What happened to the Storage Industry!!

April 1st, 2010 2 comments

I just woke up……to find a total disarray in the storage industry. Things have changed but what changed, why did it change.  Nothing matches up to my last remembrance.

Did you know….

Chuck Hollis doesn’t work for EMC and is now blogging for TechTarget, his blogs are still so futuristic about the mainframe world and how it will rule the market. Barry Burke on his blog is talking about the benefits of using an iUSPV versus using an iV-Max, and has been named as the top friendliest blogger. Dave Graham is now working for as the chief editor and has taken over the world by his blogs about the next generation AMD processors.

Storagezilla has now become lonely social media voice at EMC, though these days he talks a lot about how to integrate storage platforms with mobile devices. Stu Miniman still blogs occasionally on his blog but has gone to Chair the FCoE Standards committee and now hates social media. Ed Saipetch decided to turn to industry speaking and is amongst one of the leading speaker for Environment Protection.

Chad Sakac decided it was enough with VCE, vArmy, Private Cloud and these days is working hard to built the next generation weapons systems for the Army, though not everyone within the Army is so excited, Chad with his partnerships is bringing some big momentum. Steve Todd finally decided to get into management and left his long legacy with DG, XAM and programming and now doing something…..that he doesn’t want to understand.  Christopher Kusek (CXI) decided to move out of EMC and is now an activist against animal killing….

Wow… for a change….

Vaughn Stewart like Kostadis decided to move out of the Storage – Virtualization industry and these days they work together at a furniture startup. To my surprise, Val Bercovici now works with Chad in his advanced weapons systems design. After the great acquisition of NetApp, Dave Hitz has now moved over to 3Par and is helping build the next storage platform. After all, Alex McDonald decided to move to HP and now works along with Calvin Zito on competitive landscape.

Hu Yoshida decides to quit blogging and these days work along with Barry Burke and Barry Whyte and often talk about the iUSPV platform and how it may change the way we do mobile computing. All the 3 of them are working on designing the next genration platform called the iV-U-S. Claus Mikkelsen still occasionally writes about VM’s and LPar’s on mainframes and still considers HDS platform as the most monolithic architecture, just publically doesn’t accept it.  David Merrill now gave up on the whole idea of Storage Economics and is typically telling customers, always buy more storage for your future needs, TCO, ROI, ROA are not good examples and measures for Storage acquisition.

Marc Farley and Greg Knieriemen started Infosmack Productions and now run a very successful media business (talk shows, comedy, podcast – all storage / virtualization related) competing with the biggest media houses. You can call Marc and Greg at 1-800-INFOSMAC to appear on their podcast.  Stephen Foskett is now an end user managing 10 PB’s of Storage and turned into the biggest critic of storage and virtualization vendors. Every chance he gets he manages to beat up the vendors. Pretty apparent from his blogs, he hates everyone now…

As consolidation hits everywhere and doesn’t spare Storage Monkeys, Wikibon, Backup Central, The Register and GestaltIT, which are today called as and The storage analyst are no more just storage analyst and typically use a “i” in front of their twitter handles, website addresses and company names, showing an integration between storage and “i” products from Apple.

Many Vmware focused bloggers like Duncan Epping, Eric Siebert, Rodney Haywood, Simon Seagrave, Rich Brambley and Daniel Eason now have a big section on their blogs about HyperV, Xen, Amazon S3 and Azure. Scott Lowe’s focus has turned to Cisco and now he writes books on the next generation virtualization engine by Cisco. Marc Farley on the StorageRap blog decides to quit making those Steering Wheel Camera and Check it out videos, but continues to make 3par storage videos while hunting bears.

Storagebod now works for EMC, he has lately become “The Seller of Dreams”. Storage Architect – Chris Evans decided he had enough with the Storage Industry and now works and blogs fulltime for the Wine Industry. Jon Toigo now works at his startup called Toigo Partners on his first project called FunnyToigo designing his first disk array called the OptimizedToigo. Nigel Poulton permanently quits blogging and now works at a Networking startup with Greg Ferro as his boss. GrumpyStorage had enough with the storage industry and now calls himself GrumpyCloud.

Just realized either I am still in my dreams or today is the 1st of April… remember this is a light hearted peak into the storage industry. Which one of these is your favorite….

HP StorageWorks Tech Day 2010

March 25th, 2010 4 comments

After a successful event last year, HP again invites a group of bloggers for a round of Storage deep dive. HP has managed to pull some successful events organized specially for the Social Media folks over the past 6 months and include the #hptechday (HP StorageWorks Day), #hpbladesday (HP Blades and Software Infrastructure Day) and #hpanalystday (HP Analyst Day) which was hosted couple of weeks ago. HP is totally leveraging and pushing the social media engine for educating and creating a buzz around HP products and seems its working in there favor so far.


This will be my 3rd visit to HP in 6 months, which includes the prior #hptechday and #hpbladesday. This is an invite only session targeted for “independent bloggers”. Most of the bloggers invited are end users, partners or consultants.


The HP StorageWorks Day 2010, #hpstorageday is being hosted in Houston, TX on the 29th and 30th of March, 2010. The primary focus of this event is HP’s StorageWorks products. Typically in these events, we get a deep dive into products, key presentations from marketing execs and product teams, access to engineering and product designers / architectures and hands on lab/demo of the equipment.


This is a non-NDA event, which makes it lucrative to attend and will hopefully give a vision into HP StorageWorks and Convergence roadmap.

The twitter hashtag for this event is #hpstorageday


Some agenda as discussed on HP Storage Block Blog by Calvin Zito include

  • Key presentation by HP Executives
  • Presentation on Convergence Infrastructure
  • Presentations on StorageWorks products
  • Lab and Demos
  • Storage networking discussions
  • Storage management (SRM) discussions
  • Tour of HP labs and manufacturing facilities in Houston, including the POD (Performance Optimized Datacenter) tour.


Here are the folks that will be attending the event (in random order)


Over the past couple of years, HP has emerged to be one of the leading players in the storage industry. The so-called “acquisition” of Dave Donatelli from EMC has excelled HP’s movement in the converged infrastructure space along with some robust integration between its storage, networking and server platforms. Dave heads ESSN (Enterprise Server Storage Networking) Division within HP.


The acquisition of both IBRIX and Lefthand has helped HP position itself very well in the storage and convergence space. The latest acquisition of 3Com will hopefully combine along with its current offering in the networking space and help further integrate its convergence strategy. There was a good post by Dave Vellante of Wikibon on My HP V8 Moment after he attended the #hpanalystday


Well it all starts on the 29th of March, 2010 – Monday and Tuesday, stay tuned on Twitter for hashtag #hpstorageday

Again thanks to the IVY Worldwide team, Becca Taylor and Calvin Zito from HP for the invite to the event.

And thanks for reading this blog, appreciate all your comments, views, feedback and RT’s!!!


Storage optimization, a pipe dream

March 25th, 2010 3 comments


Posts like these make me think how easy is it for people to make claims for something that they have no idea about. What I mean “something” is “storage in a customers environment”. Practically these are some very easy means to make money in the storage industry today. “Life is good” one walks into a customer without knowing their environment, applications, users, databases and blindly tell them that we can help you reclaim 70% of all your storage. Let us evaluate your environment, have our engineers come in perform a storage assessment, be resident here for a while, bill for the work to reclaim and redeploy the storage and yea help you buy the brand of storage we prefer for our customers.

We all know how optimized, well managed and efficient our storage environments are and why are they architected they way they are in your organization. If customers run a 60% utilized environment it means 40% of the storage is un-utilized but not necessarily reclaimable and re-deployable.

Picture Source: UPENN.EDU

The issues

Largely storage environments are heavily dependant upon the architecture, IOPS requirements, databases, vm’s, applications and many other variable factors that drive its performance.

Storage architectures in an organization typically encompass provision for growth of the existing file systems, databases and future requirements.

In between this growth, resource allocation, resource shifts and retirement of older host systems, there are usually holes that get created, which makes certain portions of this storage orphaned or reclaimable.

Storage Archiving to cheaper disk and tape is not always a practice in organizations, which can lead to off loading some of the structured and unstructured data from these systems.

Storage groups typically have a high turnover rate of employees, which creates a hole as someone new is being introduced to the environment and may need a ramp up time to understand the environment, applications and user needs.

Storage groups at time do not have written policies, procedures and guidelines on what and how the storage should be reclaimed for future use. Typically a lack of data management practices are also seen with related to moving the data to cheaper storage based on policies and lifecycle management.
Application, database and performance requirements are consistently growing, which makes purchasing new storage inevitable for newer applications. While the old apps and databases are still running, cost of migrating from the old systems to new ones cause additional budgeting issues.

There is a misconception that storage reclaimation is easy to achieve. 70% of your storage can be reclaimed and redeployed today.


Storage Management

Lack of defined processes, procedures, oversight, change control management, application needs, database demands, etc add more complexity to storage management environments making reclaimation a much harder task.

Lack of implementation of SRM (Storage Resource Management) tools in the environments adds another layer of complexity with storage management. Storage admins and managers typically true up monthly reports related to storage environments on excel spreadsheets.

Implementation of native features within storage should absolutely be considered before purchasing and deploying any new storage. Features like data deduplication, thin provisioning, automated tiering, zero page reclaim, vmware aware storage (api’s) and use of automated ILM policies.

Define, Define, Define……..all your process, procedures, exceptions….etc..

Yea and want to throw this out too…  Personally ran into one organization so far, where the storage manager was compensated (bonuses) based on the total reclaimed storage per year.


Political issues

The steepest battle with any storage optimization project is internal political issues within the organization.

Working at multiple levels either the C level or IT management level imposes additional challenges…

At times the management is possibly open to ideas around storage optimization exercises to reclaim the so-called 70% of all the reclaimable storage. But as this idea flows down to the local storage teams, its either killed or delayed because of political issues.

Going from the storage teams upwards causes similar issue with application teams, database teams, architects and then the money spenders or the C level executives.

“Did one think it was easy, when they walked in…”


The after effects

What are some of the effects of reclaiming 70% of storage in an organization…just a few I can highlight here.

  • Large changes will be implemented in organizations at a Storage management level along with replacing key executives that made a decision to purchase all this storage..
  • For many years to come that organization will not purchase storage, essentially use the existing “old” storage they have sitting on the floor.
  • New Applications may still end up using older storage platforms creating storage management & performance issues.
  • Customer may not be able to use latest technologies like Automated Tiering, Deduplication, Thin Provisioning, Zero Page reclaim, Power down disk, energy efficiency and many more.
  • The larger problem it creates is the use of the storage on the floor for more than 3 / 5 years, where they start paying for hefty hardware and software maintenance charges beyond warranty.
  • The company, the person that sold you storage assessment, storage reclaimation and storage redeployment will be in there to pitch you new storage products from a XYZ company…


  • If every customer in the world reclaims about 70% of all the storage, I will leave the question upto you as to what will happen to the storage industry…. let the critics answer it…


The Journey

So anyone that comes and tells you that we will do a Storage Optimization for you today, have the results tomorrow and reclaim 70% of all your storage,………….….its nothing more than the “title of this post”.

As I like to call it, “It’s a Journey” to make your storage environment fully efficient, optimized and “beat the sh*t out of it”…..

It’s the process where the customer needs to be educated at every level within the organization by helping them create a “storage economics” practice that would enable them to achieve the right results..

Again its about establishing practices, policies, procedures, guidelines, tools, showing the importance at all levels and the biggest creating the awareness about it…

The shortest 5 rules to begin this journey….

  • Storage rule 1#: Buy what you need, use what you buy
  • Storage rule 2#: Define and follow your practices, policies and procedures.
  • Storage rule 3#: Establish an on going storage economics practice in your organization
  • Storage rule 4#: Use robust SRM tools to manage your storage environment.
  • Storage rule 5#: Centralize storage management, resource, infrastructure


It’s a journey….or it turns into a pipe dream….

EMC Symmetrix: VCMDB and ACLX

March 23rd, 2010 5 comments

VCMDB: Volume Control Manager Database

ACLX: Access Control Logix

VCM: Volume Control Manager device (where the database resides)

VCM Gatekeeper: Volume Control Manager Gatekeeper (database doesn’t reside on these devices)

SFS Volumes: Symmetrix File System Volumes


If you work with EMC Symmetrix systems, you know the importance of VCMDB. Introduced with Symmetrix 4.0 and used in every generation after that, VCMDB stands for Volume Control Manager Database). Also in the latest generation of systems the VCM device is at times also referenced as VCM Gatekeeper.

VCMDB is a relatively small device that is created on the Symmetrix system that allows for hosts access to various devices on the Symmetrix. VCMDB keeps an inventory of which devices have access to which host (HBA’s). Without a VCMDB in place, host systems will not be able to access the Symmetrix. The VCMDB should be backed up on regular intervals and would be helpful in a rainy day.

The VCMDB device size grew along with new generations of Symmetrix systems that got introduced, primarily a means to keep a track of more supported devices (hypers / splits) on these platforms. With the introduction of Symmetrix V-Max, the VCMDB concept is now a bit changed to ACLX (Access Control Logix). Access Logix is being used on the Clariion systems for years now.


Here are a few things to consider with VCMDB

  • On the older Symmetrix systems (4.0, 4.8, 5.0 and 5.5), the VCMDB (device) is mapped to all the channels, host
  • In these systems the VCMDB access is typically restricted by Volume Logix or ACL (access control lists)
  • With the Symmetrix DMX, DMX2 Systems – Enginuity Code 5670, 5671 the VCM device only requires to be mapped to the Management stations
  • Management stations include SYMCLI Server / Ionix Control Center Server / Symmetrix Management Console
  • At all given times on the DMX, DMX2 platforms, the VCMDB would need to be mapped to at least one station to perform online SDDR changes. Alternatively this problem of not having device mapped to at least one host can also be fixed by the PSE lab
  • Mapping VCMDB to multiple hosts, channels may make the device venerable to crashes, potential tampering, device attributes and data change
  • You can write disable VCMDB to avoid the potential of the above
  • With these systems, the host can communicate to the VCMDB via Syscalls
  • The VCM Edit Director Flag (fibrepath) needs to be enabled for management stations to see VCM device
  • The database (device masking database) of the VCMDB resides on the SFS volumes. This feature was introduced with DMX-3 / DMX-4 (5772 version of microcode). A 6 cylinder VCM Gatekeeper device is okay to use with these versions of microcode.
  • Starting Symmetrix V-Max systems, the concept of ACLX was introducted for Auto Provisioning etc.
  • VCM volumes are required to be mirrored devices like SFS volumes


Various different types of VCMDB

Type 0, Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, Type 4, Type 5, Type 6

  • Type 0: Symmetrix 4.0, 32 Director System, 16 cylinder device size, Volume Logix 2.x
  • Type 1: Symmetrix 4.8, 64 Director System, 16 cylinder device size, ESN Manager 1.x
  • Type 2: Symmetrix 5.0/5.5, 64 Director System, 16 cylinder device size, ESN Manager 2.x
  • Type 3: Symmetrix DMX, supports 32 fibre/ 32 iSCSI initiator records per port, 24 cylinder device in size. Enginuity 5569, Solutions Enabler 5.2, Support 8000 devices
  • Type 4: Symmetrix DMX/DMX-2, supports 64 fibre/ 128 iSCSI initiator records per port, 48 cylinder device in size. Enginuity 5670, Solutions Enabler 5.3, Supports 8000 devices
  • Type 5: Symmetrix DMX/DMX-2, supports 64 fibre / 128 iSCSI initiator records per port, 96 cylinder device in size, Enginuity 5671, Solutions Enabler 6.0, Supports 16000 devices
  • Type 6: Symmetrix DMX-3, DMX-4, supports 256 fibre / 512 iSCSI initiator records per port, 96 cylinder device in size, Enginuity 5771, 5772 Solutions Enabler 6.0, Supports 64000 devices


Notes about various Types of VCMDB

  • Type 3 of VCMDB can be converted to Type 4 VCMDB (code upgrade from 5669 to 5670 to 5671)
  • Solutions enabler 5.2 and Solutions Enabler 5.3 can read/write Type 3 VCMDB
  • Solutions enabler 5.3 can read/write Type 4 VCMDB
  • VCMDB device is recommended to be a certain size, but it is okay to use a larger size device if no choices are available.


Converting various types of VCMDB using SymCLI

  • If the device cylinder size is equal with a conversion you are attempting, the following will help you convert your VCMDB from type x to type y.
    • Backup the device
    • symmaskdb –sid <symmid> backup –file backup
    • Check the VCMDB type using
    • symmaskdb – sid <symmid> list database
    • Convert from type 4 to type 5
    • Symmaskdb – sid <symmid> convert –vcmdb_type 5 –file Covertfilename


To initialize VCMDB for the first time on a Symmetrix System

Within Ionix Control Center

  • Click on the Symmetrix array you are trying to initialize the VCMDB
  • Select Masking then VCMDB Management and then initialize
  • Select a new backup and create a file name
  • Create a file name with .sdm extenstion
  • Click on Activate the VCMDB
  • VCMDB backups are stored at \home\ecc_inf\data\hostname\data\backup\symmserial\
  • Also it will be viewable within Ionix Control Center at Systems/Symmetrix/VCMDB Backups/


With SymCLI

  • To query the VCMDB database
    • symmaskdb –sid <symmid> list database
    • To backup and init an existing VCMDB database
      • symmaskdb – sid <symmid> init –file backup

More technical deep dive coming soon on various other topics…including ACLX.