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IETF advancing very slowly on HTTP 2.0 WG, but still progressing

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August 5, 2014

The long-awaited HTTP 2.0 standard has inched a step further towards completion, with the IETF issuing a last call on the two key documents of the new specification.

The comments are to end on September 1st, and time is rapidly running out. The project is advancing, but at a snail's pace.

The two drafts in question are the core HTTP 2.0 document, and the HPACK header compression format.

It's been a very long road, and full of obstacles to get to HTTP 2.0. Last year, we reported on the various plans for interoperability testing, and that was followed in November by a more vigorous debate over the proposal that the new internet specification make encryption mandatory.

The latter proposal ultimately survived, even though it could pose some issues for some system operators.

As F5's Lori MacVittie writes, the new protocol will pose challenges for data centre operators. By mandating SSL or TLS, a lot of traffic traversing data centres will become much harder to see, and therefore to monitor and analyse.

And of course, there's also been the usual complaints that big interests have inhibited the development of a standard.

In May, FreeBSD developer Poul-Henning Kamp complained that Google's SPDY protocol (for accelerating Web traffic) was disrupting HTTP 2.0 so much that the project should be abandoned.

Mark Nottingham, the project chair, criticized Kamp and asked him as well as his working group to either indicate their support, cease and desist.

In other IT news

IBM said this morning that it has upgraded its FlashSystem array capacity to an effective 1.6 PB by integrating some SVC/Storwize features, including real-time data compression.

Overall, IBM's new FlashSystem V-840 release 1.2 is designed from three 2U rackmount units, an AE-1 storage enclosure and two active AC-1 control enclosures.

The new storage system can hold 12 SSDs with 1 TB, 2 TB or 4 TB capacity, bringing raw storage up to 48 TB and configurable capacity to 40 TB.

There can be up to 8 of these in a FlashSystem configuration, making maximum configurable capacity to 320 TB, which is lifted to 1.6 PB by achieving 80 percent compression of data stored in the new implementation.

A single FlashSystem V-840 building block has two control enclosures and four of these can be grouped together using dedicated internal 8 Gbit/s Fibre Channel switching, providing 160 TB of configurable capacity.

The overall system can have an additional four storage enclosures, giving us the 320 TB configurable capacity number.

A single V840 can have up to 5 storage enclosures, providing 200 TB of configurable capacity. A group of four V840s can have, effectively, two storage enclosures each for a maximum of eight (40 TB) storage servers and the 320 TB capacity limit.

According to IBM's guidelines, you cannot have 4 maximally configured V-840s, each with five 40 TB storage enclosures, 200 TB per V840, thus providing a theoretical 800 TB of configurable capacity and 4 PB of after-compression capacity using IBM's 5X multiplier.

Perhaps a future that the V-840 development program might use later is InfiniBand and higher speed processors to go beyond the overall 320 TB configurable capacity limit.

Real-time compression is an optional software feature. The AC-1 Control Enclosure, fitted with a Xeon E5 v2 8-core processor, carries out its real-time compression work using a second Xeon 8-core E5 with 32 GB of memory and up to two optional compression accelerator cards for hardware-assisted compression.

The compression accelerator cards double the compression IOPs and provide a 3.5X compression speed boost.

It's obviously very intensive in processor usage terms. Encryption is also optionally available.

Big Blue is calling the FlashSystem's SVC/Storwize code "software-defined storage", but you can only buy the system on IBM's hardware platform, so don't go thinking you can buy the software and run it on your own sourced server controllers and flash JBOD enclosure-- it simply won't work that way.

The software already supports three tiers of storage and IBM's Easy Tier data placement software, so at lower access rate needs, it can be moved to nearline disk storage and then to some form of longer-term store.

Other data management features include replication, FlashCopy data protection, remote mirroring, thin provisioning and the virtualization of attached third-party arrays.

That makes them act as quasi-FlashSystem arrays and takes the overall usable capacity limit to an immense 32 PB.

Accessing servers connect to the V-840 via Fibre Channel cables. The FlashSystem V840 plays nicely with VMware, there being a vCentre plug-in, VAAI support and SRA for Site Recovery Manager.

And yes, VVOL support is coming soon, we are told. The FlashSystems are fast-selling arrays, according to Gartner, a bright spot in IBM's storage portfolio, and this new converged system will probably be accretive to Big Blue's business.

As with other all-flash arrays (from EMC, Pure Systems and Solidfire for example) we can reasonably look forward to a capacity increase in the next 6 to eighteen months as denser flash chips become available. There's no pricing available yet.

In other IT news

Microsoft said this morning that it's now offering a new version of its EMET app (Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit) and can be downloaded now.

The software behemoth recommends the deployment of EMET as a frontline defense against various potential attacks, so the release of a new version is useful.

The two largest enhancements that Microsoft is talking up the loudest on this new implementation are an improved Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) tool.

The ASR tool is configured to block some modules and plug-ins from being loaded by Internet Explorer while navigating to websites belonging to the Internet Zone.

The new ASR will also block the Adobe Flash plug-in from being loaded by Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

If you really want Flash to load, EMET can also be tweaked to make it so, but that's not something that Microsoft recommends.

The company is also keen on Export Address Table Filtering Plus, a new revision that offers additional integrity checks on stack registers and stack limits when export tables are read from certain lower-level modules.

There's also a new EMET service that takes care of evaluating the Certificate Trust rules, appropriately dispatching EMET Agents in every user’s instance, and automatically applying Group Policy settings pushed through the network.

In other IT news

In an unexpected decision, HP has given OpenVMS a new chance on life, effectively reversing last year's move to kill that server's operating system. HP hasn't changed its mind about its latest OpenVMS roadmap, which has it ending standard support for some versions of the OS in 2015 and then completely abandoning its support by 2020.

Instead, it has granted an exclusive license to another company, VMS Software Inc, to take over after its own support ends.

However, that doesn't just mean providing hospice care for older servers, either. VSI says it plans to produce new builds of OpenVMS for more recent hardware architectures, beginning with the latest Intel Itanium chips and eventually crossing over to the x86 architecture.

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"We are grateful and thrilled that HP has granted us stewardship over the future of this operating system," VSI CEO Duane Harris said in a press release.

"Our passion for taking OpenVMS into future decades is only matched by the many developers and customers who have relied on it to faithfully run their mission critical applications over the last thirty years," Harris added.

The move comes just a few days after a French OpenVMS user group published an open letter to HP urging it to reconsider its decision to abandon the operating system, which began life as VAX/VMS in 1977, and has survived in one form or another ever since.

"It is impossible to think that HP could not actively maintain support for dependable systems that are such an important part of its portfolio," read the letter, which was penned by Gerard Calliet of HP-Interex France.

Under the new arrangement, current customers will continue to receive support for OpenVMS 8.4 and earlier from HP, as specified in the company's roadmap.

VSI doesn't plan to offer extended support for those versions once HP's support expires. Rather, it will use OpenVMS source code licensed from HP to produce new versions of the OS.

These will also include support for newer hardware, beginning with HP Integrity i4 servers based on the Intel Itanium 9500 Poulson CPUs.

The forthcoming "Kittson" Itaniums will be next on VSI's list, followed at some point by a version of x86 processors, which VSI has dubbed OpenVMS v.Next.

VSI has committed to providing standard support for each new OpenVMS version for a minimum of five years.

Overall, no release dates have been given for any of these builds, but VSI has published a preliminary rolling roadmap explaining its plans, which it says it will update every three months.

VSI was founded by the principals of Nemonix Engineering, a company that has provided support services for OpenVMS systems for the last thirty years.

The company, which is based in Bolton Massachusetts, says it has assembled an onshore team of veteran OpenVMS developers, many of which it says have experience dating back to the Digital Equipment Corp days.

In announcing the partnership, Ric Lewis, vice president and general manager of HP's enterprise 8 server division, said that HP customers now have "a complete long-term solution" for their OpenVMS servers.

"HP customers who would like to deploy OpenVMS on current and future HP technologies now have additional options, and those who choose to stay on their existing OpenVMS platform will be protected by the extended HP support services announced previously without interruption or change in process," Lewis said.

Source: The IETF.

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