Archive for the 'EMC' Category

Information Reformation

I wrote the following article over a dozen years ago when I was a technology evangelist at Sun. Back in the mid-’90s, we were experiencing the early part of the first wave of “The Web.” Today, with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies we’re seeing an explosion in different dimensions. Wikis, social networking, mass collaboration, blogging, and Instant Messaging have expanded what was largely reader-oriented” phenomenon into a dynamic read-write participatory platform. While the mantle of managing information has passed to a new generation of companies, the basic principles about information production and exponential growth remain the same.

On a related note, today celebrates the 40th anniversary of the first message sent across the Internet.

barilan_internet_thumb.jpgINFORMATION REFORMATION

Every October 31, we observe the anniversary of the German Reformation. Presently, there is a lot of talk about the Internet Explosion. There are several significant similarities between the two.

Indeed, one could call it the “Information Reformation.”


1) Common Language:

  • Luther made previously exclusive information accessible to the common man by publishing in the common language (German), not the language of scholars (Latin).
  • With the aid of graphical tools like Mosaic, Netscape or the HotJava browsers (a Java-based browser from Sun), anyone can easily read the Internet and discover new information without knowing classical Geek.

2) Common Format:

  • Luther published pamphlets, extending the existing single page “broadside” to multiple pages in quarto and octavo sizes. He featured pictures using the finest woodcuts and engravings of the times.
  • Graphical Web browsers that take advantage of open, standard HTML make information pictorial and, with advanced Java capabilities, dynamic, and multimedia.

3) Mass Distribution:

  • Gutenberg printing pressLuther’s 95 Theses, with the aid of the movable type printing press, invented a few decades before his birth, were distributed to the masses. Within two weeks, it had spread throughout Germany. Within a month, it was all over Europe. By the end of the year, it had spread beyond the Holy Roman Empire.
  • With the availability of interconnected computer networks, like those offered by Sun, information is quickly distributed all over the World Wide Web.

4) Unprecedented Growth:

  • Between 1517 and 1523, publications in Germany increased 7 times. Half were Luther’s writings.
  • The growth of the Internet and the availability of information on the Web has grown phenomenally, with a growth curve that appears almost biological.

5) Broadcast Marketing

  • Luther took advantage of the new printing press to “evangelize” his views on theology and detract from his competitors with his pamphlets.
  • Many companies, organizations, and individuals now take advantage of Internet home pages to “market” and promote their product, offerings, and views.


Wittenberg DoorIn the 16th century, as a result of a dispute concerning certain Church practices, a German University professor posted a call for debate on their equivalent of a bulletin board, the door of the Castle Church. These 95 Theses were not intended as a call to reformation but a quiet, scholarly discussion of theological issues.

So it was, on October 31, 1517, that this 33 year old Augustinian monk named Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Door, marking what historians conveniently use as a coat hanger for the beginning of the Reformation.

But it was two significant things that changed history: first, one of Luther’s friends took the original Latin 95 Theses and translated them into German, the language of the common man. Now they were available to anyone who could read.

Secondly, with the aid of the movable type printing press, invented not far away in Mainz by Gutenberg toward the end of the previous century, copies were distributed to the masses. It became a veritable manifesto for change.

Thus it is with the spread of the Internet. So one could say we’re currently experiencing more than an Internet Explosion or Revolution, but an Information Reformation.

Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian

© Bill Petro – visit for more great content.


Cloud OS: VMware vSphere 4 Launches


This week, VMware upgraded its main product line VMware Infrastructure 3, to deliver IT infrastructure as a service internally.

SaaS, or “Software as a Service” is a term often seen in discussions of Cloud Computing, where these services are offered remotely from data centers over the Web. With vSphere, companies can now do this internally as well. VMware is calling it “the industry’s first operating system for building the internal cloud.”

vSphere was foreshadowed with the announcement of  VDC-OS (Virtual Data Center Operating System) last Summer at the Las Vegas VMworld Conference, as I wrote about here.

Virtualization is a disruptive technology of sorts, in that it breaks the “hard link” between hardware and software, or more specifically between the Operating System and hardware. A VMware virtual machine (VM) can create an OS that is essentially hardware vendor independent — as long as it runs on x86 processors — and encapsulate it to run on any number of platforms. Indeed multiple OS instantiations can run on a single physical server. The impact of this is phenomenal: it can undermine the value proposition of an “integrated” solution from some server vendors. In this way, it can reduce capital and operating expenditures, even as information explodes.

There are several capabilities of this new release that are impressive. Here are the ones that caught my eye:


  • 8000 DB transactions per second per virtual machine. Can you say OLTP?
  • Over 200,000 IOPS per ESX host. Can you say Ultra Enterprise Sun IBM “Oracle”-Fire 15000 High Performance Computing? [I launched the StarFire 10000 when I was at Sun.]


  • Ability to control an entire virtual data center from a single pane of glass. VMware calls this the ability to “holistically manage” infrastructure elements.
  • Access to the Cisco Nexus 1000v “virtual switch.”


  • Storage VMotion permits moving the VM from where it lives — on the storage — to other kinds of storage as needs require. This would allow migrating for example, from expensive Fibre Channel disk drives to less expensive SAS drives, or even changing storage protocols.
  • Fault Tolerance permits a “ghost” version of a VM to run on another physical server, in “lock step” but invisibly, such that should the original VM or server fail, the fault tolerant version will immediately become available on the second server.

Thanks for coming along.

Cloud Optimized Storage: Atmos

In 1969 during the original Star Trek TV show, The Cloud Minders episode featured Stratos, a city in the clouds. Today, EMC launches Atmos, cloud optimized storage. This is not science fiction, but the realization of much work on managing very large amounts of data “in the cloud.” Having been in the hands of customers since early Summer, this offering is intended to manage massive amounts of Internet-based information. How massive? Petabytes to begin with.

Forecast: Cloudy?

“Cloud computing” is a very popular topic right now, and there is often more heat than light shed on the subject. EMC releases Atmos at a time when many others are still debating over cloud computing and arguing whether it is or is not grid computing, software as a service, outsourcing, or Web 2.0-based data.

The Atmos sphere

What does Atmos encompass? First, it is different than simply block-based Storage Area Networks (SAN), file-based Network Accessed Storage (NAS), or even object-based Content Addressed Storage (CAS). EMC introduced CAS in the Spring of 2002 with the launch of Centera, part of an object-based archiving and compliance solution. As revolutionary as this was half a decade ago, so too is COS today.

  • Massive Scalability

Global manageability through a namespace, regardless of geographical location. Multi-tenancy means that different tenants could store their unique information objects in their own private namespace under the Atmos namespace.

  • Policy Based Information Management

Information can be managed by policy, and automatically acted upon by business rules for the metadata that defines the policy. For example, if an object conforms to a policy of “popular”, it could be replicated appropriately to deliver better service levels to users. When demand drops off and it becomes less “popular” the number of copies could be automatically pruned.

  • Operational Efficiency

Whether it’s a drive, server, or network — all of this can be seen and managed from a single console.


There are many excellent articles available already that explain this in greater detail. Check out Chuck Hollis at Chuck’s Blog, Mark Twomey at Storagezilla, Steve Todd at Information Playground, Dave Spencer at Dave Talks Shop, Dave Graham at Dave Graham’s Weblog, and Len Devanna’s summary.

Thanks for coming along.

CLARiiON co-stars in Body of Lies

Last week I saw the new Ridley Scott spy thriller Body of Lies. Scott has made a number of movies in recent years starring Academy Award winner Russell Crowe, including Gladiator, A Good Year, and American Gangster. In this film Crowe co-stars with Leonardo DiCaprio, and additional co-stars who are even more flashy.

EMC loaned Warner Brothers six Symmetrix DMX-3 and nine CLARiiON systems. These were featured in a particularly intense negotiation scene in the film, situated in the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan. The arrays were originally configured to be be fully working, but proved to be too loud for the sound man on the set. So instead, the systems were “powered” with LEDs behind their bezels to light up the display and drop lights to illuminate the fronts. Ridley Scott liked to look of the EMC systems and in the scene above, during a very tense phone conversation you can see the colorful systems, the co-stars behind the stars.

Information Growing Exponentially

Exponential GrowthWhy Info Exponential? Because information is growing faster right now than it ever has in history.

Much of it is coming from so called “end users” like you and me. IDC estimates 70% will come from individual creation by 2010. Personally, I create a data wake, or digital footprint of about 10 gigabytes a day — including all my emails, digital photos, TV DVR recordings, cell phone usage, Internet use and “click stream”, even pictures of me by airport surveillance cameras. That can add up. How fast? This counter below shows how much information I’ve created directly or indirectly since the beginning of the year:

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But this is just me. Consider the wider population and their contribution to the “digital shadow.” What if you add all of them up? IDC calculated that in 2007 the digital shadow was about 281 exabytes or 281 billion gigabytes. This counter shows the current results:

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Would you like to calculate your digital shadow? Check out the personal digital footprint calculator at EMC’s website here.

But this growth is not just incremental, it’s accelerating. There is a group of people who Gartner Research calls “Generation Virtual.” Unlike previous generations, who are usually defined by age, Generation V, regardless of:

gender, social demographic or geography … demonstrated achievement, accomplishments and an increasing preference for the use of digital media channels to discover information, build knowledge and share insights.

This generation is growing, and changing. My own use, consumption, and generation of information has changed, even over the last few years.

2003I recall a research project conducted at the University of California, Berkeley and sponsored by EMC Corporation — just five years ago — that concluded the following:

  • The amount of new information stored on paper, film, optical and magnetic media reached about five exabytes – or 5 million terabytes – in 2002, compared to about half that in 1999.
  • Some 92 percent of new information is stored on magnetic media, primarily hard drives.
  • New information flowing electronically on radio, television and the Internet in 2002 totaled nearly 18 exabytes.
  • The phone accounts for the largest percentage of information flow, with e-mail placing second.
  • While original information on paper continues to grow, most comes in the form of office documents and mail – not books, newspapers and journals.
  • Worldwide production of books increased by 2 percent in the last year.
  • Production of newspapers in the last year decreased by 2 percent.
  • The United States produces 35 percent of all print material, 40 percent of the images and more than half of the digitally stored material.
  • Peer-to-peer file sharing has exploded, and MP3 music files and digital video accounted for 70 percent of the files on the hard disks of users who participate in online file exchanges.
  • Globally, the average Internet user spends 11.5 hours online per month, but the average Internet user in the United States spends more than twice that amount.

Remember, this information is 5 years old!

This blog intends to cover subjects that address the phenomenon of exponentially explosive information growth, and EMC‘s leadership role in addressing it.

Welcome aboard, and fasten your seat belt low and tight across your lap.