Yesterday the Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for the nation to move as fast as possible away from printed textbooks and toward digital ones. “Over the next few years, textbooks should be obsolete” he claimed. Apparently the Secretary who has never taught a child in his life has seen how other countries like South Korea have moved to a digital text instead of traditional books. While I do not disagree that digital readers are becoming more of the norm and even my son is really into reading books on the tablet, I don’t understand why children who don’t like to read now will become avid readers because its on a screen vs a paper text.
I think the other issue is money. Most states are now trying to keep the roof from leaking and feeding kids who don’t get enough to eat at home. I struggle to comprehend the ability of each state to provide millions of students with some type of e-reader and carry the insurance needed to repair/replace the devices when kids spill, drop, break those devices.
From a storage sales standpoint would I love if each school system had their own copies of the 100 page Algebra II book I had to carry around in my backpack on a IBM storage array. Maybe there is a market for some startup to create a reader that is cost effective, reliable, easy to maintain and kept up to date. You could have sheet music on it, supplemental videos and help for kids that may need that extra help when mom and dad can’t be bothered.
I guess when you look at the overall idea of helping kids learn more with better tools then why not use technology? But I dont think we are going to improve our test scores by having kids learn from ipads. We still have to get kids to want to learn and it starts at home with the parents and at school with teachers.
Right off the top, I don’t usually like promoting things with an “i” in front of the name but I have seen a little glimmer of light. This year IBM released an application (app) for monitoring and administrating the XiV system from an iPad. I quickly dismissed it as something that is nice to have but not a necessity.
But the more I thought about how the XiV system is designed to have an easy to use interface and one of the selling points of all of the Apple products is the ease of use, I can see why people would want an app like this. This generation of engineers/administrators are always looking for the cool part of the box. This allows them to be a little less attached to their laptop or cubicle so when someone asks for LUN or a status report on the performance they can pull that information up while sitting in the coffee shop.
The app can be run in production mode or a demo mode which also helps us IBMers showing it to other clients. The Demo mode allows you to see how the app works with out connecting to a real XiV. Pretty cool.
After securely logging into a real XiV system you can see performance of the system from both the volume and host perceptive. By swiping the screen (like turning a page) you can go back and forth the screens. Here are a couple of screens shots of what you would see on your iPad.
The only two things I have asked the XiV software team is how can use this to create an app that will also monitor SVC/V7000U/DS8000 as they all have the same interface. The second is to port this over for Android so I can run it from my droid tablet!
As is customary for many bloggers at the end of the year we take time to reflect on the past year and make some predictions for next year. This is always fun because I get a chance to see what people predicted for this year and who was right / wrong. Some people are more right than wrong but its fun to guess at what will happen next year none the less.
2011 was a great year for storage and IT as a whole. A couple of highlights I think were important points this year:
- SSD pricing drops significantly to approximately $3 per GB. With the flooding in Thailand, the price for spinning drives went sky high back in October. Since then, the prices have started to decline but not as quickly as the SSDs.
- Tape is still around and is giving people options. There are only a handful of vendors than even like to talk about tape as another storage tier. Those who do have it in the bag of options levered this as something the others can not provide as a full solution.
- Archive and backup were debated, debated again and hopefully the marketing people have learned the difference. I think there are times were backups can be archives but not the other way around. There are people out there that backup their archives but that is a whole blog article to it’s self.
- Mobile apps were plentiful from Fruit Ninja to Facebook to business app like Quick Office flooded the market place. Not only were people developing for the iPad, iPod and iPoop platforms but we saw the rise of the Droid (Google) and Blackberry (RIM) even Windows is now reporting over 50,000 apps available for downloads.
- Clouds got a little more defined and people are starting to see the benefits of having the right ‘cloud’ for the right job. This time year the future of clouds was a little cloudier than what we see them as today. The funny thing I believe most people realized this year was we have been clouding in IT for a long time just under different names.
- Social media was the biggest part of IT in 2011 in my opinion. I saw a fundamental shift in how people got information and how that influenced their decisions. From CEOs blogging to Charlie Sheen going up in flames on Twitter, the warlocks and trolls out there were craving something more. Social media is the new dot com era and now we wait for the bubble to burst.
Now for the good part. Here is what I think 2012 will bring to the IT / Storage world. Note: If any of these do or don’t come true I will deny any involvement.
- Big Data moves into full swing. If you think you heard a lot of people talking about Big Data in 2011 then prepare yourselves for the avalanche of bloggers, researchers, analysts, marketers, sales people, you name it to bombard you with not just what Big Data is but what to do with it. I suspect technologies like Hadoop and Analytics will drive products more than typical structured data storage.
- Protection of remote data on mobile devices like tablets and phones will be a bigger concern. With the rise of these devices people have started to move from the traditional desktop or even laptop. There is already an uptick on the number of viruses in the wild that are designed for mobile users. As more data is generated and stored on them the higher the risk companies face in loosing data. I predict companies will either rely on public clouds like Amazon S3 or Dropbox to help protect from data loss or even go private and force users to back their data to a central repository.
- Software will continue to drive innovation over hardware. Virtualization was a big part of 2011 and that will only continue to grow bigger in the datacenter. Storage systems for the most part are made up of the same parts from the same suppliers. It’s the software that is put to use that drives the efficiency, performance and utilization of the hardware. Those storage vendors who can get out of the hardware speeds and features will show you how their solution solves the problems of today. There are still some customers who want to know how many 15K RPM drives are in the solution. I think there will always be gear-heads who want to know these things, but they are getting fewer.
- Scale out grid clustering with global name space will dominate the new dynamic of how to deploy units. Netapp should be releasing the long anticipated Cluster Mode of Data Ontap sometime in 2012. I hear not everyone will be getting carte blanche on the download so be ready to be told its still not prime time. Even though it took Netapp nine years to get a real product in the market for general consumption. Other vendors like EMC, IBM and HP will all be touting their own version of scale out / grid / you name it as the best way to drive up the efficiency number. Do your research and make sure to compare apples to apples. Just because they all say the same thing doesn’t mean its done the same way.
- Tiering will be on everyone’s mind. Even with the price of SSDs coming down they still are a bit pricey for a SSD only solution. Companies like Violin Memory or Fusion IO will help keep I/O up at the server instead of hitting the storage system. Automatic file based tiering like that of the Active Cloud Engine from IBM will determine from policies where data needs to be written and moved down the $/GB slope as it ages. IBM also has a great automatic tiering solution called Easy Tier that is on the DS8000, SVC and the V7000 takes the guess work out of when to put data on faster disks.
- Consolidation of smaller systems with fewer islands of storage will be a key initiative in 2012. As the economy flat lines on the global operating table IT budgets will be looking for ways to cut line items out of the cost of running the shop. This is a continuance from 2011 but with the push of ‘Big Data’ companies will be asked to take on more data demand with the same budget as last year. As customers pool their resources together to meet these demands they will pool their storage platforms together for better utilization. Look for data migration tools like SVC from IBM to help make these transitions easier.
Finally, I send you the best for a new year full of exciting challenges. Happy New Year!