Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, David H Deans, Automic Blog, Pat Romanski, Janakiram MSV

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security, SDN Journal

Containers Expo Blog: Blog Feed Post

Bare Metal Blog: Mean Time Between Failures

MTBF has meaning well beyond storage

If you are new to the Bare Metal Blog series, find them all here

When assembling a model – any model, from a highly detailed functional replica of an engine to a mass produced plastic model of an airplane – there are several places where things can go wrong. The final product is only as good as the model kit, the glue used, the tools used, and the skill of the craftsman. I’ve seen the same exact model assembled and painted by two different people that look completely different, simply because of the array of variables and how they interact.

This is true of high tech equipment also, and like modeling, it is often overlooked. Interestingly, in my entire IT career, MTBF has only been a measure that meant a ton in two circumstances: When designing hardware and scoping the parts to go in it, and when talking about storage. In all other endeavors, MTBF if mentioned was a side note.

And yet it matters. It can matter a lot. Like most hardware companies (because we spec our own parts and monitor our own quality), we track MTBF both computed from the sum of the parts with average environmental considerations, and actual tracking based upon support cases involving hardware and RMAs. For us, knowing helps us improve quality. For customers, knowing helps gauge the bounds of useful life for the equipment being purchased. Of course, MTBF is a mean, not a fact, and it is entirely possible for a device to last much longer than its MTBF, in fact the fact that it is a mean kind of implies that roughly half of the devices out there will last longer. But it’s the mean, not the median, and most IT shops do not want to plan like a device will last well beyond its MTBF value. MTBF can offer a bit of guidance when it is fairly calculated, and another tool in the evaluation toolbox never hurt an IT shop.

As mentioned earlier in this series, F5 sets quality standards for suppliers to meet, if they wish to continue supplying. This allows a bit better control over MTBF than doing something like “lowest bidder” or similar procurement, simply because the standards set include the quality of parts used, which all rolls into the MTBF calculations – and more importantly for most IT shops, the MTBF reality. While MTBF is a complex set of equations, you can generalize to “the MTBF of a device is as low as or lower than the MTBF of its weakest part”. That means supplier quality standards matter in a very real way. I had a RAID array fail on me once – several drives down all at the same time. The array vendor had to count that as a failure, since RAID no longer worked (thank heavens for backups!), but the failure was on the part of one of their suppliers. That’s how it is in the manufacturing world whomevers’ name is on the box gets the bad rep for quality, regardless of whose handiwork was slipshod. That is why F5’s non-stop quality monitoring program (devices are tested from before release until EOL is announced) matters a lot. It’s also why quality standards for parts suppliers matter more then getting the absolute cheapest part, as some manufacturers are wont to do.

I will not replicate our entire knowledge base article here, if you have an ask.f5.com account, you can click here to read it. I’ll just summarize and pull bits out for the readers’ enjoyment.

F5 gear runs the gauntlet from entry level to massive blade systems. As such, MTBF varies from device to device. The worst calculated MTBF for an F5 device is over three years. And our quality team tells me that the calculated value is far lower than the real-life-experience value they get from watching returns and such. The best calculated MTBF is over 21 years. It’s a rare piece of computer gear that is used that long, but Lori and I have got some pretty old F5 gear that’s still clipping away like it was new, so no surprises there. Most F5 devices fall somewhere in between.

Why the large variance in MTBFs if we control for quality? A valid question. The fact is that it is not all about the quality of parts. Airflow inside the device, number of redundant parts, number of removable parts… there are a zillion other things that go into MTBF, and they all tend to get better as the device gets physically larger. Entry level devices are small, restricting airflow and cutting down on available space for redundant power supplies, etc. While the top end blade servers have room for all of that, and since cards are replaceable, tend to less failures. You will find a similar spread with any other vendor that covers such a wide range of hardware. And all of those numbers are likely to beat out a COTS server running a software product.

So when looking at any electronic gear, ask about MTBF. Alone it simply gives you insight into the priorities for the device you’re looking at, when combined with the MTBF numbers from several different devices (the same manufacturer or multiple), it gives you an idea of what you are buying in terms of quality. Of course with a large chunk of any given appliance handled in software, MTBF is not as meaningful as it once was, but it is still the underlying bedrock for that software to run on.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Don MacVittie

Don MacVittie is founder of Ingrained Technology, A technical advocacy and software development consultancy. He has experience in application development, architecture, infrastructure, technical writing,DevOps, and IT management. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex softw...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, will discuss the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information,
China Unicom exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, in November 2016. China United Network Communications Group Co. Ltd ("China Unicom") was officially established in 2009 on the basis of the merger of former China Netcom and former China Unicom. China Unicom mainly operates a full range of telecommunications services including mobile broadband (GSM, WCDMA, LTE FDD, TD-LTE), fixed-line broadband, ICT, data communica...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Auditwerx will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Auditwerx specializes in SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3 attestation services throughout the U.S. and Canada. As a division of Carr, Riggs & Ingram (CRI), one of the top 20 largest CPA firms nationally, you can expect the resources, skills, and experience of a much larger firm combined with the accessibility and attent...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...