2010-42.3: Its the little touches – IBM Storwize V7000

ORIGINALLY POSTED 8th October 2010

10,920 views on developerworks

Well I’m almost recovered from the hectic day yesterday. My day started with the train from Southampton at 6:30am to get up to London in time to prep before the first session of the day.

Before I get too far, thanks to all that came along to the UK Launch event at Tate Britain – it was great to see so many people, just a pitty the auditorium wasn’t twice as big – I don’t think the marketing team expected such an amazing turnout – and I hope all that came found the day useful, and certainly from those people I had a chance to chat to afterwards, it was great to see the real excitement and understanding of why the Storwize V7000 is such a massive step forward, not only for IBM modular storage, but also for the industry as a whole.

Anyway, after spending the first couple of hours with members of the press, (I almost felt out of place, a room full of execs, marketing people, and little old me) it was almost straight into round two and some lunchtime nibbles with various industry analysts. It was great to hear some of the feedback from both these groups, again, you could see they were all excited too, you can read what Chris Mellor thinks over at The Register

A hurried shuffle of the demo box from one room to another and a brief chat with some colleagues, partners and customers and it was into the main event. I think from the general reception, we should have given Gary Barnett of the Bathwick Group more time, I loved the concept of “feral data” – I’m going to blatantly steal that Gary !

We could probably have spent a bit more time going into the product in detail, but Ian’s presentation and my demo have hopefully whetted peoples appetite to find out more – speak to your IBM BP, or account team and we’re always happy to have you come down to Hursley for a deep dive session. The excitement from the channel was clear – the resellers and partners I spoke with yesterday, and over the last few months are so happy we’ve given them a great product to go out and sell, and took it upon themselves to make sure the members of the development team that made it to the pub afterwards were, well lets just say, well oiled !

I made it back home at 1:30am this morning, and was relegated to the sofa when my wife realised just how oiled I was, and would no doubt spend the rest of the night snoring loudly!

Its amusing  the Googlewhack that was Storwize V7000 on Wednesday morning, is now over 10,000 entries!

Some great posts out in the blogosphere – from non IBMers too – getting Martin and Stephen posting positive articles about IBM storage is almost better than expected – and Martin, thanks for the reference, but there are many many more clever people than me in the Hursley Storage team, and every single one of the 150+ team, not to mention the hundreds more worldwide that have made this product a reality deserve more credit than me – I’m just a little voice for those people and I know how hard the core team have been working for the last two years – a round of applause to all of you.

Theres so much marketing and strategic statements out there at the moment, and I’ll leave all that to the marketeers and corporate positioning, and will delve into the techy stuff next week. However, its nice to see that Martin can see that we have thought long and hard about almost every aspect of this box, and it really is the little touches that mean a lot.

One of the good things about our interop testing on SVC is that the team has seen just about every storage box out there today, and how some of them are ok to manage, some are awful, and of course the out of the box experience is critical. It kinda sets the scene for how things are likely to continue. How many of you have to to try and find that wierd serial cable thingy that you used once when you unpacked to box, and what was that default password thingy to login, did we change it, oh crap someone did – phone call to vendor, how do we reset it – and can you send me one of those whacky cables, all just to change the IP address…

With SVC we had the (some in dev and test team may not agree) the luxury of the front panel, so it was fairly painless to setup initially, and of course we could show errors, cluster state, node state and various hardware faults etc on the display. With the Storwize V7000 we didn’t want to have a display, nor some cryptic seven segment display code scheme, so as an example of the lttle things, we have re-architected the service strategy.

We now have what we call the Service Assistant interface. The out of the box experience uses this new interface to get your new box onto the network as quickly as possible. Take the USB stick supplied with the box, plug it into your laptop and fill in the settings in the dialog that pops up, this writes a file to the USB stick, now transfer it into one of the USB ports on the control canister and the settings are applied. Now you can point your browser directly at the IP address and you are into the “much loved” new GUI – a five step wizard completes the final few setup options (name, timezone, license, email) and finally a system checkout panel that shows any mis-cablings etc. The final step is a array wizard, that can be a single “go configure my box for me” which will generate some preset arrays, completely based on the drive types, speeds, capacities and of course the number of them.

We realise too that some enterprises don’t allow foreign USB sticks, or even at all, and we provide information on how to generate the file on your own USB stick and in the latter case, the box has a default IP you can login with via an ethernet cable.

The service assistant is more than a replacement for the front panel, its an entire mini-UI in itself – allowing all of the service operations you may ever need to perform. We’ve also re-architected the way hardware faults are handled, as long as the box can actually boot and run the OS, then we will startup the main code processes so that a non-critical hardware error can be logged to the system, and a call home generated. As long as the OS has booted and the main code started, you can login to the service assistant.

PS. Theres a service assistant CLI for those of you that love the CLI 🙂 The service documentation describes how to use the USB to run satask commands without the need to login over the network too.

PPS. SVC users get the SA interface too when upgrading to 6.1

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