Enterprise IT Watch Blog


June 18, 2010  6:22 AM

Pains and innovations with data backup software

Kevin Beaver Kevin Beaver Profile: Kevin Beaver

If you’re like me, you’ve yelled, cussed, and screamed over frustrations brought on by backup software. Let me share my experiences.

First off, I remember, back in the late 80s/early 90s, using a Colorado drive (remember those?!) with DOS-based software that just worked. Besides the occasional hardware burp, I knew I could set my 250MB system to backup overnight and by dawn it’d likely be finished.

Flash forward a few years to the mid to late 1990s and what did we have? More complexity. Sure, products like Arcserve and BackupExec had lots of features, but they also had tons of complexity. I just needed to run backups but couldn’t figure how to half the time without all the bells and whistles getting in the way. Perhaps I should’ve taken a class. On top of that, the software was extremely unstable and unreliable. Growing pains in that era I suppose. I miss the simplicity of networks, OSs, and so on from those days but certainly don’t miss all the headaches backup software brought on.

Flash forward to today: I don’t hear about such problems. Have the vendors finally gotten it? I’ve sort of witnessed this starting 6 or 8 years ago with the cool new disk imaging software company called Acronis that had a product called TrueImage. Acronis not only brought innovation to the table (being able to image a drive while the OS was running), but they helped me realize that backups can indeed be simple again. I thought Acronis TrueImage picked up where Ghost and Drive Image left off and they’ve continually innovated to the point where backups just work. No fuss, no muss, just good old reliable backups.

According to the recent SearchStorage.com quality awards, Acronis is holding its own against the big guys now, which is pretty impressive. It shows how a small company willing to innovate can take on the establishment. I love free enterprise! Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m no spokesperson. However, when I find software that works well I’m going to sing its praises and tell others about it.

Speaking of innovation, check out this graphical depiction of the history of computer storage. Very cool stuff that makes you realize how far we’ve come.

Kevin Beaver is an independent information security consultant, keynote speaker, and expert witness with Principle Logic, LLC and a contributor to the IT Watch Blog.

June 18, 2010  6:02 AM

Your Guide to Books on Storage

Kevin Beaver Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

In light of this month’s theme, Storage in 2010, we’ve compiled some books on data storage and more energy-efficient IT operations. Have you read one of these titles or did we leave a great book out? Let me know at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com and we’ll add it to our list!

What books or guides have helped you figure out your storage needs and best practices?

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.




June 17, 2010  12:22 PM

The ultimate solution for securing laptop storage?

Kevin Beaver Kevin Beaver Profile: Kevin Beaver

In preparation for my session at the upcoming Gartner Security Conference, I’ve been reviewing Intel’s Anti-Theft Technology. Have you seen it? It’s pretty neat and is a unique approach to the mobile security dilemma.

Basically, Intel is starting to integrate laptop security into their 2010 Intel Core hardware which promises to:

  1. Detect suspicious behavior that could indicate someone trying to break into the computer.
  2. Guard your hardware even if your hard drive is removed, replaced or reformatted.
  3. Restore operation when (if) the laptop is recovered.

Intel claims the technology will work even if someone re-images the system, changes the boot order, installs a new drive, or keeps the system off the Internet.

Now this is change we can believe in!

I’ve always thought that unless and until the vendors integrate controls such as Intel’s Anti-Theft Technology and drive encryption from the factory, we’re going to continue having a ridiculous amount of mobile security breaches. Sure, these technologies aren’t going to run themselves, but I believe them being built-in will dramatically increase the chances that they’ll be used.

I’ll give it a few more years, but I think my continual ranting about mobile security may eventually come to an end.

Kevin Beaver is an independent information security consultant, keynote speaker, and expert witness with Principle Logic, LLC and a contributor to the IT Watch Blog.


June 17, 2010  7:07 AM

SAN sanity finds open IT wallets

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

After a sleepy first quarter, storage area network (SAN) switch and adapter sales are booming as storage professionals look to get a get grip on explosive data growth, according to numbers crunched by Infonetics Research’s Michael Howard.

“In the first quarter of 2010, Fiber Channel and Fiber Channel over Ethernet SAN switch sales were unseasonably up, thanks mainly to Cisco, while SAN adapter sales were seasonally down, creating a flat sequential quarter for the overall storage network equipment market,” he wrote in a recent research note. “However, the market is up 24% from this quarter a year ago, and, with data and video being created at unprecedented levels and concentrated in data centers, companies will continue to invest in SAN switches to reduce complexity on the data center floor.”

And Howard thinks the SAN love is here to stay, projecting the market will grow to $6.5 billion by 2014, more than double its revenues in 2009. The technology’s been particularly popular in the North American market, where video production and transmission has pushed media moguls to find a better way to manage their storage farms, but with more video corporate training, communication and HD video to go around digitally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see much of the rest of the world following on fast.

Michael Morisy is the community editor for ITKnowledgeExchange. He can be followed on Twitter or you can reach him at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.


June 17, 2010  6:01 AM

Storage in 2010: Hot Off the IT Knowledge Exchange Press

Michael Morisy Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

It’s Storage in 2010 Month here at IT Knowledge Exchange, so we thought we’d share what some of our bloggers around the community block are saying about storage. Have a storage topic you’d like covered? Let me know in the comments or email me directly at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Enjoy!

And as always, check back at the Enterprise IT Watch blog for the latest on our monthly themes and topics.

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.


June 17, 2010  6:00 AM

Will solid-state storage save the day?

Kevin Beaver Kevin Beaver Profile: Kevin Beaver

Storage Magazine’s recent piece “Making the case for solid-state storage” brought up some interesting points regarding the future of storage technology.

First, will solid state storage finally bring an end to data loss resulting from drive failures? As we’ve all learned the hard way, there’s a universal law that states fewer moving parts means greater reliability. Speed is another factor, with performance gains of seven to nine times traditional storage. Not just in processing efficiency, convenience, user productivity and so on, but such speed improvements can have an enormous impact on disaster recovery and business continuity efforts. Perhaps this will be the contributing factor that pushes management to get on board with DR/BC. Or, perhaps it’ll be an excuse: “If we can use solid-state storage devices to recover our systems much more quickly, what’s our incentive to build out an elaborate DR/BC program?”

It’s funny, I remember studying about the inner workings of solid state memory while getting my undergraduate degree in the early 1990s way before “solid state” as we know it today was cool.  Maybe it’s just my perception, but this technology seems a bit late to the game. I like what solid state storage stands for and brings to the table but given where we are in other areas of technology, it’s just not all that exciting.

Maybe my perception will change once I get my hands on some of this hardware.


June 16, 2010  1:09 PM

Data Storage and Security: Trend Micro follows the trend

Kevin Beaver Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

In the news release announcing the 2005 merger of Symantec and Veritas, the new entity was said to be “uniquely positioned to deliver information security and availability solutions across all platforms, from the desktop to the data center.” Symantec’s Chairman and CEO, John W. Thompson, speculated that its “customers [were] looking to reduce the complexity and cost of managing their IT infrastructure and drive efficiency with fewer suppliers.”

If that still holds true, customers got more of what they want—or fewer of what they don’t want—in yesterday’s latest symbiotic acquisition of humyo by Trend Micro. The new association mirrors the convergence of data storage and data security.

From the Trend Micro website:

The acquisition of humyo aligns nicely with Trend Micro’s strategy to deliver industry leading cloud security technology and products to stop threats where they emerge, on the internet, and provide security for and from the cloud.

Trend Micro is number three behind Symantec and McAfee in the antivirus and security sector, and it’s safe to bet that this acquisition is an attempt to expand its offerings and therefore its customer base. After all, if you’re already offering security for the cloud, why not go that extra step and provide the cloud as well, right? One-stop-shopping seems to be the trend in IT storage these days, as does the ever-blurring of the line between storage and security. From MSPmentor’s Joe Panettieri:

In some cases, the walls between online storage and security are fading away or disappearing entirely. For instance, CA Technologies is reinventing its security and storage lineup to embrace managed services pricing. Symantec is expected to take similar steps soon, according to online forum chatter. And master MSPs like Ingram Micro Seismic and Virtual Administrator are blending storage and security services for VARs and MSPs.

What are your thoughts on this acquisition and its implications for the storage industry? Is cloud storage replacing cloud backups? Share your thoughts in the comments section or email me directly.

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.


June 16, 2010  6:52 AM

Using drive health as a reminder to perform backups?

Kevin Beaver Kevin Beaver Profile: Kevin Beaver

Acronis has a pretty neat—and free—tool called Drive Monitor that’s worth checking out. The premise of the program—”to increase customer awareness about the health of their disk drives and to encourage them to back up their data in order to survive a disk failure”—struck a chord when I saw the offer. It seems a little backwards, but I believe the Acronis folks have taken a good approach.

It’s true—many people tend not to take backups seriously unless or until it appears that something bad is about to happen. I’ve seen a lot of businesses banking on the reliability and up time of critical drives and storage systems while ignoring the maintenance and oversight such systems require. This mindset is directly related to the common information privacy and security excuses you hear from management such as:

  • “We don’t have anything the bad guys would want.”
  • “We have a firewall, encryption, and anti-virus, so we’re good.”
  • “Our auditor told us we’re in compliance with the important federal regulations.”

I don’t know which is the more primitive of information security controls—using strong passwords or backing up data—but it’s really interesting how many businesses overlook both.

The way I see it is at least vendors such as Acronis see the need and are offering preventative tools to keep bad things from happening. Sure, we can’t force data backups on others but at least there are resources for those looking for a solution.


June 15, 2010  6:01 AM

Storage Decisions 2010: Storage Insecurities Ride On

Kevin Beaver Kevin Beaver Profile: Kevin Beaver

As TechTarget’s Storage Decisions conference wrapped up today, I was perusing the conference site and noticed something peculiar about the sessions. There are sessions on backup. There are sessions on disaster recovery. There’s even one on ITIL. But nowhere could I find anything on storage security.

Sure, being a security guy, I’m biased in my approach, but if storage security is not being discussed at such a high-profile conference, where is it being discussed? Well, perhaps there’s some coverage at RSA, CSI, and related security shows, but I wouldn’t think those are the shows where storage admins are hanging out.

My point is, there’s still a disconnect between the perceived risks of storage systems and the actual risks. Based on just the storage-related vulnerabilities in the past 12 months alone (search the word “storage” here), there are obviously some things that should concern any given business. Storage is more than boring old disk drives; it’s applications, operating systems, and firmware that present a relatively broad attack surface on the network. What is your organization doing about it?

Kevin Beaver is an independent information security consultant, keynote speaker, and expert witness with Principle Logic, LLC and a contributor to the IT Watch Blog.


June 14, 2010  10:17 AM

IBM’s Storewize acquisition reports highlight storage squeeze

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

A short blurb in the Israeli daily Haaretz has the storage world talking: IBM is negotiating to acquire data storage startup Storewize for $140 million. Rather than offering storage solutions directly, Storewize focuses on boosting existing network-attached storage by compressing and decompressing data before it’s stored or accessed with a drop-in appliance, similar to how more widely-deployed WAN optimization technology works. Storewize claims it can reduce storage utilization by 50% to 90%, reducing an organization’s data center footprints, cooling costs and necessary hardware all in one fell swoop.

With public customers like Polycom reducing storage needs upwards of 60% on everything from disaster recovery backups to Oracle databases, it’s no surprise IBM took notice, offering Storewize’s STN-6000p series through its business partner program.

Organizations could certainly use any opportunity to cut down on storage demands: While costs per gigabyte continue to drop, facilities costs for data centers remain high and the amount of data that needs to be stored has increased six-fold in the past four years with no signs of slowing.

Are we seeing the beginnings of a storage compression war, just as we saw a storage deduplication war start three years ago? Quite possibly: The Register reports that Storewize competitor Exar will likely get a boost as other storage vendors look to beef up their own optimization offerings. If war is imminent, vendors and users alike might take Arun Taneja’s advice from last time around, when he warned that while the need was very real, results and benefits from the current technology need to be fully vetted:

So, be prepared to see a barrage of data coming your way. I am suggesting to the vendor community that they run their products using a common dataset to identify the differences in approaches. I think you should insist on it. Without that, the onus is on you to convert their internal benchmarks to how it might perform in your environment. You may even need to try the system using your own data

What do you think? Are storage compression appliances going to be standard issue in your upcoming storage deployments, and can you trust the public case studies to apply to your situation? Let me know in the comments or e-mail me directly.

Michael Morisy is the community editor for ITKnowledgeExchange. He can be followed on Twitter or you can reach him at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.


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