Adventures

Just over 20 years ago I received one of the three greatest gifts of my life – the other two being salvation and my sweet wife. For those of you who are fathers, especially fathers of a beautiful little girl, you know the feeling I had back in 1994 when I held my daughter for the first time. Indescribable.  You hold in your hands a life that has been uniquely created   for a specific purpose and it’s your job to help shape her for whatever lies ahead.

One of the character traits I determined I wanted her to have was the confidence to try new things, to explore, to reach, to go on adventures. It’s okay to figure out you don’t like something, but don’t be timid about trying. So, from early in her life I would take her on adventures – encourage her to try.

Climb high!

Climb highExplore a cave!

Explore a caveStand on the edge of the world!

Stand on the edge of the worldFly in a hot air balloon!

Fly in a hot air baloonVenture out into nature!

Venture out into natureLearn to ski!

Learn to skiBecome an expert!!

Ski blackMaster the mountain!!!

Ski double blackBe the gondolier on a Venetian gondola!

Be a gondolierExplore under the sea!

Explore under the seaDance with a dolphin!

Dance with a dolfinWhen she reached college a couple years ago I told her my job was done. She had developed a quiet confidence to explore. From here on out the adventures were up to her. Little did I know that after she had endured a lifetime of me pushing her beyond her comfort zone, she would be looking for a little payback. But that’s exactly what happened.

Last week while on an end-of-summer family vacation, my daughter said to me “hey daddy, look at that sketchy little plane over there… “

Skydive Kauai 1Then she said “Let’s go on an adventure!” The next thing I know I’m standing with her all strapped up to not only get in that crazy plane, but to jump out of it at 10,000 feet. That’s right, the ‘adventure’ she chose was skydiving. Good grief!

Skydive Kauai 2So we get to altitude, the door flings open, and there goes my daughter.

Skydive Kauai 3Now I’m thinking, “I’ve drug her on all kinds of adventures for most of her life, what kind of a dad would I be if I chickened out?” So the next thing you know I’m out the door after her!

GOPR8995The expert folks at Skydive Kauai brought us both down safely. The pictures I saw shortly after returning to earth confirmed that my daughter has indeed developed a genuine passion for reaching, for exploring, for going on adventures. In her face was pure joy!!

Skydive Kauai 5Skydive Kauai 6Skydive Kauai 7Skydive Kauai 9Skydive Kauai 10Skydive Kauai 11Way to go baby girl! Never stop going on adventures!!!

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The Pulse of the Cloud

baseball player hittingThose of us who live in the northern hemisphere generally love this time of year. We are on the downhill side of winter and about a month from the beginning of spring. Many of my friends here in the United States are already swinging baseball bats (or at least watching their children swing baseball bats). And at IBM, the smell of Pulse is in the air. Next week in Las Vegas, thousands of our valued clients and trusted partners will engage in a bold discussion on Cloud.

For those who are attending the Pulse Open Cloud Summit on Sunday February 23, or the main Pulse sessions beginning Monday February 24, one speaker of particular interest should be Jamie Thomas, General Manager, IBM Software Defined Systems. Take a moment to follow her on Twitter.

IBM CloudI was able to get advance copies of both Jamie’s main tent keynote Monday morning at 10am (session KEY-2550A) and her Cloud & Software Defined Environments (SDE) track kickoff Monday afternoon at 1pm (session CET-1463A). Jamie is a bold thinker and you should expect to walk away with good perspective on Cloud and SDE.

Jamie’s keynote centers on how cloud is changing the way work gets done. The lines between business leaders, developers and IT operations are blurring as they work in concert to compose new business models in a dynamic cloud. You’ll want to pay special attention as Jamie will be making some big announcements around IBM’s open community participation and a new composable environment to enable developers to rapidly build, deploy, and manage their cloud applications.

IBM SDE Open CommunitiesThe track kickoff lays the groundwork for a thorough week of Cloud and SDE sessions. Jamie will explain the business and technology dynamics that are pushing IT toward a new generation of infrastructure and she’ll give you a rich glimpse into how IBM is working in an open community context to make that infrastructure a reality. Some themes to watch for will be:

  • application aware – a great benefit of clouds and SDE is that they know something about the applications they are servicing
  • automation – SDE is automation for cloud
  • resource smart – you need to make the most effective use of you chosen hardware
  • openness – open source and open standards accelerate innovation and enable flexibility

Whether you are an IT decision maker, an architect, or a practitioner simply interested in the kinds of skills you’ll soon need to master, this session will help you organize your thinking.

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Prophecy Fulfilled

This is a follow-up to the post on My Story. For context, it’s worth a few minutes to read the original post. For those who are interested in more information, I have outlined specific Old Testament prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment. If after reading it you still want more of the story, pick up a modern translation of the New Testament and read the book of Luke.

The Jewish Bible, what more or less corresponds to what most non-Jews call the Old Testament, was written over a 1500-year period and contains over 300 references to the coming Messiah. The Old Testament was completed nearly 450 years B.C. and was translated into Greek in 250 B.C.

Another two hundred and fifty years later in the person of Jesus Christ, every one of the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah was fulfilled. And these aren’t just things that He could have read and mimicked. Most were beyond the control of a normal man. The New Testament records the fulfillment.

prophecy fulfilledHe was born how and where the Old Testament predicted.

Prophecy:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
Fulfillment:
“…she was found to be with child by to Holy Spirit. And Joseph…kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” Matthew 1:18, 24, 25 also Luke 1:26-35

Prophecy
Speaking to Abraham; “And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Genesis 22:18
Fulfillment:
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
Matthew 1.1
“Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ’and to seeds’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘and to your seed,’ that is Christ.” Galatians 3:16

Prophecy:
But as for you Bethlehem…From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2
Fulfillment:
“…Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea…” Matthew 2:1 also John 7:42 and Luke 2:4-7

He came because we have a problem.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
In other words, we have all messed up at one point in our lives making us fall short of God’s perfection.

So what?
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23
That means eternal separation from God – Hell.

But…
“The Lord is not slow about His promise…but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9

What promise?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17
“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;” Romans 10:9

The perfect sacrifice, Jesus died in your place.

Jesus was killed by means of Roman crucifixion, a method of execution that did not come into practice in the Jewish system for hundreds of years after the prophecies were written. Crucifixion involved hanging a person on a cross by hammering blunt spikes through the victims’ hands and feet. The legs were often broken to make it impossible for the victim to rise up and take a breath.

Prophecy:
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by his scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Fulfillment:
“Then he released Barabbas for them; but Jesus he scourged and delivered over to be crucified.” Matthew 27:26

Prophecy:
“…they pierced my hands and my feet.” Psalm 22:16 also Zechariah 12:10
Fulfillment:
“And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him…” Luke 23:33

Prophecy:
“…Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors,…” Isaiah 53:12
Fulfillment:
“At that time, two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left.” Matthew 27:38 also Mark 15:27, 28

Prophecy:
“He keeps all his bones; Not one of them is broken” Psalm 34:20
Fulfillment:
“…but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.” John 19:33

And darkness fell over the land.

Prophecy:
“And it will come about in that day, declares the Lord God, that I shall make the sun go down at noon and make the earth dark in broad daylight.” Amos 8:9
Fulfillment:
“Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.” Matthew 27:45
Note: because the Jews reckoned twelve hours from sunrise to sunset, it would make the sixth hour near noon and the ninth hour about three o’clock.

And He was buried.

Prophecy:
“His grave was assigned to be with wicked men, yet with a rich man in His death.” Isaiah 53:9
Fulfillment:
“…there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph,…and asked for the body of Jesus…And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb…” Matthew 27:57-60

But what good is a dead Savior?

Jesus knew why He had come to the earth. He knew that He was going to have to die in order to become the perfect sacrifice. He also knew what was going to happen next. And so that there would be no mistake, He told those around Him ahead of time. He told them that He was going to die and that three days later He would rise again. See:

Matthew 12:38-40, 16:21, 17:9, 17:22-23, 20:18-19, 26:32, 27:63
Mark 8:31-9:1, 9:10, 9:31, 14:28 and 58, 10:32
Luke 9:22-27
John 2:19-22, 12:34

And He did!

Fulfillment:
“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightening, and his garment as white a snow; and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. And the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen just as He said. Come see the place where He was lying.” Matthew 28:1-6 also Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-9, John 20:1-7

And just to leave no doubt, Jesus then met face to face with over 500 people.
To Mary Magdalene, John 20:14, Mark 16:9
To women returning from the tomb, Matthew 28:9-10
To Peter, later in the day, Luke 24:34, I Corinthians 15:5
To the Emmaus disciples, Luke 24:13-33
To the apostles, Thomas absent, Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-24
To the apostles, Thomas present, John 20:26-29
To the seven by the Lake of Tiberius, John 21:1-23
To a multitude of 500 plus believers on a Galilean mountain, I Corinthians 15:6
To James, I Corinthians 15:7
To the eleven, Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:14-20, Luke 24:33-52, Acts 1:3-12
At the ascension, Acts 1:3-12

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My Story

I’ve been blogging for a while and from time to time I hear from folks who want to know more about my background. So, for those who are drawn to the personal side of blogging, here’s my story. If you’ll give me a few minutes, I expect you’ll find it worth your time.

popup1I grew up in a typical American family – mom, dad, brother, sister and a dog. I even had some fish for a while. My family was close. My brother and I shared a bedroom and would routinely laugh with each other into the night, at least until we heard our dad say something like, “Boys, don’t make me come up there.” We had a pop-up camper trailer and every summer we would go on long family trips. I guess that was one of the things that made us so close because when you cram a family of 5 into a small trailer, you tend to get to know each other better. My dad was fortunate enough to have a good job that allowed my mom to stay at home and, well, be a mom. She had a college degree in home economics and was doing what she had always intended to do.

One fall, though, our world changed. My mom went to the hospital with abdominal pain. The doctors thought it was appendicitis. However, when they went in to take out her appendix, instead of a bad appendix, they found inoperable liver cancer. They closed her up and told my dad that she had six months to live.

NJHSI only remember bits and pieces from those six months. My mom missed me being inducted into the National Junior Honor Society, but I went to the hospital to show her the new suit I had gotten for the occasion. When she came home from the hospital, her friends from a supper club that my parents had been a part of for years threw her a party. Her back would hurt so bad that she would sleep curled up in front of a small space heater in her bathroom. One night, we were all sitting together in our den watching TV. My mom wanted to watch some TVshow – I don’t even remember what it was – but I didn’t want to see it. So I pitched a fit and went up to my room to do something else. That memory haunts me to this day because my mom fell into a coma the next week. What wouldn’t I give to have another opportunity to watch that no-name show? The doctors had given her six months. They were right. She was 38 years old.

Those events have colored a lot of the things I now think and do. When I got married, I realized that I had transitioned to being more than just a loved sibling and child; I was now someone that my wife was depending on being there for her. I became keenly aware of my health. In my early 30’s, when most of my peers still viewed themselves as young and invincible, I started going to an internal medicine doctor for routine checkups – EKG’s, chest X-ray’s, blood work, etc. – so that I would have a good baseline for any future health problems. I exercise regularly – mostly running and cycling. I don’t smoke, drink alcohol, eat lots of fatty foods or red meat, or take in much caffeine. I do drink lots of water, take vitamins and eat a good deal of poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables.

Then I became a father. Again, colored by the loss of my mom, I did something a little out of the ordinary. You see, when my mom died, I wasn’t really old enough to appreciate all Video letters smallthe things that must have been going through her mind. Now that I am older and more mature, I have often wondered what she thought of me as I was growing up. What made her proud? What were her happiest moments? Why did she cry? What did she hope for me? What did she wish she could have told me during her last six months? When I found out that I was going to be a dad, I started a video letter to my child – telling her all of my joys and fears, my dreams, the things that make me proud, the things that I hope for her, and most of all, that I love her.  She’s in college at Texas A&M University now, but I still continue that letter every time I get a chance.

Another thing I did was to prioritize my life. You see, I have found that with the demands of work, I have a real tendency to get sucked in to the urgent and lose focus of the important. To help me guard against that big sucking sound, I wrote the following on a small slip of paper many years ago and hung it in my office.

In my life, my priorities are

  1. my God
  2. my family
  3. my health
  4. my job

The first three I can’t replace and I can’t live without.
Conflicts will be resolved in priority order.

Those words have caused me to miss job opportunities and even to resign what many would consider the perfect job. But the priorities have stayed intact.

I hold my wife’s hand every time we pray together – and we do that every day. I have sung to my daughter almost every night that we have been in the same place since she was born, even now when she’s home from college. I tell them both that I love them – routinely.

Cath labThen, on December 21, 2001, my world changed again. I woke up that Friday morning to chest pains. I was having a heart attack.  For the next several hours, doctors and nurses aggressively tried to determine the cause but were not successful. As they rolled me up the hall to the Cardiac Cath Lab, all kinds of thoughts were flying through my head. What were the last words I said to my wife? Did I tell her I love her? Does she know it? Will my daughter be okay growing up without her daddy? Please let her find those video letters. Does my wife know where to find information on our insurance and investments? Will she be okay? God take care of them. Oh God, please let me come back down this hall!

I was blessed. I did come back down that hall. What they found was that all the preparation and attention I had paid to my health had paid off. My blood chemistry was perfect and my arteries were clean as a whistle. Some may say that this just goes to prove that it really doesn’t matter what you do. The view of those I have talked to, though, is that the preparation and attention may well have allowed me to survive and also to emerge with so little lasting damage. Interesting side note – like my mother, I was 38 years old.

The doctors still don’t know what caused me to have a heart attack. Cardiac enzyme tests showed definitively that I had a heart attack. Speculation is that I had a transient blood clot or a coronary arterial spasm. But I have been left with one inescapable reminder of two realities in life.

First, we must take care of today because tomorrow is not guaranteed.
The questions that flew through my mind as I went “up the hall” told me that, even with a life experience that has caused me to pay special attention to the little things, I had left things undone. I sing to my daughter every night – true. But at the time I had started cutting her short so I could get back to something else – a computer game or a movie on TV. Each night when I go to bed I kiss my wife but I had been just grabbing her hand and kissing it instead of taking the time to hold her in my arms and do it right. Just two examples, but you get the picture.

Nike-Just-Do-it-Logo-Wallpaper-WideIf you are reading this and you have things that need to be taken care of, take the advice of Nike – “Just do it!” If you need to ask someone for forgiveness, do it. If you need to forgive someone, do it. If you need to tell someone that you love him or her, do it. Been a long time since you spoke to a parent, told a child how wonderful they are, told your spouse you adore her, do it – intentionally – routinely. Been spending too much time at work, go home. Don’t wait until you go “up the hall” to take care of today.

Second, we must take care of eternity because we may be entering it at any time.
One thing that I am certain of is eternity – what happens to me when I die. Let me tell you why.

Light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnelThroughout history, there have been a great number of gifted teachers and religious leaders. Moses, Paul, Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius, etc. Only one of the recognized religious leaders ever claimed to be God. His name is Jesus. The fact that Jesus claimed to be one with God leaves Him in a position with no middle ground. If He is not God, then one of two things are true. Either He was an outright liar or He was a nut case. Either way, He certainly is not to be trusted, much less worshiped. If, on the other hand, His claims are true, then you are left with a decision. Will you accept Him or reject Him?

C.S. Lewis, who was a professor at Cambridge University and once was an agnostic, wrote: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and poached_eggsaid the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”

AD-BCI suppose that some people view Jesus as a mythical character in some religious book. But that’s not it at all. Have you ever stopped to think what B.C. stands for? The world records its time based on one constant. Things that happened before Christ (B.C.) and things that happened after Him (A.D.; anno Domini, Medieval Latin for “in the year of the Lord”). Jesus Christ did live on this earth. He is the “Christ” in B.C. and the “Lord” in anno Domini. The question is, “Who was He?”

The Bible is broken up into two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament was completed nearly 450 years B.C. and was translated into Greek in 250 B.C. It contains over 300 references to the coming Messiah. The New Testament was not begun until after Jesus. It tells the most important story in history.

He was born how and where the Old Testament predicted.
“…she was found to be with child by to Holy Spirit. And Joseph…kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” Matthew 1:18, 24, 25 also Luke 1:26-35

He came because we have a problem.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
In other words, we have all messed up at one point in our lives making us fall short of God’s perfection.

So what?
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23
That means eternal separation from God – Hell.

But…
“The Lord is not slow about His promise…but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9

What promise?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17
“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;” Romans 10:9

The perfect sacrifice, Jesus died in your place.
“And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him…” Luke 23:33

And darkness fell over the land.
“Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.” Matthew 27:45

And He was buried.
But what good is a dead Savior?

Jesus knew why He had come to the earth. He knew that He was going to have to die in order to become the perfect sacrifice. He also knew what was going to happen next. And so that there would be no mistake, He told those around Him ahead of time. He told them that He was going to die and that three days later He would rise again.

And He did!
“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightening, and his garment as white a snow; and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. And the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen just as He said. Come see the place where He was lying.” Matthew 28:1-6 also Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-9, John 20:1-7

And just to leave no doubt, Jesus then met face to face with over 500 people.

That’s the story. The Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, were written with a primary purpose in mind.
“But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God”; and more important, “that believing you might have life in His name” John 20:31

Jesus crossroadJesus Christ did live on this earth. That question still remains though, “Who was He?” Either His claims were false making Him an outright liar or a nut case. Or, His claims are true, and you are left with a decision. Will you accept Him or reject Him? As one who has recently experienced an inescapable reminder that physical life is fragile, I would ask you not to go another day without answering that question.

MyStoryI told you earlier that one thing that I am certain of is eternity – what happens to me when I die. You see, through faith, I have met Jesus Christ. My personal experience is that He is alive and that His forgiveness is real. Because of Him, my eternity is secure. And it has nothing at all to do with how bad I was or how good I have been. It has everything to do with the grace God showed when He sent His Son to die on a cross as the perfect sacrifice and the simple faith I have in His resurrection.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

If you are interested in more information, I have outlined specific Old Testament prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment in a follow-on post on Prophecy Fulfilled. If after reading it you still want more of the story, pick up a modern translation of the New Testament and read the book of Luke.

Posted in Personal thoughts | Tagged | 3 Comments

A Change in Role

For 27 years I’ve had the privilege of working in the storage industry, most of those years focused on storage software. While leading the storage team at Texas Instruments, I developed a great working relationship with IBM. As an IBMer, I’ve had the opportunity to build lasting relationships with clients, business partners, industry analysts and other IBMers all over the world. These are innovative people whose daily excellence has made work really fun! Heck, what’s not to like? As I move to a new role, I’m leaving a team that IDC says is either #1 or #2 in every segment where they compete.

So where am I going?

Well, I’m still an IBMer – an association I’m quite proud of. Check out this video to better understand why.

I’m moving to a relatively new division focused on applying IBMs considerable expertise to the challenge of Software Defined Environments (SDE). Officially, my title is Program Director, Software Defined Environments.

What will I be doing?

The IT industry is going through a transformation. Whole generations of IT professionals, yours truly included, grew up when IT infrastructure was something that you could walk down the hall and touch – assuming you had the right security clearance to get through the door into the machine room. But with the rapid onset of SDE, infrastructure is changing. Servers aren’t servers; they are virtual machines that are elastic in horsepower and mobile (Software Defined Compute – SDC). Disks aren’t disks; they are thin provisioned, compressed virtual volumes that are replicated, snapshotted and mobile from tier-to-tier, vendor-to-vendor, and site-to-site. Tapes aren’t tapes; they are a deduplicated, replicated figment of the imagination that is stored on a disk (Software Defined Storage – SDS). And increasingly, networks aren’t wires with plugs; they are programmable, dynamic paths through chained sets of services that run in virtual machines (Software Defined Networks – SDN). It’s a big shift with even bigger promise.

My job is two-fold. I’m going to help clients with the transition – understanding the benefits and use cases of SDE, and how to start or in many cases continue the transition. I’m also going to help IBM. Like our customers, we are a company with a lot invested in hardware defined environments. Hardware isn’t magically disappearing, but this industry transition is shifting focus toward SDE and that needs to be managed carefully. The new division I have joined was created for just that reason.

Why am I moving now?

For almost 20 years I have had a piece of paper in my office with these words written on it.

Excellence

Throughout my career I’ve enjoyed working with people who reach for excellence. I’ve only just started to build relationships with my new team but already they seem like folks who fit the mold. The thing that has kept the work interesting and fresh though is innovation and right now SDE is overflowing in that respect. Perfect storm! I feel like a kid in a candy shop and I love it!

If you want to follow along with IBM as we lead clients through the transition to SDE, follow IBM Software Defined on Twitter @IBMSDE, or watch #IBMSDE.

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Backup redesign: A top priority for IT managers (Part 3)

This is the conclusion of a three-part conversation with Dr. Xin Wang, product manager for IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM). In part 1, Xin discussed what she has learned about the challenges IT managers are facing leading to the backup redesign movement. In part 2, she began discussing her near term plans for TSM. Let’s conclude the conversation:

The Line: It seems like there is lots to watch for in the VMware space. The final observation you made was about administrators. Say a little bit there.

Xin: The administration job is changing. Nobody has time to do anything they don’t need to be doing. We introduced a completely new approach to backup administration earlier this year with the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center. Soon we plan to make the administrator’s job even easier.

  • Deployment of a new backup server instance can be a task that requires expertise and customization. So we’re planning to remove the guesswork with blueprints for different sized configurations.
  • Auto deployment and configuration. This includes daily care and feeding of the backup repository, provisioning the protection of a new workload (client), monitoring status and activities, redriving failures and so on. We’re expanding the Operations Center.

The Line: Xin, it sounds like the near future holds some exciting possibilities for IT managers as they redesign their backup environments. Is there anything else you would like to mention that I missed?

Xin: Actually, yes. There’s one more really important thing. Whether an IT manager is sticking with traditional backup methods or redesigning with snapshots, VMware integration or one of the best practice blueprints, often times there is still a need to move some of those copies somewhere else for safe keeping. Think vaulting, offsite storage or disaster recovery. This can take time, use up network resources and result in a really large repository.

Since the days when TSM pioneered the idea of incremental forever backup, we’ve been leading the industry in data reduction to minimize strain on the environment. It’s one of the things that drive the economic savings we show in Butterfly studies. Soon we are planning some enhancements to our native client-side and server-side deduplication that will improve ingest capacity on the order of 10x. That’s 1,000 percent more deduplicated data each day! We plan to fold this capability into our new blueprints so IT managers can get the benefit right out of the box.

The Line: Nice! Xin, thank you for taking the time to share your insights with my readers.

If you have questions for Xin, please join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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Backup redesign: A top priority for IT managers (Part 2)

This is part 2 of a three-part conversation with Dr. Xin Wang, product manager for IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM).  In part 1, Xin discussed what she has learned about the challenges IT managers are facing leading to the backup redesign movement. Let’s continue the conversation:

The Line: So, first you mentioned that data is so big the old style of backup can’t keep up.

Xin: That’s right. For a long time, the primary method of capturing copies of data was to load a backup agent on a server, grab the copy and transfer it across some kind of network to a backup server for safe keeping. But data is getting too big for that. So today, we are helping clients redesign with a tool we call IBM Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager (FCM). The point of FCM is to bridge between the application that owns the data and the storage system that is housing the data so that IT managers can simply make snapshots where the data lives.

The Line: That may be new to some clients, but it seems things like FCM have been around for a while. What’s new?

Xin: You’re right. Snapshots have been around for a while and so has FCM. But the economic driver for redesigning backup environments so they use snapshots hasn’t been as strong as it is today.

The Line: Okay. How about the technical side? Snapshots are done differently on different storage devices. What storage infrastructures does FCM work with?

Xin: A lot is being made about the benefits of software defining your storage environment. One of the many benefits of that approach is that there is only one interface for snapshotting regardless of your choice in physical disk hardware. Move a workload from one kind of array to another, or even change vendors altogether, and your snapshot interface still stays the same. So:

IBM FlashCopy Manager in a Software Defined Storage environment

IBM FlashCopy Manager in a Software Defined Storage environment

If an IT manager chooses to continue working with native physical hardware, the support list is more specific.

  • For applications running on Windows, FCM still supports most any physical disk.
  • For applications running on Linux or Unix, FCM works with IBM and NetApp disk arrays.
  • Soon we plan to offer an open application programming interface (API) that will enable plugins for other physical disk arrays from vendors like EMC and Hitachi.

The Line: Nice! So let’s move to your second point, that VMware is causing IT managers to redesign their backup environment.

Xin: VMware has caused IT managers to redesign a lot of things. So much so that a lot of IT managers I talk with have had to prioritize. In many cases, backup redesign has been one of those things that has been put off until now.

The Line: What do you mean “until now”?

Xin: Again, it’s about economics. The number of workloads and amount of data in these VMware estates is reaching critical mass. IT managers who have plodded along simply loading a backup agent in each guest machine are feeling pain. We are helping IT managers redesign with a tool custom built for VMware— IBM TSM for Virtual Environments (TSM for VE). TSM for VE is already nicely integrated with the VMware API for Data Protection (VADP), meaning its full set of snapshot features is available to IT managers without deploying agents in every VM guest. Soon we plan to add some new and really powerful integration.

  • When restoring a virtual machine, the virtual machine disk (VMDK) will be instantly available for access the moment the restore starts. Verification can start right away, with no waiting around for data to be moved anywhere.
  • There’s new integration with the vCloud API to back up, manage and recover a vApp in vCloud Director.
  • When running workloads like Microsoft SQL Server or Exchange on VMware, there can be object or item level recovery without the need for an agent to back up the application VM.
  • There’s a richer set of administrative and reporting capabilities in the vCenter plug-in.
  • For FCM users, there is instant recovery of an entire VMware data store and coexistence with VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM).

Check back soon for part 3 of the interview in which Xin finishes sharing her near term plans for TSM and adds some closing thoughts. If you have questions for Xin, please join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Posted in Backup and Recovery, Software Defined Storage, VMware and storage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments