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Elisabeth Stahl on Benchmarking and IT Optimization

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Amazon, Don’t Be A Performance Amateur

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I read just this morning that La Guardia airport in New York, with its dilapidated terminals and long delays, will be at long last rebuilt by 2021.

The plans look promising and work has already started. With new taxiways, a train and a grand entryway, it will finally be something to be proud of. Major infrastructure certainly needed for one of the major big league cities in the world.

And to play in the big league, you need to have the right plans to study and analyze, and you need to know what you are talking about. Which is why I was so disappointed this morning to also read about some new performance claims from Amazon Web Services (AWS).

In an announcement of a new relational database offering, Amazon made claims that simply had me confused. Let’s take a look:

  • The claims mix up performance with price performance. Obviously this difference is pretty basic. And important — but especially important in this environment where AWS charges extra for database instances, storage, and I/O.
  • The claims mix up speed and throughput. This difference can be very important because in this environment there are only 3 AWS regions right now offering these services and network performance can be key.
  • The claims mix up general comparisons with other “existing solutions” with a comparison using one particular tool, SysBench, to one particular release of one particular database, MySQL 5.6.
  • The claims mix up whether any improvement is due to software or hardware while stating that special techniques were used on both. Need I say more.

To play in the big league majors you have the understand the complexities of the subject. By attempting to address performance of this new offering, AWS is clearly exhibiting minor stripes.

Have you ever been at that gate at La Guardia, I think it’s A1A, where you have to carry your suitcase down two flights of stairs to a small waiting room with no air?

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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.

Amazon Web Services and the “Powered by Amazon Web Services” logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries.

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Written by benchmarkingblog

July 28, 2015 at 11:41 am

Posted in Amazon, Cloud

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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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Written by benchmarkingblog

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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Written by benchmarkingblog

April 2, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Posted in Cloud

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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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Written by benchmarkingblog

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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Written by benchmarkingblog

November 21, 2014 at 10:39 am

Posted in Cloud, hybrid IT

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Go Fish: Why POWER8 May Just Be Perfect for Your Cloud

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Last weekend I spent cleaning out our fish pond. 5 years of sediment and dirt at the bottom, a monumental chore. But the most exciting part involved catching the goldfish and placing them in a temporary home (aka the kiddie pool the dog uses).

I thought it would be easy — but it was truly amazing how fast these fish swam. Eventually you were able to catch those beautiful slippery goldfish in your hands. And finally feel that you had a handle on the job.

I think that’s how many of us were thinking about Cloud in the past. Getting our hands around this slippery beast — needing to see real products and applications.

Of course we all know how awesome Power Systems are for performance and other non-functional requirements such as RAS and security. Well let’s see this extension of leadership in the cloud arena.

Power Systems servers are indeed architected to achieve maximum performance and efficiency for both the system and its virtual machines. Intelligent workload based resource allocation with dynamic processor thread switching and logical memory expansion deliver optimal performance for critical Cloud services.

Power Systems now have great alternatives for:

  • Public Cloud: An Open source Linux solution for scale-out clouds services with
    1) Flexibility, agility and interoperability with open source virtualization and cloud management
    2) Accelerated insights for big data and compute intensive Cloud services
  • Private Cloud: Pre-built, pre-installed entry cloud system for Enterprise and Scale Out clouds
    1) Get up and running with a private cloud — in just 1 day
    2) 0 common vulnerability exposures — that’s right, NONE
  • Hybrid Cloud: Next Generation with OpenAPIs
    1) Open alternative to proprietary cloud stacks
    2) Cross-platform support for x86, Power and System z
    3) Single pane of glass to monitor

So just as the fish are now happy and back in their crystal clear pond, we can be happy and choose our cloud alternatives with Power Systems – whether you like an open solution, the security of PowerVM on a choice of operating systems or a combination of the best of both worlds.

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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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Written by benchmarkingblog

June 3, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Posted in Cloud, POWER8

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On Investing in the Cloud

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It’s 7AM on a weekday morning and I’m in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Ohio. And as I drive by the faded barns, the cattle, and the one town with the giant McDonald’s and the adult bookstore, I start to laugh.

I’m alone in the car. I’m supposed to be thinking deep thoughts about what I will discuss at a client meeting in an hour or two. I don’t even let myself listen to music in case it distracts me. But I can’t keep from cracking up.

You see, it’s a billboard. Specifically the words on the billboard. An advertisement for a store. And not just any store. This is for, of all things, Grandpa’s Cheesebarn.

I don’t know why it’s so funny. It reminds me of my grandpa in a plaid robe and slippers. Maybe even eating cheese. Or smelling like cheese. In a barn. (disclosure – It actually looks like a great place to buy many cool foods and I promise to stop there next time.)

Anyway, the name is really really really funny.

Which reminded me of an article I read this morning on an investment manager’s thoughts on cloud computing.

Here’s the reality and what, of course, all of us who are actually in IT already know:

  • Private, public, and hybrid clouds all have their places. Some applications are best in an organization’s private cloud. Sometimes applications do well in a public cloud. And sometimes hybrids are the perfect solution.
  • Best fit for these options depends on many things including security, reliability, availability, performance.
  • Guess what ? Clouds are actually backed by something real — called servers.
  • IBM and other IT companies offer many products and services. Hardware is one piece. Software is another. Complex transformation services are another. All are valuable in their own way and integrate to make IT solutions for clients that end up running important businesses for all of us.

 

This morning I realized that taking advice from an investment manager on cloud computing is like trying to get an oil change at Grandpa’s Cheesebarn. You just shouldn’t.

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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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Written by benchmarkingblog

April 23, 2013 at 11:49 am

Posted in Cloud

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