A Recap of the Storage Meet the Developers Session from IBM Edge


Discussions are a highlight of the IBM Edge show

What is a Storage Free for All?  That was the question many IBM Edge Attendees stopped by the Social Media Lounge  Thursday in the late afternoon to ask me.   On Twitter some were speculating that it would be a “storage throwdown.”  I had to look at the conference agenda to see that there reallly was such a session on the agenda.    So what’s a Storage Free for All?  It turned out to be an opportunity for IBM Edge attendees to bring their questions about IBM products forward to a team of IBM developers and exports. The Q&A panel across all storage topics was moderated by Scott Drummond. . Here are the questions and the panel responses during the session.   This session was extremely popular with attendees and a chance for IBM to talk honestly with customers about their concerns.   Despite the late hour, here’s a transcript of session topics and questions captured with help from  IBM Super Star storage blogger Tony Pearson.

When will IBM unify their storage management between Mainframe z/OS and the distributed systems platforms?

IBM offers a Change and Configuration Management Data Base (CCMDB) for this purpose with appropriate collectors from z/OS and distributed systems, but hasn’t sold well.

When will IBM devices have RESTful interfaces?

Both IBM Systems Director and IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC) offer RESTful APIs. IBM Systems Director can manage z/VM and Linux on System z, as well as Power Systems and x86 based distributed systems. Since October 2008, IBM’s Project Zero introduced RESTful interfaces to PHP and Groovy software running on WebSphere sMash environments. We have not heard much about this since 2008.

Will IBM TPC support NPIV on Power Systems?

TPC 5.1 has support for this, and we expect to retrofit to feature with TPC 4.2.2 Fixpack 2.

We would like TPC for Replication to run on Linux for System z. We do not run z/OS at the disaster recovery site location.

Submit an IBM Request for Enhancement [RFE] for this. We have TPC for Replication on z/OS, as well as the distributed systems version that runs on Windows, Linux and AIX.

We have enhancements we would like to see for XIV and SONAS also, can we use the RFE process for this also?

Yes, submit the requirements for our review.

We heard the Statement of Direction that there would be storage integrated into the PureSystems. What exactly does that mean?

The PureSystems family of expert-integrated systems is based on a new chassis that has a front part, a midplane, and a back-part. All IBM System Storage products that support x86 and Power Systems can work with PureSystems. However, IBM does not yet offer storage that fits in the front part of the PureFlex chassis, but the Statement of Direction indicates that we intend to offer that option. Until then, the IBM Storwize V7000 is the storage of choice that can be put into the PureSystems rack, but outside the individual chasses.

We see some features like Real-Time Compression being put into the SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and other features put into the back-end devices. How are we supposed to make sense of this?

IBM’s new pilot program, the SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center, to bring these all together. In general, we have design teams of system architects that determine which features go in which products, and prioritize accordingly.

We heard the IBM Executives during the opening session indicate that IBM’s strategy involves supporting Big Data, but I haven’t seen any storage that supports native Hadoop interfaces. Did I miss something?

First, I want to emphasize that Big Data is more than just MapReduce workloads. IBM offers Streams and BigInsights software to handle text, as well as Business Intelligence and Data Warehouse solutions for structured data. IBM’s General Parallel File System (GPFS) has a Shared-Nothing-Cluster (SNC) mode with Hadoop interfaces that runs twice as fast as Hadoop’s native HDFS file system. The storage products we recommend for Big Data are the SONAS and the DCS3700 disk systems, as both are optimized for the sequential workloads Big Data represents.

Everytime we upgrade our SVC, we review the list for SDDPCM multi-pathing and see that we need to upgrade our back-end DS8000 microcode up to recommended levels. Can we get a list of combinations that work from other customers?

The advantage of storage hypervisors like SVC is that we can separate the multi-pathing driver from the back-end managed disk systems. You only need the SDDPCM to support the SVC, not the back-end devices. For the most part, SVC has not dropped support for any level of previously supported OS or multi-pathing software.

On SVC, when we migrate volumes (vDisks) from one storage pool to another, we would like to throttle this process during FlashCopy.

Yes, we had several requests like this, which is why we now recommend using Volume Mirorring to perform migrations. In fact the GUI wizard uses Volume Mirroring by default when migrations are performed. As for throttling, IBM has implemented “I/O Priority Manager” that offers Quality of Service classes for DS8000 and XIV Gen3, and might consider porting this to other products in our portfolio.

Sizing systems is an art. I just need to know if the DS8000 is running hot. Can we have the equivalent of “red lines” for our disk systems similar to automobile engines?

Storage Optimizer was added to TPC 4.2 to help in this area, identifying heat-maps for IBM DS8000, DS6000, DS5000, DS4000, SVC and Storwize V7000. We recommend you look at the performance violation reports.

How can we evaluate the characteristics of our workloads?

Yes, TPC can do this.

When we are replacing non-IBM storage with IBM, we don’t have good tools to evaluate the non-IBM equipment. What is IBM doing for this?

IBM’s Disk Magic modeling tool can take inputs from a variety of sources, including iostat from the servers themselves. You can also install a 90-day trial of TPC to help with this.

We really like EMC’s “Grab” program, does IBM have one also?

Yes, IBM has one also.

Updating the Host Attachment Kit (HAK) for AIX is quite painful for the SVC. We prefer the method employed for the XIV.

Thanks for the feedback.

For SVC, we need to correlate disk with VMware and VIOS. Can we get vSCSI information on VIOS?

TPC 5.1 has this support, and we believe it has been retrofitted to TPC 4.2.2 Fixpack 2, coming out this month.

Currently, with SVC, when volumes are part of a Global Mirror (GM) session, we need to cancel GM, expand the source volume, expand the target volume, then restart GM. We would like this to be fully automated and non-disruptive.

Sounds like a great requirement to submit for the RFE process.

Can we get an RSS Feed for the RFE community.

Yes, you can subscribe to it. You can also set up “Watch Lists”.

Thanks to all of the IBM experts on the panel for their participation at this event!

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