Tapping into blogger communities

March 31, 2010

What is a blogger?  Not only are there the corporate and independent bloggers, but many bloggers don’t fall into the well defined traditional buckets such as marketing, press, or analyst.  While companies have mostly tackled how they will allow their employees to participate in the social world, how can companies engage and tap into the fast-changing communities of external bloggers?

Over the last year, I’ve had the pleasure of participating a number of events that have tapped into blogger communities – see my Blogger Photo wall for some of them.  Bloggers are always looking for connections and information, so if you can bring together a group that have similar interests around an event is a good way to build some goodwill.  Most bloggers are rather social and many are including photos and videos, so make sure to give them time to socialize and appropriate power, networking and  interview areas.

Here are 3 upcoming events of blogger communities:

The brainchild of Stephen Foskett, the 2nd Gestalt IT Tech Field Day is coming to Boston on April 8th and 9th.  As described on the website: “This unique event brings together innovative IT product vendors and independent thought leaders, allowing them to get to know one another. It is a forum for engagement, education, hands-on experience, and feedback.”  EMC is a sponsor of the event which provides us with 3 hours where we are looking forward to good technical discussion.  These events help to increase connections and is a clear benefit to both the attendees and sponsors by building a tighter sense of community.  One of the aspects of the event that I really like is that there is time for discussion and socialization built into the schedule.  You can follow the event on Twitter using #TechFieldDay.

We are in full preparation mode for this year’s EMC World, which is being held in Boston from May 10-13 – see the site for registration details.  Len Devanna is bringing back the highly successful Blogger’s Lounge to this years show.  Looks like we’ll have an interesting mix of tech bloggers, social media experts, press and analysts.  I had so many good conversations at last year’s event that I had lost my voice by Wednesday.  Bloggers can sign up for entrance on this wiki.  In addition to the usual broad spectrum of keynotes and technical presentations, I’m hearing that a lot of the podcasts and industry calls that normally take a week off for the conference will be broadcast from EMC World this year.  It will be like the Superbowl week for the storage industry.  If any bloggers have questions about attending or partners have questions about tapping into some of the special events, feel free to drop me a note and I’ll be happy to help connect you with the appropriate people.  You can follow the event on Twitter using #emcworld.

The third event is the World Innovation Forum which is held in New York City on June 8-9th.  HSM Americas started a blogger’s lounge for the World Innovation Forum and World Business Forum last year and they were both tremendous events.  In addition to the world class speakers, they helped to create a community of bloggers from diverse industries.  The bloggers are given access similar to press which included special seating, plus the very necessary network and power connections.  The Twitter activity and blogging posts increase the conference’s reach around the world and continues the discussions long after the conference has ended.  There are so many things that can be learned by reading and interacting with bright and engaged people with very different points of view.  If you can’t make this event in person, you can follow it on Twitter using #wif10.

Have you seen any other interesting engagements with blogging communities?  I hope that you’ll join some of the upcoming events, either in person or through conversation on Twitter or through this blog.  I’d love to share any viewpoints or questions from the community at these events.  If you’re new to this site, please consider subscribing to this blog.

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com

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Happy 30th IEEE 802!

March 16, 2010

Sometimes, standards are an obstacle to innovation. Sometimes innovations lead to chaos. The art is in knowing when standards will accelerate innovation

From The Day Dot-Coms Were Invented by Bob Metcalfe (Ethernet inventor)

Today is the 30th anniversary of IEEE 802 standards committee which has delivered Ethernet technologies (including wireless Ethernet) and the Data Center Bridging enhancements which enable FCoE.  I really liked Bob’s quote about innovation and standards.  It might be “easy” for a single vendor to try and tackle a new market, but customers rely on the standards bodies to give them some stability in the future of their investments and flexibility that they will not be stuck with a single vendor.  There is a complex dance that goes on between what vendors drive through the standards and what is delivered as value added functionality.


Virtual Storage, not just another V-word

March 11, 2010

In the realm of storage, I have spent most of my time outside of the storage box, especially how storage networking, servers and operating systems (OS) impact storage.  I began working with Cisco and VMware long before the VCE initiative.  Some of the broad industry trends that we have seen across the OS and network stacks are also applicable to the storage layer.  Pat Gelsinger, EMC’s President and Chief Operating Officer of Information Infrastructure Products, spoke today with a group of analysts to lay out a vision for Virtual Storage.  The audio and slides of Pat’s presentation can be seen here (may request your email address to view).

This strategy relates to Private Cloud. If you look at the diagram below, virtual storage lives in the virtual information infrastructure layer.

To understand the trends, let’s look at the OS and network layers of this stack.

Server Virtualization is much more than hypervisors

The first thing that most people think about when they look at server virtualization is how it can help consolidate resources, which leads to a reduction in hardware and therefore to savings in power and space.  When I think back to my first interactions with VMware in 2003 (when I was in EMC’s E-Lab), it was actually the abstraction/isolation of an environment that was so useful.  Old operating systems (Windows NT) or “odd” environments (FreeBSD) could be put in a VM and EMC’s storage could then support the configuration.  In addition to extending the life of an existing configuration, VMware is tremendously valuable for test and development environments.  Around the time that we were first working with VMware, they came out with a product that everyone thought was magic when they first saw it – VMotion:  Live Migration of a virtual machine.  The liberation gained with this feature turned a useful/interesting product into a game changer.  Individual server resources could be turned into a pool of resources.  With the addition of VMware Distributed Resource Scheduling (DRS), VMotion becomes automated.  As a final note here, take a look at some of the plans around extending VMotion over distance that were discussed at VMworld last year.

Convergence and Cloud Internetworking

As with server virtualization, the first step towards network virtualization is consolidation of resources.  With the adoption of 10Gb Ethernet and storage protocols such as Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), iSCSI and NAS, we reach a single network for LAN and SAN traffic: a building block of the private cloud.  In particular, FCoE allows existing infrastructures built on FC to move towards a unified environment.  Another enabler of cloud internetworking is Cisco’s Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) which they unveiled last month.  OTV allows for mobility of resources across datacenters or with a compatible service provider.  OTV leads networking down the same path of automation and mobility that we have taken with server virtualization.

Virtual Storage, not just another V-word

As my mainframe friends have told me, virtualization is not a new idea, and storage virtualization has been available from EMC and competitors for many years.  Similar to what is happening in the OS and networking stack, Virtual Storage goes beyond the basic functionality prevalent in the market today  by adding flexibility and automation.  The goal is to transform individual storage resources to a pool using Federation.  As defined on the Wikibon site, Federated Storage enables a “loosely coupled set of storage resource nodes to act unilaterally and still be managed centrally, organizations can create networks of virtually limitless capacities and eliminate disruptive migrations”.  While many vendors may be working on federation, Pat Gelsinger discussed EMC’s vision, in which an enabling Distributed Cache Coherence technology allows for Global Federation.   In a recent Forbes interview, Pat discussed the value of leveraging federation over distance:

“I want to flexibly move those across shared infrastructure, which can drive up the utilization dramatically. I also can get load balancing across data centers, do mainframe-like high-availability and failover. I also can build a cloud-like architecture that’s private and then federate from my private cloud to my external environment, where I can have spillover.”

Similar to what we’ve seen in the OS and networking stack, virtual storage will allow the use of both old and new resources, regardless of location – providing an onramp to adoption of a Private Cloud model.  As Chuck Hollis has said: “And maybe we can start thinking entirely differently about that age-old catch phrase of “IT delivered as a service”.”

Comments are always welcome.  You can be sure that we’ll be talking a lot more about this at EMC World, May 10-13 in Boston.  I will be presenting Converged Data Center: FCoE, iSCSI, and the Future of Storage Networking.  Any bloggers that are attending should sign up for the Blogger’s Lounge.  Hope to see you there.

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com

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40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet status and outlook

March 5, 2010

I had the pleasure of attending the Ethernet Technology Summit last week in San Jose.  In addition to presenting as part of the FCoE track, I was able to spend a day getting updated on 40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet from the people and vendors involved in creating the standards which are both expected to be ratified in June 2010.  While most enterprise customers are only now starting to deploy 10Gb Ethernet, the completion of the higher speeds are very important developments.  Traditionally, the higher speeds allow for greater utilization of the previous generation; we have seen that 10Gb is first deployed at the backbone for environments that have deployed 1Gb at the server.  There are 2 significant changes that I’ll highlight about the next instantiation of Ethernet:

  1. There are new speeds – 40Gb and 100Gb
  2. There is expected to be a shift in cabling from a copper to optical

Why we need both 40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet

Ethernet has always moved in 10x increments from 10Mb > 100Mb > 1Gb > 1oGb.  Below is a 2007 IEEE forecast of server adoption of Ethernet Connections.  While the standard for 10Gb Ethernet was ratified in 2002, it wasn’t until 2007 until server adoption began and it was 2009/2010 before we saw significant customer deployments in their datacenters and servers.

The presenters at the conference made a compelling case that server IO doubled every 24 months, while core networking doubled every 18 months.  Server bus architectures must also mature to take advantage of the high bandwidth interconnect.  This led to the idea to create 100Gb for the core (between switches) and 40Gb for the distribution/aggregation (pedestal/rack/blade servers to switches).  As for the uses for these speeds, it is the next generation of servers which are characterized by dense computing and high utilization through virtualization which will use 40Gb and 100Gb will enable the success of 10Gb servers.

Is it finally the end of copper?

When 10Gb Ethernet was first ratified as a standard, optical was the only option that was available.  The idea of creating 10GBase-T (using RJ45 connected cables such as CAT6/6a) was around in 2002, became a standard in 2006 and just last month, Cisco announced their first product supporting this option.  With the ratification of 40Gb and 100Gb coming in only a few months, we once again find that the options for cabling are optical and a short-distance copper (no UTP).  A note on cabling:

10Gb Ethernet currently supports optical (300m support w/ OM3 multimode fibre), Twinax (SFP+DA copper w/ lengths varying by vendor, but < 10m) and 10GBase-T (CAT6 at 55m; CAT6a at 100m; note that today there are no FCoE solutions supporting 10GBase-T).

Both 40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet will have a copper option up to 7m (QSFP connector – this is what is used in InfiniBand today, not what is used for 10Gb) and multimode optical up to 100m (and singlemode up to 10km).

The official position of the Ethernet Alliance is that the adoption of 40/100 will see us shift from UTP to optical.  With 1Gb Ethernet and earlier generations, over 99% of all cabling deployments were UTP/RJ45.  The price, power requirements, distance limitations and other technical hurdles have been more and more difficult to overcome with each generation.  Storage customers using Fibre Channel are already using optical cabling, so for some customers that are converging the SAN and LAN into a single network with 10Gb Ethernet, the migration to an all optical configuration is easy.  For the legacy of customers with billions of ports of existing cabling infrastructure, it will be an analysis of whether they can reuse their existing environment.  In new datacenter builds, there will need to be a determination as to how UTP and optical cabling options match the expected maturing of technology over the lifetime of a deployment (typically 5-10 years).

Outlook

Adoption of Ethernet speeds may take many years, but the availability of the next speeds provide investment protection and a path for continued growth.  Ethernet may be ubiquitous, but there as practitioners roll-out 10Gb Ethernet, they should become familiar with the 40Gb and 100Gb to understand how decisions that they make today may allow for adoption of future technologies.

Comments and clarifications are welcome.  If you’re new to this site, please consider subscribing to this blog.

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com

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