, that four letter word is still a very good option for most customers.  We wanted to keep the exercise simple so we agreed that 200TB would be the size of the data and there would be no recalls on the data. We know most cloud providers charge extra for the recalls so we wanted and of course the tape system doesn’t have that extra cost so we wanted an apples to apples comparison. As close as we could.

For the cloud we used Amazon Glacier pricing which is about $0.007 per GB per month. Our formula for cloud:

200TB X 1000GB X $0.007 x 60 months = $84,000

The tape side of the equation was a little more tricky but we decided that we would just look at the tape media and tape library in comparison. I picked an middle of the road tape library and the new LTO7 media.

Tape Library TS3200 street price $10,000 + 48 LTO7 tapes (@ $150 each) = $17,200

We then looked at the ability to scale and what would happen if they factored in their growth rate. They are growing at 20% annually which translates to 40TB a year. Keeping the same platforms what would be their 5 year cost? Cloud was..

200TB + (Growth of 3.33TB per month) x 1000GB x 60 months = $125,258

Tape was calculated at:

$10,000 for the library + (396TB/6TB LTO7s capacity)x$150 per tape = $19,900

We all here how cloud is so much cheap and easier to scale but after doing this quick back of the napkin math I am not so sure. I know what some of you are saying that we didn’t calculate the server costs and the 4 FTEs it takes to manage a tape system. I agree this is basic but in this example this is a small to medium size company that is trying to invest money into getting their product off the ground. The tape library is fairly small and should be a set it and forget it type of solution. I doubt there will much more overhead for the tape solution than a cloud. Maybe not as cool or flashy but for $100,000 over 5 years they can go out and buy their 5 person IT staff a $100 lunch everyday, all five years.

So to those who think tape is a four letter word and is that thing in the corner that no one wants to deal with, I say embrace it and squeeze the value out of them. Most IT shops have tape still and can show to their finical teams how they can lower their cost with out putting their data at risk in the cloud with this:


IBM Bundles Spectrum SDS Licenses

January 27, 2016 Leave a comment

IBM changed the way they are going to market with the Spectrum Storage family of software defined storage platform. Since the initial re-branding of their software formerly known as Tivioli, XIV, GPFS, SVC, TPC and LTFS, the plan was to create a portfolio of packages that would aid in protecting and storing data on existing hardware or in the cloud. This lines up with how Big Blue is looking for better margins and cloud ready everything.

These platforms, based on a heritage of IBM products, now are available as a suite where a customer can order the license (per TB) with unlimited usage for all six offerings. The now allows customers to move more rapidly into the SDS environment not have a complex license agreement to manage. All of the Spectrum family is based on a similar look and feel and support is all done through IBM.

Clients will have to license the software only for production capacity. Since all of the software is part of the suite, clients can also test and deploy different items and mix and match as they see fit. If you need 100TB of data protection, this allows you to have 50TB or Spectrum Protect and maybe 50 TB of Spectrum Archive. If you then need to add storage monitoring IE Spectrum Control, then your license count doesn’t start from 0 but at 100TB. If anything has taught me working with IBM, the more you buy of the same thing the cheaper per unit it will be in the end.

For more information on the Spectrum Storage Suite go to the IBM home here:

XIV Real Time Compression Q&A

January 14, 2016 Leave a comment

I had a customer recently upgrade their XIVs to the 11.6.1 code and wanted to know more about the real time compression that is now built into the code. IBM purchased the compression technology from a company named “Storwize” and adopted the name for their mid-range product family. One of the cool things that came out of that acquisition is the RACE engine that runs the compression algorithm.

Basically the compression is your standard LZ compression with some cool technology that keeps meta data about what you are writing. For XIV, this happens before the data is written to cache and turns all of those random writes into a sequential write. If you want to dig into the way RTC works check out this link.

The XIV team took the compression technology and integrated it into the XIV. The GUI even will show you an estimate on which volume will get better compression savings in order to fine tune your workloads. xiv_gui_rtc

Q. How does the compression work? Is it on all the volumes/pools?

A. Compression can turned on if a pool is set to “thin”. This thin pool then can have both thick and thin volumes in it. Once compression is turned on and licensed you can convert any thin volume to a compressed volume by right clicking on it and choosing compress. You can also tell XIV to compress all of your volumes or de-compress all of your volumes.

Q. Can I turn it off and on based on compression savings?

A. Yes, compression can be turned off on the whole box or just one volume. You get to decide based on the compression savings

Q. What size volumes can it handle?

A. The maximum is 10TB and the minimum is 52GB

Q. What kind of performance hit will it have on the XIV?

A. There are some benchmarks in the redbook with turning on compression that can help you decide on compression. Basically it comes down to two things: the workload and the model of XIV. If you look in the Compression Savings field and it is 30% or less then the you should not compress that data. If you have a new 314 model or 214 model compression can be turned on but 114 models need to be checked to make sure there is enough horsepower.

Q. What type of data does not compress well?

A. I get this question a lot. The basic answer is any time of data that has either already been compressed. Also backups seem to have lower compression savings. The better answer is always look at the compression savings in the gui and base conclusion on that output.

Q. Can I compress volumes that are mirrored?

A. Of course. Mirrored volumes can be compressed on both sides. If the mirror already exists then the mirror has to be broken, data compressed and the mirror copy has to be re-synced. We have seen a major performance improvement with compressed mirrored volumes as the amount of data being transferred is cut into half or less.

If you have questions about running compression on XIV or any other IBM platform leave a comment and I will try to answer them here.

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Storage is dead. Long live Storage.

January 8, 2016 1 comment

Storage is a wonderful place to work. It seems like every few months someone or something new is coming out with the latest way to make it easy to store more data for less. There seems like about 100 new startups all begging for money and clients all the while trying to build new code bases to fix issues solved by the Big 5 years ago.

The 5 big five of course being IBM, EMC, NTAP, HP and HDS in some sort of order. These companies have spent Billions of dollars researching and engineering ways to store the simple bits of our 1s and 0s. Now in the new age we see these companies struggling for sales and even the market share leader of ~45% is being sold to a PC company because its not making the money it did a few years ago.

If you look at what is happening in the storage industry you can see why. Price per TB is rock bottom thanks to our buddies at Amazon and Google. IT Directors expect these cloud prices of pennies on the TBs in order to keep up with the demand on budgets. Just think 30 years ago gas cost $1.09 and a GB of data cost you $105,000. Now gas is around $2.00 and a GB of data? Well let’s just say it is around $0.03. What other commodity has fallen so quickly as data storage?

Another reason is efficiency. Storage has gotten better at making better use of the disks and better space savings all together. You can see it in the technologies like XIV and VSAN where the disks are dumb and the RAID is software. Also through in Dedupe, compression, clones, etc. and now the system that you bought for 100TBs a couple years ago is compared to a system with the same hardware (drive sizes anyway) that can push 300-500TBs of capacity. So that $100,000 storage array that was pushing 100TB is now the same cost for 500TBs.

And the last reason I see causing companies to squirm is Software Defined Infrastructure. Companies buy what hardware they want and then lay down their preferred software on top to manage and protect their data. And since its a heck of a lot easier to start a software company where you don’t have to worry about all of those pesky firmware versions and interop-ability matrix things, they are sprouting up like dandelions.

Now put it all together, lower cost /TB, better efficiency, and more software sales reps will lead to lower sales and lower potential. There is only one way out. Those who can put all of this together.

I have heard over and over that everyone wants to move out of hardware and move to cloud based or hybrid cloud. I see the value in cloud and I believe it has a place in the data center but for the most part I see it as a low cost storage platform where data is hosted for non mission critical applications. You want to run you email or CRM system there? sure go for it. You want to run distribution system or your surgical system out there when Netflix and Chill is happening? Probably not.

So to the Big 5 as a 2016 word of advice, embrace your hardware. It makes you different. It gives you a chance to walk into customers and give them a choice. Don’t fall for the flashy object of cloud (honestly the margins can’t be that good). Spend time developing integration into applications so things can work better together. Spend time reaching out to other companies and seeing how you can integrate their technologies into your own with out having to acquire them.

In the long run, people are going to make the best choice for their company and one shoe doesn’t fit all. The more you can offer and the better the offerings are, the better the customer will feel about your company. And who knows they might take a look at something else you sell down the road.

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XIV Soft limit can be adjusted by customer

August 18, 2015 Leave a comment

It appears IBM has removed the requirement for XIV systems running 11.6 that need to over provision beyond what the box is provide. Before 11.6 a XIV customer had to ask a Technical Advisor (TA) to submit a RPQ and then they would dial into the system to change the total amount of storage that could be provisioned. This was normally done because of thin provisioning but now even more so becuase of compression on XIV. 

Here is the information I see in the release notes:

XIV 11.6 Command Reference: system_soft_capacity_set soft_size=SizeGB

This command is used to set the size of the system soft capacity. The soft capacity size of the system can be set to up to 3 times the size of the hard capacity of the system, and as low as the maximum size between the currently allocated soft capacity and the system’s hard capacity (whichever is greater). The current hard, soft, and/or allocated soft capacity can be retrieved using the system_capacity_list command.

I still would advise any customers wishing to change the soft capacity to speak with either a TA or a support person. 

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IBM Storage Sessions at Interconnnect

February 19, 2015 Leave a comment

If you are attending the IBM Inetconnect conference there is a TON of storage related sessions.  Here is the link to the main page where you can find out all the information about general sessions and the Aerosmith concert.

To build your agenda you can go to the portal here: IBM Interconnect Portal

There you will see all sorts of information about the conference and you can sign up for sessions ahead of time. You can look at certain ‘tracks’ for different types of sessions or you can search for them based on the date/time or session topic.  If you are interested in a storage related topic I have listed them below. Do notice that these sessions are at Mandalay Bay.

If you see me in the halls feel free to introduce yourself and I will buy you a coffee/beverage of choice.

Session Number Session Name Date Time Location
5987 Storage and Data Protection Track Kickoff Monday, February 23, 2015 11-12 pm Mandalay Bay Ballroom A
6171 IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Enterprise Resource Planning Protecting SAP HANA Monday, February 23, 2015   12-12.50 pm Mandalay Bay-Meet the Experts Forum #3
1037 Tivoli Storage Productivity Center: A Field-Level Guide for Deployment or Upgrading Monday, February 23, 2015 12.15-1.15 pm Mandalay Bay Breakers I
3780 Data Management in the Cloud Monday, February 23, 2015     2-3 pm Mandalay Bay Breakers I
3363 The Secret to Building a Successful Enterprise Storage Infrastructure for Cloud Monday, February 23, 2015 12.15-1.15 pm Mandalay Bay-Breakers J
3959 IBM Data Protection Roadmap Monday, February 23, 2015 5-6 pm Mandalay Bay Ballroom A
3620 IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments 7.1.1 VMware Lab Monday, February 23, 2015 3.30 -6.30 pm MB South Seas G
3809 Gain Insights and Efficiency by Managing Elastic Storage with IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center Tuesday, February 24, 2015 8-9 am Mandalay Bay-Breakers I
3861 Learn How to Detect and Avoid Problems in Your Storage Environment Tuesday, February 24, 2015 9.30-10.30 am Mandalay Bay-Breakers I
4001 Simplify Storage Management with Tivoli Storage Productivity Center Tuesday, February 24, 2015 11-12 pm Mandalay Bay-Breakers I
3921 IBM’s Software Defined Storage Vision and Strategy Tuesday, February 24, 2015 2-3 pm Mandalay Bay Ballroom A
2257 How Using IBM Virtual Storage Center Simplifies Life and Cuts Costs for Verint Systems Tuesday, February 24, 2015 3.30-4.30 pm Mandalay Bay-Breakers I
3878 SAP HANA Data Protection Capabilities and Best Practices Tuesday, February 24, 2015 11-12 pm Mandalay Bay  Breakers J
3627 IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center 5.2 Daily Operations and Provisioning Tuesday, February 24, 2015 8-10 am MB South Seas G
1665 TSM 101: Tivoli Storage Manager Spelled Out Tuesday, February 24, 2015 10-10.50 am MTE/Engagement Center
6051 Blueprints Aren’t Just for Houses Tuesday, February 24, 2015 11-11.50 am Mandalay Bay-Meet the Experts Forum #3
1462 Elastic Storage: Software Defined Storage for Cloud, Big Data/Analytics and Technical Computing Tuesday, February 24, 2015 2-3 pm Mandalay Bay  Breakers I
4973 BYOC—Bring Your Own Challenge—to the Storage Software Portfolio Experts Tuesday, February 24, 2015 12.30-1.30 pm Mandalay Bay Mandalay Ballroom A
5196 Evolving from Traditional Storage and Backup to an Optimized, State-of-the-Art Solution Tuesday, February 24, 2015 12.30-1.30 PM Mandalay Bay  Breakers J
6635 Next-Generation Data Protection, Reporting, Monitoring and Alerting for Heterogeneous Environments Tuesday, February 24, 2015 5.30-6.30 PM Mandalay Bay  Breakers I
1295 Optimize Your Storage with IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center Advanced Analytics Wednesday, February 25, 2015 1-2 pm MTE/Engagement Center
3588 Advance Your Business with IBM’s Software Defined Storage Offerings Wednesday, February 25, 2015 2-3 PM Mandalay Bay Breakers I
5109 Protecting Data in Hybrid Cloud Environments Wednesday, February 25, 2015 8-9 am Mandalay Bay Ballroom A
5606 Affordable Data Protection for SMBs Wednesday, February 25, 2015 11-12 pm Mandalay Bay  Breakers J
5519 Capital City Bank: Winning with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Cloud Solutions for the Mid-Market Wednesday, February 25, 2015 3.30-4.30 pm Mandalay Bay-Breakers J
3672 Storage Infrastructure Matters for the Cloud Thursday, February 26, 2015 9-10 am Mandalay Bay-Breakers I
4791 Data Protection in Virtual Server Environments: One Size Does Not Fit All Thursday, February 26, 2015 10.30-11.30 am Mandalay Bay  Breakers I
4394 Explore the Benefits of Three Future Tivoli Storage Manager Capabilities Thursday, February 26, 2015 9-10 am Mandalay Bay Ballroom A
3623 Tivoli Storage Manager 7.1.1 Node Replication Thursday, February 26, 2015 8-10 am Mandalay Bay  South Seas A
3629 IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center 5.2 Reporting Thursday, February 26, 2015 8-10 am Mandalay Bay  South Seas J
2132 Tivoli Storage Manager 7 in a Large-Scale Linux Environment at State Farm Insurance Thursday, February 26, 2015 9-10 am Mandalay Bay  Breakers J
5224 Elastic Storage in the Cloud Thursday, February 26, 2015 1-2 pm Mandalay Bay  Breakers I
5025 Large-Scale Migration from Symantec NetBackup to Tivoli Storage Manager at Portugal’s Largest Bank Thursday, February 26, 2015 10.30-11.30 am Mandalay Bay  Breakers J
Categories: Uncategorized

Introducing IBM Spectrum Storage – Inside Perspective

February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Good Blog article by fellow IBMer Ron Riff:

Every once in a long while there are discoveries that, well, change everything. Stuff like discovering the earth isn’t flat, it’s round. People talked about that possibility for centuries but it wasn’t until a Ferdinand Magellan expedition stepped out and circumnavigated the globe that everything changed. In some ways, today’s announcement of IBM® Spectrum Storage™  has done the same thing for the idea of software defined storage.

Introducing IBM Spectrum Storage – Inside Perspective.

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