Mark III Systems Blog

Simplifying the IBM Cloud Object Storage API for JavaScript with npm!

 

As many of you are already aware, IBM offers an incredibly unique and ultra-scalable Object Storage platform called IBM Cloud Object Storage (formerly known as Cleversafe), which can be consumed by enterprises and service providers in on-premise, hybrid, or public cloud formats.  IBM Cloud Object Storage has been rated by both IDC and Gartner as a leader in the object storage space (if not THE leader) and upon our first-hand experiences with it from both dev and operations vantage points, it’s easy to see why.

Again, here are the top general use cases for IBM Cloud Object Storage:

  • Content Repository
  • Enterprise Collaboration
  • Archiving
  • Backup
  • Storage-as-a-Service
  • Object Storage for digital applications

 

One of our first internal demo use cases our teams developed on top of IBM Cloud Object Storage was a Video Analytics Autotagging application that uses IBM Watson in order to “see” themes and items in a video, autotag the video with those themes/items, and store both the videos and its tags in Cloud Object Storage (for future retrieval purposes by analytics platforms).  You can read more about the specifics of our demo app in this blog entry.

During the creation of our video app, we wrote a lightweight request wrapper in Node.js (exposed to users and other apps/services via API) that helped us more easily and efficiently access the IBM Cloud Object Storage API, including simplifying the process of accessing Cloud Object Storage via a proxy (if in a hybrid cloud scenario or similar situation).  Here’s a quick rundown of some of the advantages of using this wrapper for your app, if you’re using IBM Cloud Object Storage for object storage:

  • Simplifies the login and authentication procedure for the IBM Cloud Object Storage (Cleversafe) API
  • Enables proxy support for IBM Cloud Object Storage instances behind firewalls
  • Streamlines the insertion of objects into Cloud Object Storage vaults
  • Lists vaults in an IBM Cloud Object Storage instance in JSON format
  • Lists objects inside an IBM Cloud Object Storage vault in JSON format
  • Streamlines the process of deleting of objects inside a Cloud Object Storage vault
  • Streamlines the process of downloading objects from a Cloud Object Storage vault

 

If you’re interested in using our IBM Cloud Object Storage request wrapper (open source), you can take a look on npm for more information (package named npm-cleversafe (naturally)), or directly on GitHub here.

 

npm-cleversafe-1

 

As always, please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions on this wrapper or IBM Cloud Object Storage itself!

 

 

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The NEW IBM FlashSystem A9000/A9000R: Best of ALL worlds!

 

IBM announced a significant expansion of the highly successful FlashSystems portfolio last week, with 3 new all-flash models, including the FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R.

FlashSystem A9000

For the purposes of this blog entry, I’ll focus mostly on the FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R, although the all-flash DS8888 is pretty intriguing by itself.

The FlashSystem A9000 (pod-based) and A9000R (rack-based) are all-flash systems that pull together all the best parts of the IBM Storage portfolio, quite literally giving you the best of all worlds.  I won’t necessarily go into models/speeds/feeds, but I will touch on the parts of the announcement that I think are the most compelling:

  • Extreme Capacity Efficiency:  The A9000/A9000R both feature inline Pattern Removal, Deduplication, and Compression, which basically means that you should get the best data reduction/efficiency ratios in the industry, all without impacting performance.
  • Self-optimzing, self-healing grid architecture:  Much like the XIV and Spectrum Accelerate grid architecture that many clients love, the FlashSystem A9000/A9000R also feature a similar unique grid architecture that eliminates the need for users to tune their workloads and maximizes uptime by minimizing rebuild times.  As additional “pods” (A9000) or racks (A9000R) are added, the architecture automatically self-optimizes without user intervention to maximize performance and utilization.
  • Integration with multiple tech stacks:  Whether you’re looking for VMware, Microsoft, a REST API, or OpenStack, the FlashSystem A9000/A9000R features co-development and integrations to optimize the user experience with existing current application stacks and also position enterprises to operate optimized digital on-premise and hybrid clouds in the future
  • Simple to manage:  Created by IBM Design and backed by 15 patents, the UI/UX experience of the FlashSystem A9000/A9000R is incredibly intuitive and designed to increase the productivity of administrators, while lowering the risk of human error.
  • Hyperscale:  IBM Hyperscale Manager enables a user to manage over 100+ of these systems from one management pane, which is likely more than any of our enterprise or service provider clients will ever need
  • Proven and reliable:  The FlashSystem A9000/A9000R still uses all the proven FlashCore/MicroLatency technology as its predecessors, so we can still count on the very robust reliability of the FlashSystem line in the field.  Also, utilizing the same custom engineered Flash module advantages of the FlashSystem line helps to ensure that the FlashSystem A9000/A9000R will continue to sport flash with the lowest latency in the industry.

 

A9000 UI

 

All in all, we’re incredibly excited to talk to enterprises and service providers about the FlashSystem A9000/A9000R and really do think that it represents a very unique all-flash platform out in the market today, especially for those that are looking for extreme performance and simplicity, all without breaking the bank.  For those looking to move to an all-Flash datacenter strategy, the A9000/A9000R are really solid platforms to serve as the foundation for that strategy for both existing applications and digital cloud infrastructures of the future.  If you’re interested in continuing the conversation or hearing about any of our other perspectives, just let us know!

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IBM Watson & Cleversafe: Video Autotagging Analytics and Object Storage

 

Our BlueChasm development team came up with a pretty interesting prototype app, codenamed “Video Recon,” that combines video analytics via IBM Watson and multiple layers of the IBM digital cloud stack.  More specifically, our video analytics app uses IBM Watson Visual Recognition in IBM Bluemix in order to “look” at video files and automatically tag those video files with what Watson “sees” in the videos.  Watson achieves this through advanced machine learning of images it “sees” and is trainable by the user to improve its accuracy over time.

The uploaded video and its associated tags are then stored in IBM Cleversafe Object Storage (located on-premises in our lab at Mark III) for further analysis and retrieval in the future by both current analytics platforms that we have and those that we have not yet thought to use.  The tags generated by Watson serve as key metadata that will enable searches, filtering, and other forms of analysis by the user and other applications/services that may be seeking compelling insights from the large repository of videos stored on Cleversafe.

Before we dive into some screenshots of the actual app, here are some quick highlights of how our team built the app:

  • Unique algorithm:  The app itself actually autotags videos by using a unique composite scoring algorithm that takes the video and slices it up into images (each image is then “scored” by Watson and compiled into a final “video score” by our algorithm)
  • Autotag and Cleversafe:  The app itself utilizes IBM Watson in IBM Bluemix in the public cloud and stores the videos and its tags in IBM Cleversafe Object Storage on-premises in our lab
  • Hybrid:  Although IBM Secure Gateway is typically the way we would securely achieve this hybrid cloud scenario, we actually put together a one-off approach that utilizes Statica, among other tech
  • Demo iPad App:  For demo purposes, we wrote our own iPad app for Video Recon (screenshots below), which is currently in the hands of our field sales and engineering teams to be shown to our clients and ecosystem partners
  • API on the way:  Our intention is improve the app and possibly offer it as a service via APIs at some point, if there’s any interest from the ecosystem
  • Cleversafe is key:  Although this app does show the power of IBM Watson in video analytics, we actually love more how it showcases IBM Cleversafe as an elite object storage solution and one that will power digital application use cases and the associated explosion of unstructured data for many years to come (in addition to solving many data challenges of current applications today, like data archiving and enterprise collaboration)

 

And here is how the Video Recon iPad app actually looks as of today (v1):

(To watch a recorded demo please click here!)

The user can either record his own video, upload an existing one from the iPad, or choose a sample video that has been preloaded:

1

 

For the purposes of this demo, we’ll choose the preloaded video of a freight train (video on the right, which is around 10 seconds long in duration):

2

 

Video is then uploaded, which takes a few seconds:

3

 

Our Video Recon app then works in conjunction with IBM Watson:

4

 

The video is then returned with its Watson-generated tags, which does accurately tag the video with the word “Train.”  The video and its tags are then stored in Cleversafe for future use.

5

 

For more technical details on how we put together the app, please check back for future blog entries from our dev team that will break down exactly how they created this service.

If you’d like to see a live demo or have questions, please feel free to reach out to us via Live Chat (bottom right corner) or via our Contact Us form or on Twitter/Facebook.  Thanks for your interest!

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OpenStack Summit Austin 2016: Four of our key takeaways

 

Mark III attended the OpenStack Summit in Austin last week.  With over 8,000 people in attendance, the summit (which is half-conference, half-design summit) has quickly become one of the most important conferences for enterprise cloud in the industry today.  Here are some key thoughts and takeaways we had from our time there:

  • OpenStack is well beyond the inflection point:  By this I mean that OpenStack is now truly enterprise mainstream and widely accepted, even by most of the skeptics and analysts who had doubted the reliability and cohesiveness of the movement just 2-3 years ago.  The last Summit that I personally went to was San Diego in 2012 and the difference in size and tone between the two conferences was amazing.  As a company, Mark III has always had the opinion that OpenStack would emerge as the standard for the new digital, developer-centric cloud stack and its exciting to see so much momentum in that direction within that specific part of the industry.  This is not to say that OpenStack can solve every enterprise IT challenge today… it still needs to be utilized where its strengths are, but it now very much plays a key role in the future tech strategy for many enterprises and service providers.

 

  • OpenStack has evolved into the de facto standard for on-premise, developer-driven digital clouds:  Just like VMware emerged as the de facto standard for enterprise virtualization of traditional “core” applications over the last 10 years, OpenStack is really now the standard for enterprises and service providers that want to build an on-premise or hybrid cloud infrastructure stack that caters to cloud developers and DevOps engineers building digital applications.  There are, of course, many more options when one looks at the public cloud arena, but when you examine the choices within private digital clouds, OpenStack really is the strongest option that is genuinely developer-focused.

 

  • OpenStack is seeing a lot of momentum in HPC:  OpenStack originally grew up around on-premise and public cloud use cases for digital cloud applications, but we’ve been taking note of the momentum in HPC/Research use cases, many of which were featured at OpenStack Summit Austin.  Austin’s own Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) was a keynote presenter and touched on in great detail their usage of OpenStack across two of its premier HPC clusters, both which debuted OpenStack functionality within the last year.  There were many more examples of HPC use cases from all over the world featured at the conference and many of these panels/sessions were the most interesting for us to be a part of.

 

  • Containers everywhere:  Docker…. CoreOS…. Kubernetes….. If you want to draw a crowd to your session, just include one of these container-related words in your session brief.  Being a developer and DevOps focused conference, it does make a lot of sense why containers are featured so prominently at OpenStack Summit.  Although there were many sessions and use cases featuring containers, it does still feel a little early on the adoption curve for “mainstream” enterprises to adopt containers in Production, but you can definitely feel the momentum building.  This is definitely something we’ll keep an eye on and an area that we’re investing in from a skills standpoint to help guide our clients within the context of their existing strategies.

 

Here are some of the sights of the Summit:

From a Mark III perspective, OpenStack will continue to be a big part of our strategy at helping clients architect, implement, optimize, and maintain their on-premise and hybrid digital cloud strategies.  These strategies for digital stacks complement existing “core” applications, both of which require different approaches and different skillsets (and both of which Mark III can offer deep expertise and assistance).

Whether it be providing OpenStack-centric infrastructure solutions powered by our many partners, including IBM, or the expertise/code of our OpenStack-savvy engineers, or access to our OpenStack digital demo center in our Houston Client Lab, please let us know how we can help!

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Using IBM Cleversafe Object Storage Through a Proxy with Node.js

 

If you have to work with an “on premise” instance of Cleversafe, chances are there is a firewall that you must go through. If you have your app running on a service such as Bluemix where you don’t have control over which IP the server uses to make the requests, this guide might be useful for you.

You can click here to use this tutorial on how to set up a static IP to your Bluemix app to set up a Statica proxy. Once you have that set up you will have a URL that will contain your credentials.

Now that you have your proxy set up, you will need your IT team to whitelist the static IP’s given to you by Statica. Now lets see some sample code to access Cleversafe through the proxy:

 

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//We will use the request module to make the calls to Cleversafe
//and the fs-extra to read the files from the local storage

var request = require('request');
var fs = require('fs-extra');


var statica = "http://<Your Statica URL goes here>"

//cleversafe Credentials
var username = '<cleversafe username>';
var pass = '<cleversafe password>';

//BASIC authentication method
var auth = 'Basic ' + new Buffer(username + ':' + pass).toString('base64');


//Set up proxy and method to deposit files
var options = {
url: 'http://<Cleversafe address>/<Bucket name>/<filename>',
proxy:statica,
port: 80,
method: 'PUT',
headers: {
'Authorization':auth,
'User-Agent': '<User agent of your choice>'
}
};



function callback(error, response, body) {
if (!error && response.statusCode == 200) {
console.log(body);
}


}

//Deposit your file to Cleversafe
fs.createReadStream('<filename>').pipe(request(options, callback));

 

Now a bit of explaining.

The Statica proxy settings are being set inside the “options” object, we are setting the proxy for the request by using the url as the value for the field “proxy”, this will tell the request module to send all the requests through Statica and that way we can access Cleversafe even behind the firewall.

The Cleversafe authorization we are using is the BASIC method. This method consists of a string in the form “Basic <username>:<password>” that is then turned into a base64 string, Cleversafe is also compatible with other methods of authentication but in this case, BASIC worked just fine for me. The authorization goes inside the headers object by setting the field “Authorization” to the hashed string that comes from line 15.

In order to retrieve objects from Cleversafe, you just need to change the method from PUT to GET. Here is an example where the server works as an intermediary between the client and Cleversafe to return an image to the client:

 

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app.get('/cleverget/:filename', function(req,res) {
    console.log("getting.."+req.params.filename+ ' from CleverSafe');
    

	var options = {
		url: 'http://<Cleversafe address>/<Bucket name>/<filename>',
		proxy:statica,
		port: 80,
		method: 'GET',
		headers: {
		'Authorization':auth,
		'User-Agent': '<User agent of your choice>'
		}
	};



	function callback(error, response, body) {
	if (!error && response.statusCode == 200) {
	console.log(body);
	}


	}

	//in this case the example is an image
	res.writeHead(200, {'Content-Type' : 'image/png'});
	
	//pipe back the image to the client
	request(options, callback).pipe(res);

});

This example requires Express to be properly set up. A very good thing is that we are not storing the image but simply sending it to the client via piping. That way, the client does not get direct access to Cleversafe and there is no need to set up the proxy or client credentials for it.

These are just 2 basic operations of Cleversafe, there are many more to be used. Don’t be afraid to experiment and modify the requests to make it fit your needs. Feel free to comment or send us any questions you might have!

Guest blog from BlueChasm!

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SXSW 2016: Cognitive Computing Creating Possibilities

 

Mark III attended the 30th year of SXSW. There was so much to see and do from riding virtual reality bikes, learning about the latest and greatest apps, how wearables are changing how we do anything, IBM Watson mixing cognitive drinks, the ever evolving Internet of Things and thousands of other innovative technologies changing how we do business. The goal of this week for Mark III was to learn what new technologies are being created, how they will enhance what we are currently focusing on, and come up with creative ideas that improve the way we serve clients and our overall ecosystem.

Being a focused IBM partner, Mark III visited the IBM Cognitive Studio and IBM Design Hive to learn about the new innovative Watson technologies, play rock-paper-scissors with robots, take a virtual reality bike ride, see Watson make a cognitive cocktail, taste Chef Watson’s newest delectable and the many other projects IBM is working on. IBM Watson has come a long way since it debuted on Jeopardy! In 2011. Watson helps people at home find the perfect recipe for dinner with Chef Watson, improves the hospitality industry with the first Watson-enabled robot concierge, helps oncologists with cancer diagnosis and treatment, enables veterans to find the right information about post military life, and this is just the beginning. IBM Watson impacts business, homes, and individuals. The possibilities are endless with Watson and Bluemix. Mark III has a team of Watson and Bluemix developers creating innovative, customized applications for our enterprise clients.

SXSW 2016 IBM

One of the sessions Mark III attended was on the Internet of Caring Things. The Internet of Caring Things is a network of connected objects and cognitive systems with a clear mission to adversely care for people physically and mentally in their homes. This allows family members, doctors and caregivers to proactively monitor the health and well-being of the worlds aging population. The growing population demographic is disrupting key industries because people are living longer; which is a great problem to have!

SXSW 2016 IoCT

This market is considered a new business model for how to engage the elderly with smart objects. Majority of the world’s life patterns can be tracked by how they interact with their smart device, but the elderly do not engage the same way. Children, from a young age, are taught to use a smart phone or even play with a Watson powered CogniToys dinosaur (Internet of Family Things) making these tools a way of life. For every year an elderly person stays in their home they save $40-125K per year! In Japan, the post office offers a service where the postmen go door to door delivering mail and checking on loved ones. IBM did a study in Bolzano, Italy on this very focus. They installed a cognitive system not to track the persons every movement but to track abnormalities. Watch the video below to learn more!

As cognitive computing is adopted and data is collected machine learning becomes a key focus. Machine learning is a popular buzz word as of late but people have been using it for many years. For example, a spam filter learns what mail is “junk”, Netflix recommends movies based on other users with similar interests, and now machines are learning how to cure cancer! Data is the key to learning and the beginning to a revolution that will impact business and everyday life. More data has been created in the past two years then the entire history of the human race! Not only does Mark III help you to learn from data but it can help enterprises to store, manage, optimize and understand data!

Cognitive computing, machine learning, and other technologies will drive new markets and business models just like the Internet of Caring Things. Mark III sees these evolving markets as a creative opportunity to partner with businesses and change the way we live our lives. Just think what technology will support you as you age?

SXSW is about creativity, new technology and possibilities. Everything we do impacts the exploding cloud stack market. Mark III has the skills to build and iterate on digital cloud platforms and tech stacks on-premise or hybrid models, as well as, to create/develop a use case on top of that stack or a business’s current stack. SXSW ignited our creativity and drive to provide cognitive enterprise cloud solutions to impact everyone!

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Meet Mark III: An Interview with an Engineer

 

At Mark III Systems, we pride ourselves on our highly skilled and friendly engineers. To get a deeper insight into the inner workings at Mark III Systems we have interviewed one of our Senior Engineers, Joe Jurak. Joe has been with Mark III for 13 years and has a passion for technology, client success, and most importantly his family. In this interview, he discusses how he got started, a typical work week, his hobbies, and what motivates him every day.

Joe Jurak

1. How did you get started working in this field?

I went to university as a pre-med student with a double major in biology and microbiology.  One semester from graduation, after doing a four-week hospital internship, I changed my mind about becoming a doctor; that’s a whole other story. I immediately changed my major to Management Information Systems and continued in school for an additional three years. I applied for a job at my school as Mail Admin on UNIX and maintained this job for two years while completing my degree. One week before graduation, I was offered a job with Eclipsys as an Engineer on their Medical Archiving Solution (AIX, Oracle, and Optical Storage). I traveled around the country implementing this solution in numerous hospitals for two years. This was how I got my start in IT. I’ve only worked with three companies in my entire professional Career: two years with Eclipsys, four years with Air Liquide in Houston as Open Systems Manager, and with Mark III for 13 years.

2. What is a typical work week like for you?

On Sunday evenings, I audit my calendar for the upcoming work week. I spend about 90% of my time with our healthcare customers on current and upcoming projects. Of this time, I usually have one or two director level meetings to discuss long-term planning and budgets. The remaining time I spend with managers and storage teams on project work, technology presentations, lifecycle planning, customer documenting, and training. The bottom line is that I spend the majority of my time with our customers in some capacity and I love that about my work.

3. Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?

I attended The University of St. Thomas, Houston for my BBA in Management Information Systems. This was a very heavy programming degree which was just after the birth of the Information Systems Degree so it was very parallel to a Computer Science Degree; which St. Thomas did not offer at that time.

4. What do you enjoy most about your job and Mark III?

I love technology and I love our customers. Spending time with our customers on solutions and seeing the results following an implementation is very rewarding. In every case, we see dramatically successful results and improvements in the customer environment and that is always very exciting and rewarding. I also love teaching/training. It’s probably my single most favorite activity at Mark III.

And last but certainly not least, I love my Mark III Family. I have the honor and privilege of working with some of the most talented and genuinely ethical and sincere people in the world whom all share the common professional goal of providing the absolute best to our customers for every single project or request; no matter how big or how small.

5. Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies. 

My family is the most important thing in the world to me. I have three beautiful daughters. Making them smile, watching them grow, and spending time with them is my absolute favorite thing to do. We love to swim, exercise, watch movies, play games and for vacations we love to go snow skiing. Our annual snow ski trip is such a fun and wonderful time for our family. We love the outdoors, clean mountain air and the snow. We usually take road trips to the mountains and even though it’s a long drive, it’s very enjoyable to us. We love that intimate time together on the road.

Joe Jurak

6. What excites you most about where the industry is headed over the next 5 years? 

Competition breeds excellence and things are extremely competitive right now with what could almost be considered a paradigm shift in storage and compute technologies. I am particularly excited to see the evolution of IBM’s best in breed storage solutions and how they will continue to lead the way in the industry.

7. What’s the best project you’ve worked on? And why? 

I would have to say my very first project at Mark III. I designed and implemented a new TSM Enterprise Backup and Recovery Solution (now Spectrum Protect) for one of our customers at the time. The reasons I enjoyed this project so much were not really related to the technology or the actual work that I performed during the two-month period of the project, but it was really more of a personal reward for managing my first Mark III Project very successfully. It was very memorable as it was a big project with a lot of complex moving parts and the customer was very happy with the results, and that was the biggest reward of all.

8. How do you like your coffee? 

Cream and Sugar

9. Tell us a joke?

Knock Knock!

Who’s There?

Interrupting Cow.

Interrupting Co…..MOOOOOOOOOOO!

My daughter loves this joke – makes her laugh uncontrollably every time! Substitute Cow with anything and imitate the sound that thing makes —- by interrupting of course!

10. Is this glass: 

glass half?

A – Half Full?  Always Half Full! I am one of the most optimistic people I know. I am always hopeful with an almost sappy positive outlook on life and situations. I love to be happy. I find that the older I get the more so this is true. I dislike negativity very much.

B – Half empty?
C – Doesn’t have enough ice?
D – Not a glass at all

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Mark III + OpenPOWER + OCP + On-Premise = Barreleye

 

As a member of the OpenPOWER Foundation, Mark III was in attendance this week at the Open Compute Project Summit in San Jose.

If you weren’t aware, Mark III recently formally joined the OpenPOWER Foundation as a Silver member as a key step on our way to bringing unique, compelling OpenPOWER systems to enterprises, service providers, and organizations that are seeking highly-efficient, hyperscale compute options.  Although we have informally collaborated with community members in the Foundation for many years, formally joining the Foundation enabled us to be able to speak more freely about our intentions and really start working toward developing and shipping systems with OpenPOWER technologies to clients across North America.

The “equation” in the title of this blog post might make sense to some, but for those that it might still somewhat confuse, here is a quick primer on the definition of the terms.

Mark III (us) = Long-time IBM Premier Business Partner and skilled throughout the product lifecycle in most all things IBM, POWER, enterprise/service provider infrastructure, and enterprise cloud tech stack (among other things)

OpenPOWER = Open technical membership organization based around the POWER processor and its system platform in which members can optimize for their business needs by designing and building their own custom system

Open Compute Project (OCP) = Collaborative community focused on redesigning hardware technology to efficiently support the growing demands on compute infrastructure.  Most organizations today that have adopted OCP are hyperscale users and the Open Compute design spec generally caters to the efficiency needs of large-scale users of compute (OCP having been started by Facebook in 2011)

On-Premise = Systems located inside an enterprise or service provider’s datacenter

And what is Barreleye?

Barreleye is an ultra-powerful, highly-efficient server built with OpenPOWER technologies (including POWER8 processors) to an Open Compute Project spec that Rackspace initially announced their intention to build and rollout over the last year for OpenStack services and have been working toward a launch in the near future for their cloud services.

 

Barreleye   Barreleye-MarkIII

 

That announcement was great for Rackspace, but what if an enterprise/organization/service provider actually wants to run with Barreleyes on-premise or in a hybrid cloud scenario (and may or may not need some extra help exploring where it fits in)?  That’s where Mark III comes in!

In the very near future, it’s our intention to offer Barreleye servers in various configurations that can be sourced through Mark III anywhere in North America (along with our assistance/support/services, as needed).  As of right now, Barreleye will be the only OpenPOWER system built in the Open Compute Project spec, so it is very uniquely positioned to combine the extreme efficiency of the POWER processor (and all the open source enablement of the BIOS and OpenBMC) with all the awesome aspects of Open Compute, which large-scale users of compute have grown to love.

Here are some other random caveats and thoughts around this statement of direction, in case you’re curious:

  • Barreleye, like other OpenPOWER platforms, is Linux only (AIX/IBM i/etc will stay on IBM-branded POWER systems only)
  • Barreleye, in general, has seen around ~30-100% price/performance improvements vs. similar x86 platforms in a battery of intense testing (depending on the exact workload)
  • In our opinion, the sweet spot for Barreleye initially is workloads that include open source software/frameworks, analytics, HPC, Research, and generally any cloud-centric service that can benefit from an extreme amount of price-performance compute efficiency
  • Barreleye is built on the OCP spec, so this means you would need an Open Rack to house it (rather than the standard 19” rack that most enterprises use)
  • If you intend to port an existing application to Barreleye… I’m sure it’ll probably work, but it’s important to ensure that the ISV and related ecosystem will support Barreleye from the application standpoint (open source workloads are simpler in this respect)

 

If you have any questions about Barreleye or are just generally curious about our announcement or the OpenPOWER Foundation, please feel free to reach out and start a conversation!

 

 

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IBM InterConnect 2016: Solving Complex Cloud Challenges with IBM Spectrum Virtualize

 

Mark III attended the annual IBM InterConnect conference February 22-25 in Las Vegas and had the honor of sharing the experiences of a recent Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) client who solved their infrastructure and overall cloud challenges by moving to an IBM Spectrum Storage and IBM Storwize strategy to house their critical data and power their customer-facing analytics engine.

 

Interconnect-Preso

InterConnect-Andy

 

Here is a brief recap of what we covered during the session.

Before Mark III and IBM engaged, the client had been serving up nearly a petabyte of storage to end-users through their SaaS app using a combination of legacy non-IBM, on-premise disk storage and block/object storage in the public cloud (via one of the largest public cloud providers in the industry).  The storage environment had grown significantly over the last few years due to both organic growth and company acquisitions.

As they had grown, the storage environment serving their SaaS app had begun to experience the following issues:

  • Significant data availability issues: An average of one outage per month due to system/storage failures in the on-premise environment
  • Poor-to-average SaaS end-user performance: Regular end-user complaints on many queries/reports/tools
  • Skyrocketing and unpredictable costs from public cloud: Monthly costs grew out of control and were very difficult to forecast and budget for

 

In order to address these issues, Mark III recommended that the client consolidate their storage with IBM Spectrum Virtualize and IBM Storwize V5000.  Spectrum Virtualize enabled the client to virtualize their existing non-IBM storage and IBM Storwize V5000 systems behind one single management paradigm and utilize enterprise-wide, unique features like Easy Tier with Flash and Real-time Compression to optimize performance and capacity efficiency.  The client initially started with 300TB and have continued to add more gradually to the environment in a phased growth approach.

From an application connectivity standpoint, the client utilized Fibre Channel and iSCSI protocols in their VMware/Microsoft infrastructures (with VMware integrations), as well as OpenStack Cinder in their OpenStack Nova cloud-centric environment.  All of these interdependent pieces in aggregate made up their SaaS app.

As a result of the move to IBM Spectrum Virtualize, the client reaped enormous benefits including:

  • Elimination of SaaS service outages
  • SaaS analytics performance improvements of 100%+
  • OpenStack enabled a much quicker and more agile software dev cycle
  • Huge overall cost savings and more predictable budgeting (vs. the previous public cloud model)

 

As you can see, IBM’s Spectrum Storage portfolio helped a client with a hybrid cloud environment solve their complex challenges.  If your enterprise is having similar issues or is trying to incorporate an on-premise or hybrid cloud strategy into your current environment and would like our thoughts, please feel free to reach out!

Posted in compression, efficiency, flash, openstack, Real-time Compression, SAN Volume Controller, Storwize V5000, Uncategorized, virtualization, VMware | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NEW SVC DH8 Nodes (as if the CG8 nodes weren’t enough)

 

1 million IOPS?

File IBM’s announcement of the upcoming SAN Volume Controller DH8 generation of nodes under the category of “more horsepower than you’ll ever possibly need” for traditional I/O, which our clients have found is a really nice insurance policy within the realm of the end-user user experience (with a wide variety of different storage system backends).

As in past releases, one of the nice things of piggybacking on Intel’s roadmap is that SVC is able to leverage processor enhancements by Intel and turn them into substantial performance improvements.  The May announcement of SVC v7.3 and the new DH8 nodes is no different with the DH8 nodes featuring the latest Ivy Bridge v2 processors and giving users the new option of including up to 2 Intel QuickAssist chips for compression.

Additionally, there are a bunch of other announcements out there on some of the functionality enhancements and changes in SVC form factor (now 2U, but without the usual UPS), among other things, so I’m going to focus my thoughts below primarily on performance improvements.  To a certain extent, this is a conversation in the weeds about details don’t really matter, but it sort of illustrates a point about how performance is never and really never will be a concern with SVC, if very reasonable planning is done.

The following are some performance numbers for a single SVC node pair (I/O Group) from last week’s IBM Technical Edge conference.  These numbers were all run with an IBM FlashSystems backend, in an effort to see where the SVC nodes themselves maxed out at (i.e. the disk backend was not the limiting factor).  In short, the DH8 announcement takes the CG8 node’s really high maximum and pushes it to an unprecedented level, especially considering you can build an 8-node SVC cluster today with virtually any combination of SVC node generations.

 

SVC DH8 vs. CG8 Performance Comparison

 

What’s the net of this post?

First, performance with SVC is not and will not be a concern, if you responsibly plan ahead of time.  Even if you don’t, these huge performance maximums give you an incredible margin of error.

Second, the substantial horsepower in the DH8 nodes (in combination with the Intel-based compression accelerator) makes it fairly easy for anyone to adopt Real-time Compression without much thought.

Third, the DH8 nodes provide a certain degree of investment protection down the road, in case IBM is planning on releasing any new game-changing type features with the SVC (similar to that of the level of Real-time Compression).  If you invest in the DH8 now, I would feel pretty good that you should be able to accommodate any new features that may come down the road for at least 5 years.

Posted in compression, efficiency, flash, FlashSystem, Real-time Compression, SAN Volume Controller, storage, Storwize V7000, virtualization | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment