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Elisabeth Stahl on Benchmarking and IT Optimization

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Blockchain on my Mind

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It’s really hard to believe but I actually used to go hiking in jeans. That’s right, blue jeans. 100% cotton blue jeans.

Long before “cotton kills” became the mantra of the North Face set, everyone hiked in jeans. For years — mostly in the beautiful sunny summer, south of the Mason-Dixon line — it was actually just fine.

Until one day I got caught in a giant frigid rainstorm on Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I quickly became soaked with icy water, my jeans drenched and hanging heavy. I’ll never forget getting off that mountain, jeans glued to my chilled skin. And then stripping down in the mountain parking lot, spreading everything on top of the car to dry out in the warm sun that had suddenly appeared.

A few years later I discovered these new zip-off hiking pants that could get wet and then dry almost instantly. This technology became a game changer for me. Suddenly, I achieved a decrease in unpleasant hiking time, a reduced risk from illness, and lower costs by avoiding a bad day on the mountain.

Blockchain, the distributed ledger that is everywhere in the news, is similar. Like with the zip-offs, some of us may be early adopters, some of us may have not even heard of it yet. But it’s a groundbreaking technology that is changing business at a breakneck speed.

Blockchain is a technology for applications that establishes trust, accountability and transparency while streamlining business processes. Approvals for items like letters of credit, invoices, mortgage verifications, clearings, and money transfers can now be done right away — and not take days to weeks to even months.

And don’t think that blockchain is just for the financial industry. The ledgers and smart contracts have great value cross-industry including supply chain, healthcare, government, retail. I’ve seen it work for shipping companies. I’ve seen an excellent use case for insurance companies.  I’ve seen it replace lawyers.

IBM is part of the Hyperledger Project, a collaborative effort created to advance blockchain technology by identifying and addressing important features for a cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers that can transform the way business transactions are conducted globally.

IBM can help with understanding which of your applications will benefit from blockchain and how to get started. Some sure indicators that a workload could benefit from blockchain include managing contractual relationships between more than two parties, complex business logic, and looking to reduce cost.

Using high end systems such as IBM z and Power systems for blockchain implementations is key. Blockchain can be deployed on these systems or connect to these systems to take advantage of the fast processors, memory, cache, hardware accelerators and cryptography, security and integration. The GoLang APIs, the RocksDB database, and the security and consensus algorithms, all on which blockchain relies, can really benefit from these features.

(In fact, lately I’ve been finding it hard to stop thinking about blockchain. True story: Late last night I was innocently reading a book on the couch about Rosemary Kennedy while someone in my family was fixing our kitchen door. And suddenly he started talking about the block plane he was using . . .)

Blockchain addresses 3 of the most important things in the world: Time, Cost, and Risk. So pick a project and get started. Like zip-offs, the world will never be the same.

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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 24, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Blockchain, Uncategorized

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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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Written by benchmarkingblog

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

Posted in Uncategorized

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Avoid “Jump the Gun” Benchmark Tests

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I was talking with someone the other day and noticed something funny. They were chomping at the bit to do some deep down Java tuning. Let’s make ten changes at once and blow this thing out of the water tuning. What they didn’t yet have was a clue on where they were going and how they would even know if they got there.

Before starting any systems performance testing or benchmarking, here are some of my best practices:

  • First things first, define your benchmark objectives. You need success metrics so you know that you have succeeded. They can be response times, they can be transaction rates, they can be users, they can be anything — as long as they are something.
  • Document your hardware/software architecture. Include device names and specifications for systems, network, storage, applications.
  • Implement just one change variable at a time. (OK, sometimes we can get away with a couple.)
  • Keep a change log — what tests were run, what changes were made, what the results were, what your conclusions were for that specific test.
  • Map your tests to what performance reports you based your conclusions on. Sometimes using codes or special syntax when you name your reports helps.
  • Keep going, don’t give up, you will get there.

Some of this we learned in science class. Some of this is common sense. But you’d be surprised sometimes by how much sense these days is uncommon.

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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 13, 2012 at 11:53 am

Posted in Performance, Uncategorized

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Big Day, Big Data, Big Announcements

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This past weekend began with a movie late Friday night. Then on to a day at the beach and another day picking blueberries and paddling seven miles in a canoe on the river. It was hot and sunny every minute and all I can think is how blessed to live here and now with the opportunity to have this jam-packed weekend.

Lately, IBM has consolidated announcements into many on the same day — in a jam-packed extravaganza. And we are fortunate to have these announcements today brimming with excitement and new technologies.

When data around the world reaches 35 zettabytes by 2020, that’s big data. You need to efficiently process, analyze and store the massive and growing types and amounts of data you’re collecting. IBM has announced today new solutions that do just this.

The IBM XIV family, with Gen2 and Gen3, is proven, high-end disk storage, designed for growth with unmatched ease of use. New IBM XIV models incorporate serial attached SCSI (SAS) HDDs, increased cache and InfiniBand system internal connectivity. IBM XIV increases performance by up to 4x throughput over the previous generation to boost business intelligence processing as well as speeding up backup and archiving processes. Response time is increased by up to 3x in OLTP, database, and email applications.

And we’re not just talking legacy storage read and write raw performance here — but true application performance using tests in the lab that incorporate such diverse applications as SAS business analytics, Microsoft Exchange mailboxes, and Oracle data warehouses.

See the new ITG paper comparing XIV and EMC. See why tape is the new black. And of course, don’t miss all the awesome announcements including the IBM z114, with up to 18% performance improvement per core and up to 12% more capacity within the same energy footprint as a z10 BC — what a way to consolidate hundreds of distributed servers. And let’s not leave out the Power running Linux new benchmark results.

Jam-packed announcements, jam-packed weekend. Oh and I also made blueberry jam.

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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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July 12, 2011 at 8:15 am

Posted in Uncategorized, XIV, z114

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It’s Better on TOP (500)

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Two weeks ago I climbed Old Rag. Old Rag is one of the most awesome mountains in the Shenandoah, only 70 miles from Washington DC and one of the few treeless tops in the park with an incredible 360 degree view. What did I learn from my climb?

  • When it’s 95 degrees, you really do need 2 liters of water per person.
  • Black flies have now migrated from Canada and New England to Virginia.
  • You definitely want to rub your suntan lotion in first, then put on the insect repellent.
  • If you take off your pack first, it’s amazing how much easier you can pull yourself through crevasses.
  • If you’re anything older than 19, you may need some help getting around boulders.
  • A “shelter” in the Shenandoah is not the same thing as a “hut” in the White Mountains. There is no drinking water and they don’t sell cookies.

So you may be thinking — this is a nice way to spend a vacation day? But despite all, there’s just something about being on top.

And today, the TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers was released.

  • IBM has the most installed aggregate throughput with over 15,334 out of 58,876 Teraflops (26.0%).
  • IBM has had this lead for 24 lists in a row.
  • IBM has the most energy-efficient system.
  • IBM has the most systems with 213. HP had 154. Oracle had 12.

Oh, and one more thing. Besides the top of the mountain, there’s the beautiful mountain laurel blooming white and pink. And the cold stream you can soak your hot feet and insect bitten legs in at the bottom. And that’s when you really feel that you wouldn’t trade the top of Old Rag for anything. Except maybe another top.

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Source: http://www.top500.org. Results current as of 6/20/11.

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 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Posted in TOP500, Uncategorized

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