Does trying to find a better economic approach to storage give you “Butterflies”? (Part 2)

Bright Blue and Black Butterfly 6061480This is the conclusion of a two part conversation with Liam Devine, the global post-sales face of Butterfly. In Part 1, we talked about Butterfly’s unique approach to storage infrastructure analytics and how Butterfly came to be an IBM company.

The Line: It’s been a couple of years since 2011, and you have had the opportunity to both analyze a lot of data and have a number of conversations with financial decision makers. What have you found to be the most compelling talking points?

Liam: The most compelling stuff comes from the data. We’ve analyzed hundreds of different infrastructures in most every conceivable configuration and have discovered some extraordinary things about software defining storage and IBM’s approach to backup.

  • When compared to an as-is physical storage environment, transforming to a software-defined storage environment with something like IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center, the economic outlook can be, on average, 63% more efficient. That’s the average, your results may vary. (Editorial comment: in one of my posts from IBM Edge 2013 I talked about LPL Financial who followed the recommendations of a Butterfly Storage AER and saved an astounding 47% in total infrastructure. Listen to Chris Peek, Senior Vice President of IT at LPL Financial. )
  • When compared to as-is competitive backup environments, transforming to an IBM Tivoli Storage Manager approach can be, on average, 38% more efficient. Again, your results may vary. [Modified: For example, when we segment just the mass of Backup AER results from as-is Symantec NetBackup or CommVault Simpana or EMC NetWorker environments, each shows that transformation to a TSM approach produces different, and in these cases at least, somewhat stronger economic savings.] We’ve got data by industry and for many other competitive backup approaches but you get the picture. Choosing a TSM approach can save money.

Business Graph 13296111The Line:  For my readers, the Butterfly team had discovered most of these trends before IBM acquired them. As I noted above, that had a lot to do with IBMs interest in the company. [Modified: Now that IBM owns Butterfly, they have been quick to add legal disclaimers around anything that might be construed as a competitive claim*.]

Now Liam, switching back to you. Butterfly has been part of IBM for about 11 months. How has the transition been?

Liam: Very successful and pretty much as I had expected. We had a few minor technical hic-cups in switching infrastructure (freeware and open source components to a more IBM standard architecture), as you would expect, but those hic-ups are behind us now. The global IBM sales force and Business Partner community has created a lot more demand for our analytics so we are busy scaling out our delivery capability.  The good news is that we’re meeting our business goals.

The Line: Can you give us an idea of what you and the team are working on next?

Liam: Right, well we’re working on a couple of important things. First is an automated “self-service” AER generation model that will enable us to scale out further still and present the AER’s as a service to IBM and its Business Partners. And second, as you can imagine, the data driven AER reports are causing a lot of IT managers to rethink their infrastructure and begin transitioning to a new software defined approach. We are continuing to refine our migration automation to assist clients with the transition, especially between backup approaches.

The Line: Before ending, I have to ask about your Twitter handle @keydellkop. What’s the story?

Liam: Hmmm, bit of strange explanation here I am afraid to say, it’s more a play on words. I see much of life being a set of confused circumstances that can be placed into an ultimate order. This reminds me of the Keystone Kops. On that theme, I reside in an area called Keydell in the south of England and being a manic Liverpool supporter, you get The Kop (the famous Liverpool stand at the Anfield stadium) – Hence @KeydellKop. All tweets are my own covering such subjects as Information Protection, Liverpool Football Club, life in general with a smidge of humor thrown in where appropriate.

The Line: Liam, thank you for spending a few minutes with me and sharing your story with my readers.

If you have questions for Liam, please join the conversation below.

* Backup Analysis Engine Reports from >1.5Exabytes data analyzed by Butterfly Software.  Savings are the average of individual customer Analysis Engine Reports from Butterfly Software, May 2013, n+450.  The savings include cumulative 36-month hardware, hardware maintenance, and electrical power savings.  Excludes one-time TSM migration cost.  All client examples cited or described are presented as illustrations of the manner in which some clients have used IBM products and the results they have achieved.  Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual client configurations and conditions.  Contact IBM to see what we can do for you.

Does trying to find a better economic approach to storage give you “Butterflies”? (Part 1)

Financial Belt Tightening 8595689Recently there has been a lot of talk coming out of IBM about the economics of storage. In fact, all of my top 5 observations from IBM Edge 2013 had something to do with economics. Sure, technology advancements are still important, but increasingly what CIO’s are chasing is a clear understanding of the economic benefits a new technology approach can bring.

Monarch butterflyLate last year IBM acquired Butterfly Software, a small company in the United Kingdom who had developed some BIG thoughts around communicating the economic benefits brought by certain approaches to storage. Butterfly has developed what they call an Analysis Engine Report (AER) that follows a straight forward thought process.

  1. Using a very light weight collector, gather real data about the existing storage infrastructure at a potential customer.
  2. Using that data, explain in good detail what the as-is effectiveness of the environment is and what costs will look like in five years time if the customer continues on the current approach.
  3. Show what a transformed storage infrastructure would look like compared to the as-is approach, and more importantly what future costs could look like compared to continuing as-is.

Butterfly has two flavors of AER’s, one for primary storage infrastructure and one for copy data (or backup) infrastructure. They have analyzed some 850 different infrastructures scattered across every industry in most parts of the world and comprising over 2 exabytes of data. In all that analysis, they have discovered some remarkable things about IBM’s ability to transform the economic future of storage for its clients. (Editorial comment: the results probably have something to do with why IBM acquired the company).

Butterfly AER

I was able to catch up with the global post-sales face of Butterfly, Liam Devine, to talk about the company and where he sees the storage economics conversation going (see if you can hear his distinctly British accent come through).

The Line: Liam, let’s start with a little background for my readers. You’ve been a systems and storage manager, consulted for some pretty impressive companies in finance and healthcare and even spent a little time at vendors like NEC and EMC.

Liam: That’s right. I’ve had the pleasure of holding numerous IT roles in a variety of interesting companies for some 14 years previous to moving over to The Dark Side or vendor land, where I have been this past 12 years. The majority of that time spent at EMC in two stints, first supporting financial customers and second supporting Electronic Data Systems (EDS – now HP Enterprise Services).

The Line: Okay, so rewind us back to 2011. What was the motivation for joining Butterfly Software?

Liam: Everything is becoming software defined. Compute is ahead of storage, but storage is accelerating quickly. The reasons are rooted in economics. I became aware of this Butterfly company who were creating unique analytics to help communicate the economic value of shifting from traditional storage infrastructure approaches to more software oriented approaches. Once I had spoken to the founders and understood their strategic vision encompassing both primary storage infrastructure and data, there was no where else I wanted to be.

Check back soon for Part 2 of the interview as Liam shares some of the extraordinary savings that Butterfly analytics have uncovered.

For corporate BYOD, does Sync/Share equal Backup?

Last December while attending the 2012 Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas, I listened to an insightful presentation by analysts Sheila Childs and Pushan Rinnen on the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon. They were particularly focused on issues related to protecting an organizations data in a BYOD world (more on why in a moment). One scenario that captured my attention went something like this.

BYOD Mobile Sync and Share 3It’s my device. I had it before I brought it to work and I was using Dropbox or iCloud to sync and share all my files. Now, my device has work data on it too. My security-conscious CIO doesn’t want work data shared on those public services. But I’m accustomed to, and almost dependent on my sync and share capability and my organization hasn’t yet given us a private alternative.

Now, in my roles as a technology strategist I spend a good bit of time helping to plan our investments. With the speed at which mobile and social technologies are sweeping through organizations, I have to admit the case that Sheila, Pushan and other Gartner analysts made that week for the rapidly emerging data protection crisis in BYOD sync and share was compelling. It occurred to me that credible vendors who were able to solve the problem in short order would be in high demand. That was eight months ago.

Fast forward seven months

Infinity time spiral 15267876In July, Forrester analysts Ted Schadler and Rob Koplowitz published The Forrester Wave™: File Sync And Share Platforms, Q3 2013 in a quest to uncover those credible vendors. I liked the way they characterized the problem. “Employees’ need to synchronize files grew from a whisper to a scream over the past few years. . . .The scream will grow louder as the number of tablets will triple to 905 million by 2017 to join the billions of computers and smartphones used for work.” The report evaluated and scored 16 of the most significant solution providers against 26 criteria. Among the leaders was IBM SmartCloud Connections. You can see the complete list of leaders here.

Change is here

change aheadThe interesting thing that most folks miss in the sync and share conversation is – it’s about more than just syncing and sharing. As BYOD smartphones and tablets begin to proliferate the workplace, document management will shift from email attachments and file servers into social collaboration. Forrester points to a further social shift from casual partner collaboration to compliant workflow in regulated industries.
That kind of data is important – and the reason that the Gartner analysts were focused on the data protection issues of this BYOD world. Organizations today have well matured processes for protecting data on file servers and email systems, usually with an enterprise backup product. I commented on this set of tools in my post on Forrester’s Take on Enterprise Backup and Recovery.  But as corporate information is relocated from file servers and email systems to sync and share systems, Gartner had an unmistakable reminder for its customers, Consumer File Sync/Share Is Not Backup.

Check mark 18728815I agree! The good news is that IBM has taken the time to ensure its enterprise backup product, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery, protects synched and shared files in IBM Connections with all the same efficiency it does file servers, email systems and most any other data important to an organization.

What is your organization doing with file sync and share? How are you protecting that information?

Happy Anniversary!

It was a Friday night like most others. I was a student at Texas A&M University and my brain was ready for a little weekend rest. I was meeting some friends for a pizza…and there she was. I know that to say it was love at first sight sounds a little cliché, but I have not had a single date with anyone else since that night. That was almost 32 years ago.

happy anniversaryThis week, my beautiful wife and I will celebrate our 28th anniversary. I’m happy to admit that I’m still very much in love – no doubt about it. With the moral climate what it is in the world today, some would say that by making it this far, we’ve beaten the odds. That may be true, but I’m convinced that there are a few beliefs and habits we have that have contributed to the strength of our relationship.

  • The foundation of our relationship and marriage is a shared trust in the Savior and a belief that we are fused together. We don’t exist as an individuals any more.
  • Watch a TV show or movie, scan the news, or just look at the magazine covers in the grocery store checkout line and you’ll know that marriage relationships are under attack. Having your eyes open to the fact that you are under attack is a great first defensive move.
  • Nobody leaves the house in the morning before we pray together.
  • Arguments get resolved before going to bed. I’ll admit this habit can lead to some late nights. But the upside is that no disagreement or hurt is ever given a chance to take root and grow into something too large to deal with.
  • Nobody goes to bed at night before we pray together.
  • If we are within arm’s length of each other when we pray, we are holding hands. It’s purely symbolic of the fact that we are united, fused. And I’ll tell you, it’s REALLY hard to hold someone’s hand and bow your head to talk to your Creator if there is anything broken between you. This habit has caused me to pause and say I’m sorry a number of times.

So there you have it. Nothing magical. Just a set of habits that have stayed consistent for 28 years.

To my sweet wife, I’ve kinda gotten in the habit of loving you. I’m looking forward to continuing that habit for the rest of my life. Happy anniversary my love!

IBM at VMworld 2013: Making heroes of VMware admins and SQL Server DBAs

In the modern datacenter, there’s a lot of shifting going on when it comes to traditional storage management responsibilities. What used to be the domain of a central storage and backup administration team has been thrown up for grabs as server virtualization and software defined everything have entered the scene. I hinted at this a bit in my post Do IT managers really “manage” storage anymore? But let’s consider a practical example that’s quite common with clients I speak to. If you are going to VMworld 2013, plan on attending the IBM TSM for VE hands-on lab to get more details.

Microsoft SQL Server is the foundation for a lot of applications that are critical to business operation – meaning CIO’s and IT managers are interested in its recoverability. Those same CIO’s and IT managers are also interested in the recoverability of their VMware estates, the software defined compute (SDC) platform that houses those databases. For many clients, the problem is that these two domains are tightly guarded by two independent superheroes, and neither is specifically trained in storage.

Superhero #1: The database administrator (DBA)

VMware and SQL Server superheroMost DBAs that I’ve known have an almost personal connection with their databases. They care for them as they would their own children. The thought of leaving one unprotected (without a backup) equates to dereliction of duty. Ignoring the idea that it takes a village to raise a child (or in this case that there may be other members of the IT administration village like VMware admins and backup admins), SQL Server DBAs will often work alone with the backup tools Microsoft provides to ensure their databases are protected. Good for the SQL Server, but not so much for the surrounding infrastructure.  For databases running on VMware, routine full backups even with periodic differential backups can consume a LOT of disk space and virtual compute resources, and also contribute to the I/O blender effect.

Superhero #2: The VMware administrator

TSM for VE in VMware vSphere web client
TSM for VE in VMware vSphere web client

VMware administrators can be just as focused on their domain as DBAs are. Their attention is on being able to recover persistent or critical virtual machine (VM) images, regardless of what app happens to be riding along. VMware has done a nice job of creating and supporting an industry of tightly integrated backup providers. These tools can get at the VMware data through a set of vStorage API’s for Data Protection (VADP) and VMware administrators can manage them through vCenter plug-ins. But few VMware admins are completely aware of all the workloads that run on their VMs and even less aware of the unique recovery needs of all those workloads. It’s just hard to keep up.

Common ground exists

One tool that bridges the gap is IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments (TSM for VE). Nicely integrated with both VADP and SQL Server, TSM for VE can bring together VMware administrators and the DBAs in ways that would make any IT manager smile. Here are two of the more common approaches.

We can each do our own thing – together

As noted above, SQL Server DBAs take full backups sprinkled with differentials. Even though this approach can tax server and storage resources, and contribute to the I/O blender effect, it is in the DBA comfort zone. When the app is running on a VMware virtual machine, the DBA has the option of storing those backups on disk storage associated with the VM. It’s a nice thing to do because it allows the VMware admin to stay within his comfort zone too. Using vCenter to drive a VADP integrated snapshot tool like TSM for VE, the VMware admin can capture a complete copy of the virtual machine, along with the SQL Server backups the DBA created. Since the likely use of such a snapshot would be to recover the VM and then recover the database from its backup, there’s really not a reason to include the source SQL Server database or logs in the snapshot. With TSM for VE, the VMware admin can exclude the source SQL Server database from being redundantly backed up adding to an already formidable set of built-in efficiency techniques (with TSM for VE, snapshots are taken incrementally – forever, and can be deduplicated and compressed).  It’s a good compromise solution letting each admin stay in his or her comfort zone. But it can be better.

We can join forces and do something really great

VMware and SQL Server superhero togetherWith TSM for VE, VMware admins and SQL Server DBAs can put their heads together and choose to do something really great. For the DBA, it’s an exercise in less-is-more. The DBA stops doing her own backups. No more full or differential copies of the database. No more taxing resource usage on the VM. No more I/O blender effect. Just, no more. How? Well, with a VMware VADP integrated backup tool like TSM for VE, the snapshot of the VM is accompanied by a freeze and thaw of the SQL Server database (techno-speak for putting the database in a consistent state), just like what happens when a backup is independently initiated by a DBA. And with TSM for VE, as soon as the TSM server confirms that it has successfully stored the consistent snapshot in a safe, physically separate place, it will connect back with the SQL Server to truncate the database logs.

In addition to the less-is-more benefits above, think about the differences in restore with these two scenarios. When the DBA and VMware admin simply coexist, each doing their own thing, restoring the SQL Server database includes steps for restoring:

  • The VM snapshot to get the database backups in place
  • The full database backup
  • The subsequent differential backups

By comparison, when the DBA and the VMware admin join forces with TSM for VE, the steps are dramatically simplified. Restoring the snapshot equates to restoring a consistent copy of the database.  And remember, because these snapshots are highly efficient, they can be taken quite frequently.

Superhero indeed!

Going to VMworld 2013? Come visit IBM on the Solutions Exchange floor at booth #1545.

IBM at VMworld 2013: Optimization, Backup, …

VMworld 2013 is just around the corner and at IBM, we’re gearing up for a great set of conversations with our joint clients. As you’re planning your agenda, here are a couple of things worth looking in to.

Virtualization Optimization

IBM has a lot of expertise to share when it comes to optimizing virtual environments. AIBM Virtualization Optimization few weeks ago in my Outside the Line – an interview on Virtualization optimization post, I was able to catch up with several of the experts who are leading this work. At VMworld, IBM will be showcasing these solutions on the Solutions Exchange floor at booth #1545.

VMware Backup

TSM for VE in VMware vSphere web client
TSM for VE in VMware vSphere web client

IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments (TSM for VE) is one of the mostefficient backup integrations that have been done with the VMware vStorage API’s for Data Protection (VADP). I offered some quick insights in my post VMware backup for the iPOD generation. At VMworld 2013, you’ll have an opportunity to take a test drive in the TSM for VE hands-on lab.

Are you going to VMworld? What are you most looking forward to?