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Elisabeth Stahl on Benchmarking and IT Optimization

What’s In Your Bag?

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With summer just beginning in this part of the world, vacations are on everyone’s mind. And for me, that means hiking.

I actually have a list of everything that should go into my hiking knapsack. It’s written on a scrap of an old envelope and was first used prior to my going up Mount Washington. Here’s what’s on it:

  1. The Electronics: compass, map, phone, headlamp
  2. The Emergency Food: trail mix and granola bars, extra water
  3. The Moleskin: for my big right toe
  4. The Defense: bear spray and pocket knife
  5. The Sweater: my old gray cashmere with the big holes
  6. The Support: my hiking poles
  7. Just In Case: bug net, bandages, extra wool socks, hat, gloves, rain pants and long underwear
  8. If I Get in Trouble: whistle and waterproof matches
  9. The Drug of Choice: Motrin — for my back
  10. May be needed at the end: After Bite and the hot tub

Without these, I’d be lost. Literally. Maybe even worse.

And I was reminded the other day that the same type of preparation I use for my hiking trips is imperative when preparing my laptop bag for a business meeting.

And I realized that in the end I bring pretty much the same stuff.

  1. The Electronics: chargers, pointers, batteries
  2. The Emergency Food: cereal bars and pretzels, in case they don’t feed you
  3. The Moleskin: calendar that is – to schedule the next meeting
  4. The Defense: quick wit and verbal barbs
  5. The Sweater: my nice black cashmere, for when the air conditioning blows
  6. The Support: list of other subject matter experts
  7. Just In Case: the cheat sheet with the latest POWER8 news, the titles of who will be at the meeting, and the fun-to-read magazine because you never know when you are going to have to wait
  8. If I Get in Trouble: AAA or American Express Travel
  9. The Drug of Choice: Motrin — for my head
  10. May be needed at the end: drink in the hot tub

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The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

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June 25, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Will the Real Benchmark Please Stand Up

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They are at it once again. Those imposter benchmarks.

You know. The ones that initially look and feel like real IT industry performance benchmarks.

But then you read the article again, you look a bit more closely and you realize. They are at it again.

So how can we detect and overcome this benchmark fraud ?

  • Make sure the names of the actual benchmarks are clearly stated. You know, something with letters like TPC, SPEC, SAP, STAC, . . .
  • Make sure the metrics are correct. You know, something like transactions per minute or number of users.
  • Make sure there’s a really good footnote with all the details. Just the data is not enough.
  • Make sure there is a link to the site about the benchmark and preferably the results.
  • Make sure that if you sense an imposter benchmark, find REAL data on the systems you are interested in. At an official benchmark or vendor site.  Or run the real workload as a client benchmark.

If you’re not seeing these things, very likely it is some obscure testing that may or may not have a proper benchmark kit, audited results, etc. And it may very likely be artificially tuned to exploit only certain hardware or software that the imposter is looking to promote.

An industry benchmark masquerader that is actually a tried and true swindler.

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The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

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June 4, 2015 at 6:31 pm

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World Peace . . . and Cloud

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I was reading an article in the paper this morning on reactions to the riots and looting in the city of Baltimore. And one point struck me – citizens of nearby neighborhoods seemed at a loss for what they could do to help their poverty-stricken neighbors. The comments the journalist kept hearing over and over again were essentially — Yes, but what can I do ?

Sometimes it’s hard to go from thinking about big problems strategically to tactical methods with concrete steps.

And that reminded me of something I’ve been seeing in IT lately, specifically in the area of transforming a system to a cloud.

A lot of us get hung up on the long term strategic big ideas, dreams, and wishes for our infrastructure. In 10 years I want to be able to . . . I envision a world where our data . . . In the future I will connect this system to . . . I will manage and control and orchestrate — someday.

In reality, we can get started on our dreams with 3 simple steps:

  • 1. Understand the Roadmaps for hardware and software on your current system and any new products being considered – What is supported now and in the future?
  • 2. Determine which hardware and software in your environment is appropriate to contain in your private Cloud.
  • 3. Create your private Cloud management system to MANAGE your infrastructure by either employing a tool such as IBM Power Virtualization Center (PowerVC) or creating an OpenStack tool of your own. Use this system to manage your compute (creating LPARs…), storage (managing SAN…), and network (allocating LUNs…) infrastructure. Start right now.

Now you have your private cloud and can consider some advanced steps:

  • Adopt a Cloud CONTROL and project management system such as IBM Cloud Manager with OpenStack for a self-service portal to create accounts and assets with a single pane of glass.
  • Consider implementing advanced ORCHESTRATION with a tool such as IBM Cloud Orchestrator to provide the capability of facilitating more complex workloads necessary to deploy reusable pattern solutions and take advantage of libraries associated with deploying more advanced cloud capabilities.

Then you are on your way with a sophisticated private cloud environment. Connect these systems of record and insight to your systems of engagement, potentially in the public cloud space, and you now have a full Hybrid environment.

As for Baltimore, it’s amazing to me that people seem to think they need to do everything or do nothing. Every little thing can help. Work with a student who can’t read. Donate some time or assets to a non-profit. It doesn’t have to be that hard.

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The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

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May 5, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Posted in Cloud

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My Washing Machine and 5 Myths on Cloud

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It was finally time. My clothes washer had been shaking for months. I actually resorted to running everything on Delicate. Tried to fix it. Put rubber pads under it. And then it finally danced off across the floor. And stopped.

Like many appliances, when you look at new washers there are so many things to compare. Front loader vs. top loader? Regular vs. High Efficiency? Agitator or not?

Of course I went to social media to get the 411. And what I found is that many consumers love a certain brand or model. Or hate it. And there is altogether too much customer sentiment on minor features that you may not even care about. Like lid locks.

Lid locks keep you from opening the washer easily to add more clothes. Something I never do. And something I really don’t care about. But it seems that some people really care an awful lot about lid locks. The point is – should I make my decision based solely on this narrow view?

And that’s what I have been seeing lately on Cloud. Like taking a narrow view of infrastructure platforms. Like limiting cloud scope to virtual public cloud only. Like forgetting that Cloud should be tactical and strategic, where performance, security, and compliance are key.

Here are 5 myths I’ve seen:

  • Cloud means only infrastructure. FALSE. Don’t forget software and business applications via the Cloud, a whole Marketplace.
  • Cloud means only public cloud. FALSE.  As we know, public cloud is a great enabler but on-premise private platforms are imperative for critical business systems of record.
  • Cloud means x86. Or AWS. Or Azure. Or . . . FALSE. Higher-end systems such as Power Systems and System z are of course leaders in private on-premise cloud. Power is also an outstanding choice on the public side, via SoftLayer or Cloud Managed Services.
  • Cloud means cheap public virtualized cloud. FALSE. Do the math. Some public cloud options can initially look inexpensive – but watch the hidden costs. Check out what it costs to actually access or move data. You may be surprised by the TCO you calculate.
  • Cloud means good for everything. FALSE. Match your workloads to the best technologies. Public cloud is not right for everything. Private cloud is not right for everything. Cloud is not even right for everything.

Make sure to focus on the full scope of cloud infrastructure platforms, the numerous choices offered, and the full suite of IBM’s cloud portfolio, on-premise and off-premise.

In the end, my new washing machine had a lid lock. But only because it happened to come with one.

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The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

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April 2, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Posted in Cloud

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And the Oscar Goes to . . . IBM

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It seems as if just a few years ago I actually used to get excited about the big night. The big night that was last night, the 87th Academy Awards. I used to watch with friends, with family. I even went to an awards party once.

In the past I even saw the movies that won — before they won.

And I think that’s how some of us have been feeling lately about industry standard performance benchmarks. Remember the good old days of leapfrogging? Of vicious ads and blogs? Of fights over TPC-C?

But recently I was super impressed with a brand new IBM publish last week of the SPECjEnterprise2010 benchmark. SPECjEnterprise2010 emulates an automobile dealership, manufacturing, supply chain management and order/inventory system and was designed to stress the Java EE application server. It’s an excellent measure of middleware.

The new IBM result running WebSphere and DB2 was the best Intel “Haswell” EP result, over 31% greater per core than the just published Oracle result with WebLogic.(1) And of course, the flagship IBM POWER8 result is the #1 per core result in the industry, over 79% greater per core than the new Oracle x86 result.(2)

At least I still have the passion for benchmarks. Because nowadays my interest in the Academy Awards pretty much revolves around a few dresses on the red carpet. And I can get that not by staying up all night but with a couple of photos online the next morning.

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The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

(1) 36-core(2×18-core Processor) Oracle Server X5-2, WL 12.1.3 – 18800.76 SPECjEnterprise2010 EjOPS, 522.24 EjOPS per app core. 28-core(2×14-core processors) IBM System x3650 M5 Lenovo Server, WAS 8.5.5.4, DB2 10.5 – 19282.14 EjOPS, 688.65 EjOPS/core.
(2) 24-core IBM Power S824 (3.52 GHz) db running DB2 10.5 / 24-core IBM Power S824 (3.52 GHz) app running WebSphere 8.5, SPECjEnterprise2010 (22,543 Enterprise jAppServer Operations Per Second (EjOPS), 939EjOPS/core) .

Source: http://www.spec.org. All results current as of 2/23/15.

Oracle and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

SPEC, SPECint, SPECfp, SPECjbb, SPECweb, SPECjAppServer, SPECjEnterprise, SPECjvm, SPECvirt, SPECompM, SPECompL, SPECsfs, SPECpower, SPEC MPI and SPECpower_ssj are trademarks of the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC).

TPC-C ,TPC-H, and TPC-E are trademarks of the Transaction Performance Processing Council (TPPC).

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February 23, 2015 at 9:41 am

Would You Let Amazon Mow Your Lawn?

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I mow my own lawn. Yet I have a service that plows my driveway when it snows. And that’s basically all you need to know when you think about cloud.

Many of us have already embraced the advantages of running workloads in a cloud environment — things that matter like efficiency, flexibility, manageability, and cost effectiveness. But now the question is — What do I need to think about in the private on-premise vs. public off-premise vs. everything-in-between cloud decision?

Here are three key indicators:

  • Security – Many cloud enabled systems will thrive in a public environment. But there are certain workloads that you really may want to keep on-premise – like Financials, as an example. Only you know how to handle the mower around that priceless Yoshino cherry tree.
  • Performance – For extreme performance, especially with critical peaks, you may really want to tune on-premise or have the ability to tune in a dedicated environment. When there’s a blizzard, the snowplow service just doesn’t do it fast enough. And I end up out there with my shovel anyway.
  • Cost – Make sure when you map out your total cost of ownership you count in everything. For example, some public cloud vendors initially look very cheap when you are putting data into their cloud — but transferring or moving data out is another extremely expensive story. The acquisition of a mower may initially look expensive but pay off in just a short time. On the other hand, all it takes is one sore back to change that equation.

The goal really is to get the best of all worlds for your applications. Sometimes the answer isn’t simple. That’s where IBM can really help as the hybrid IT leader. IBM on-prem private clouds backed by technology that you know and love like POWER8, the recently announced z13, and the brand new IBM Spectrum Storage are awesome. But IBM also provides public off premise environment options with SoftLayer and IBM Cloud Managed Services that clearly demonstrate both on-premise and off-premise advantages.

Merge the best of all worlds in a hybrid environment. I know for me that means taking the mower out on a beautiful warm sunny day, getting the yard to look exactly like I want it, and then when it’s done having a cold one next to the hot dogs on the grill.

And let the other guys move all that white stuff.

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The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

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February 19, 2015 at 11:33 am

Posted in Cloud

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What You Need to Know About Hybrid Cloud: It’s all ’bout that base

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Long, long, long ago, we all took Chemistry. One of my absolutely favorite parts of chemistry was the lab — getting liquids and gases to change colors. And seeing the pH scale in action.

The pH scale measures how acidic or basic a substance is. It ranges from 0 to 14. A pH less than 7 is acidic, and a pH greater than 7 is basic. (Side: If you are not enjoying this analogy, think politics and the political spectrum and where someone may stand on say, immigration.)

We have a similar scale or spectrum in IT — namely, Hybrid.

Hybrid runs from traditional legacy IT on premise all the way to complete adoption of everything in a public cloud off premise. And anywhere in between.

Hybrid IT

The reality is that neither extreme makes a lot of sense – what we want to do is optimize so that we get the best of all worlds in a sort of hybrid existence. We need to study our applications and functional and non-functional requirements to determine the best fit for our workloads. Hey, is this sounding like the old Fit for Purpose type methodology ? You bet — it’s just a key added dimension for these new environments.

There are 7 decision focus areas that may help us work out how best to optimize where our applications and IT organizations fall on the Hybrid spectrum. Let’s look at each:

  • 1. The Private/Public/Hybrid Cloud decision for workloads based on requirements – Research by workload a best fit based on RAS, performance, pricing, etc.
  • 2. Keep your Systems of Record on the private side of the enterprise boundary (which may have financial or secure data) and your more mobile and social Systems of Engagement on the public side.  And connect them.
  • 3. Design and implement certain workloads to be Portable, to be able to go to and from a private environment to a public environment for optimization.
  • 4. Employ Systems Management as a key differentiator. Plan management capabilities across multiple environments.
  • 5. Consider off premise Backup and Archive.
  • 6. With certain workload peaks you may want to take advantage of public cloud for large jobs as an Additional Resource – maybe for extreme Hadoop implementations, as an example.
  • 7. Disaster Recovery – plan a parallel environment off premise.

By examining these considerations, you can make decisions for your organization to optimize where entire applications or parts of applications should reside. And place yourself on the Hybrid spectrum. In some cases, lemon juice might be best, sometimes baking soda. It’s just another awesome way we can tune our workloads to perform in the best way possible.

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The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

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November 21, 2014 at 10:39 am

Posted in Cloud, hybrid IT

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