Virtualization is only a means to an end

My previous column on virtualization generated a number of responses, most relating to where and how storage virtualization ha...

My previous column on virtualization generated a number of responses, most
relating to where and how storage virtualization has been deployed. It is
important to realize that virtualization is a means, not an end, to improved
storage management.
Having a good understanding of the problem that needs to be solved and how a
particular technology might be applied to address that problem is essential.
Despite the issues that I alluded to previously, there are several bright spots
in storage virtualization offerings that seem to be resonating and are being
deployed to address specific storage management challenges. Here are two
examples from mainstream vendors:
Tiered storage: Many organizations excitedly adopted tiered-storage strategies
only to become frustrated by additional management complexities that have
hindered expected financial benefits. The challenges of diverse management
tools and data migration among tiers are two areas where virtualization can
help. One interesting approach is the controller-centric Universal Storage
Platform (USP) from Hitachi Data Systems (HDS). The key here is that
virtualization has existed for years at the storage controller layer within the
array enclosure and is well-understood. HDS simply extended their controller
capabilities to support additional types of arrays beyond the frame boundary.
It is now possible to leverage the identical sets of services such as split
mirrors and replication among all tiers in a consistent manner behind the same
File system aggregation: Network-attached storage (NAS) is a technology that
has been wildly successful, in some cases, too successful. While people love
the ease of setting up and managing NAS appliances, in large shops the number
of appliances has created its own management challenges. Issues like laying out
shares effectively, migrating among boxes for load balancing, capacity
management, and technology refreshes can be complex and time-consuming. The
complexity can be reduced through virtualized global namespace technology to
aggregate and present a common file system view. Companies such as Brocade
Communications Systems with its NuView acquisition and Network Appliance with
its Virtual File Manager (OEMd from NuView) isolate the logical file system
structure from its physical layout to simplify these management chores.
As storage virtualization continues to evolve, the number of technology options
will inevitably grow. Storage managers must continue to be selective in
applying technologies that clearly reduce complexity and address problems.

E-mail addiction
By Gary Beach, CIO (US)
I recently read an article in a business magazine about three busy executives.
The writer of the piece asked them how many e-mails they typically receive in a
day. They said they average about 150.
One hundred and fifty?! How does that qualify as busy? By lunch, Ive usually
received well over 200 e-mails. Ive been averaging about 450. Some people I
know get more.
Recently, I had an e-mail epiphany. It was triggered when I missed two calls
from my boss. And, consequently, a meeting. How did I miss them? It was the
11th e-mail syndrome.
With my BlackBerry font set to eight, my screen displays 10 e-mails. But the
e-mail from my boss was thanks to Murphys Law 11th in the queue. Out of sight,
out of mind.
All this made me reflect on my e-mail management strategy. I didnt have one. I
wasnt managing e-mail. E-mail was managing me.
My inbox is cluttered with useless e-mail newsletters that I have subscribed to
over the years but have never read. Then there are the strings that have
nothing to do with me. I spend an average of 30 seconds on each piece of mail,
or nearly four hours a day. Thats half of an average work day.
Something had to be done. So I did it. I found the "unsubscribe" button on the
majority of those newsletters and, like the "easy" button on those Staples
commercials, I pushed it.
I still get more e-mails than those "busy" execs, but now I am down to about
200 incoming. If I could just train myself to use the phone more, or start
writing notes by hand, I know the quality of my life would improve.
Write me a handwritten note if you have some thoughts on how to break the
e-mail addiction.

Race condition II
By Sharky, Computerworld (US online)
Sysadmin pilot fish moves into a new office, and on the first day his PC
doesnt detect a network at all. He asks around; word is that everything should
be working by the end of the week.
Monday morning fish arrives at work and turns on his PC. Now it detects the
Ethernet network, but fish still doesnt have an IP address.
"Nothing is offered by DHCP, so I run tcpdump and try giving my machine similar
settings to what the other machines on the network appear to be using," says
fish. "Nothing. Cant even ping the router.
"Eventually, the person who seems to manage the office turns up. I ask him what
settings I need, as I cant connect to anything. He doesnt really understand,
and seems to think that the person who plugged the cables in on Friday has
messed up otherwise it would be working."
Eventually fish convinces the office manager to get the local techie to help.
She arrives, and fish explains that he needs to know what static IP address to
give his PC, since the network doesnt seem to be giving out IP addresses
Cant do it, techie tells fish. Theyve only paid the telco for one IP address,
so fish will have to use a "floating" one.
"I ask how I get such an address," fish says. "She tells me I need Internet
before I can get an IP address. Apparently, once Ive got Internet, I just go
to and it will give me one.
"Wonderful. She looks at me like Im a bit stupid, so I open up a Web browser
and let her use it. She types in, and looks confused when it
gives an error message about being unable to connect.
"Oh well. Looks like I cant get an IP address, as I dont have Internet."

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