Storage Soup

August 16, 2010  12:38 PM

Dell spends $1.15 billion on 3PAR

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Dell took another huge step into the storage world today when it said it will buy thin provisioning pioneer 3PAR for $1.15 billion.

The blockbuster deal isn’t Dell’s most expensive storage buy – it paid $1.4 billion for iSCSI vendor EqualLogic in 2008 – but 3PAR becomes another key piece in an expanding storage strategy. The storage industry has been waiting for Dell to make a large acquisition for more than a year, but it concentrated on adding pieces such as Exanet’s clustered NAS technology and Ocarina Networks’ primary data optimization.

3PAR’s InServ storage systems gives Dell a utility-based modular storage system that appeals to larger customers than EqualLogic’s iSCSI SANs. It also brings it into greater competition with its storage partner EMC, which 3PAR considers its largest competitor. Dell resells EMC’s midrange Clariion and Celerra storage systems as well as Data Domain deduplication backup appliances.

According to Dell’s press release: “Dell plans to make 3PAR an integral part of its industry-leading storage portfolio, including PowerVault, EqualLogic and Dell/EMC. With 3PAR, Dell will offer innovative systems and customer choice at every storage tier, from direct-attach to highly-virtualized, clustered SAN.”

Dell also added an object-based storage platform this year, which competes with EMC’s Atmos system. EMC and Dell keep saying their relationship is strong, yet Dell keeps acquiring EMC competitors or developing its own products that compete with EMC.

Dell also paid a large price for 3PAR. The $18 per share cash transaction is an 86% premium on 3PAR’s share price last Friday. “Nonetheless, we think it is a positive for Dell,” Wedbush financial analyst Kaushik Roy wrote of the deal in an email. “Dell needs to move up into the data center and this is what would help Dell get into the data center, Dell is desperate for better margins … and storage is adjacent to what Dell sells – in other words, it is an easy product to sell for Dell.”

We’ll have more on this breaking story later on

August 5, 2010  3:59 PM

CommVault’s Simpana 9 getting close

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

You could tell by listening to CommVault’s earnings report call this week that Simpana 9 is just around the corner. Maybe it won’t be available in early October as a report out of New Zealand put it, but it probably won’t be too long after that.

We know that because CommVault CEO Bob Hammer sounded more like a product marketing manager than a CEO discussing his company’s earnings earlier this week.

Hammer gave a quick rundown of CommVault’s earnings – in line with the disappointing preliminary results it gave last month. After assuring financial analysts that things are looking up this quarter, he spent most of the call talking about Simpana 9.

Highlights of that product, which will include source- and target-side data deduplication:

  • The goal is to back up hundreds of virtual machines in minutes, scale to tens of thousands of machines across the enterprise, and speed access to data and the time it takes to recover from a failure.
  • Increased archiving features will include the ability to index and retrieve content from any repository Simpana 9 will improve on the cloud backup feature added to Simpana 8 in February, with a more scalable object data content store to enable service providers to build private or public clouds.
  • Source and target deduplication will increase effieciency “across the entire end-to-end data lifecycle” and enable rapid recovery of application data.
  • Simpana 9 will double the number of systems CommVault can manage while increasing the number of concurrent operations sixfold.
  • Simpana 9 will have simpler capacity-based licensing, automated to avoid manual periodic audits.
  • “We’ll enable the customer to dedupe at the source, target, or in between, at a very high scale and with the deduplication volume being fully indexed,” Hammer said. “All those are unique. Nobody has fully indexed dedupe, nobody can dedupe at the source or target, or manage dedupe in the stack across different storage silos.”

    When I spoke to Hammer after the call, he expanded on the “dedupe everywhere” concept.

    “It’s not just dedupe. Dedupe is a feature but it has to be managed across the stack and it has to be application specific,” he said. “What we’re seeing is to manage your data and data movement, you have to automate the virtualization layer granularly with application-specific information to manage virtual nodes that are moving dynamically. You’re talking about hundreds of thousands of these nodes. And you have to manage them to a storage space across all hardware silos. You don’t just move them with snapshots and replication. They have to be indexed and granular, and you have to be able to move them down the storage stack, across silos and into the cloud.”

    Despite his enthusiasm about the new release, Hammer remained disappointed in sales from last quarter. CommVault’s revenue was $66.3, as it forecasted in July. That was more than $5 million below Wall Street expectations. Hammer did say many deals that failed to close by the end of the quarter have since closed. The quarter was the first of CommVault’s fiscal year, and Hammer said he hasn’t lower expectations for the full year.

    “We had a big hole [last quarter],” he said. “Now our objective is to catch up.”

    August 4, 2010  7:51 PM

    HDS: We’ll outpace FAST … eventually

    Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

    Hitachi Data Systems has kept a tight lid on any upgrades to its flagship USP-V enterprise storage platform. Everybody in the storage industry expects an upgrade this year, but the HDS folks won’t even confirm that much. They will talk about other developments, though, while keeping details sparce.

    One thing HDS is working on is automated tiering software, which HDS VP of storage platforms Robert Basilio says is a key to driving solid state storage adoption. “SSD adoption will be limited until you have a better way of managing storage,” he said. “And prices are not coming down as fast as anybody would like.”

    Basilio says he’s not concerned that archrival EMC already has its FAST tiering software out with version 2 on the way. “We have more know-how than anybody in this area,” he said. “EMC is bringing out FAST, but we think we’ll have faster and fastest.”

    HDS, which partners for backup data deduplication, plans to have dedupe for primary storage as well but “there’s nothing I can share now,” Basilio said.

    HDS did break out its revenue results from the Hitachi parent company’s earnings report, and while it doesn’t get as specific with its numbers as most of its competitors those numbers do show some interesting trends.

    HDS said its revenue for last quarter was $804 million, up 13% from the previous year. This compares to 21% year over year growth by EMC, but Stifel Nicolas financial analyst Aaron Rakers points out EMC’s revenue grew 14% if you exclude the Data Domain platform that EMC acquired after the second quarter of 2009.

    Still, EMC said its high-end Symmetrix revenue grew 32% since last year. HDS says its USP-V grew only “high-single digits.”

    But HDS is becoming less reliant on USP-V business. Hardware made up 55% of its revenue for last quarter with services contributing 30% and software 15%. And HDS midrange modular storage grew in “strong double-digits.” Basilio says USP-V isn’t losing share to competitors but customers are finding more value in the HDS Adaptable Modular Storage 2000 midrange platform. It is also selling a lot more NAS through its OEM partnership with BlueArc.

    “There’s a lot of change in the storage world today,” he said. “The AMS is not our best or fastest system, but it’s the most consistently reliable product in the modular area today.”

    July 30, 2010  1:05 PM

    Quantum still taking its lumps

    Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

    Quantum’s strategy for breaking its sales slump is to think small. That means a large steady stream of smaller deals rather than relying on a handful of big deals.

    Quantum CEO Rick Belluzzo says the vendor made some large deals with its DXi7500 deduplication systems last quarter but many large deals also got pushed back because of spending issues, resulting in “lumpy” results. The bottom line is that Quantum needs to improve sales for the DXi6500 midrange and DXi4500 SMB platforms instead of relying heavily on larger DXi7500 deals in the enterprise.

    “The nature of our business is big-deal oriented, and that makes us more susceptible to when people pull back,” Belluzzo said. “We look at bigger deals that we track, and very few – virtually none – are deals we lost. A lot didn’t close, but hopefully slipped into the next quarter. But our smaller deals can’t offset that because we don’t have enough of that business yet. We need a more diverse strategy.”

    Quantum this week reported revenue for last quarter of $163 million, well below the $170 million to $180 million it forecasted for the quarter. The vendor lost $3 million for the quarter. “We clearly did not deliver the growth we expected,” Belluzzo said.

    Belluzzo said Quantum struggled mightily in Europe and one geographic area of North America. The vendor made some realignment in its sales force, but will concentrate on pushing its DXi disk backup, StorNext software and tape library products through the channel. Quantum hopes to win partners looking for an alternative to Data Domain’s dedupe line now that EMC owns it and are frustrated with Oracle’s handling of the Sun tape platform.

    It now appears unlikely that Quantum will sign any more major deduplication OEMs to replace the deal it lost with EMC after EMC bought Data Domain. Quantum did announce one OEM deal in January (believed to be Fujitsu) but is now more channel focused.

    “Don’t expect any imminent changes in what we’re doing today, and that’s mostly driving branded business,” Belluzzo said. “Our disk and software and StorNext platform will have various partners and maybe OEMs associated with them, but we think we have plenty to work with.

    “It was a disappointing quarter with the economy, but underlying this we are making progress around the core tenets of our strategy. That’s growing our branded business and taking advantage of channel disruption.”

    A longer term goal for Quantum is to expand its data reduction capabilities beyond deduplication for backup. Primary data reduction is a hot topic with storage vendors these days and Quantum has designs on that space.

    “We are driving our architecture and technology into a world where deduplication becomes more common in various tiers,” Belluzzo said. “That basically calls for the process to become more about data reduction than deduplication. We can take a stream of data that has lot of influences, and respond accordingly to get bet overall result. There is a lot of thinking and technical work underway to move our architecture into a world that is different than what we see today.”

    July 29, 2010  2:48 PM

    IBM grabs Storwize for primary compression

    Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

    IBM made its long-rumored acquisition of primary data compression vendor Storwize today. Word first got out more than a month ago that IBM would pay $140 million for the privately held Storwize as storage vendors are moving to put together their primary data reduction strategies.

    IBM expects the deal to close by the end of September. It did not disclose financial terms.
    The IBM-Storwize acquisition comes less than two weeks after Dell bought Ocarina Networks, which had been seen as Storwize’s main competitor although the vendors use different methods to shrink data.

    The Storwize STN-6000 appliance works with NAS systems, including the IBM N series (rebranded NetApp storage) and Scale Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS).

    In a letter emailed to “friends of Storwize” today, Storwize CEO Ed Walsh said IBM will continue selling Storwize’s STN-6000 appliance while expanding the platform. Storwize has been working on adding block storage reduction to go with its traditional file compression, and that apparently will continue under IBM.

    “Storwize will continue to sell and deploy its STN-6000 series of products and support CIFS and NFS protocols,” Walsh wrote. “Additionally, the Storwize product will continue to evolve to support additional storage systems and additional protocols. … Under IBM we will continue to deliver capacity optimization without compromise to you, across more storage platforms, and to additional new customers.“

    IBM’s press release issued today said it found Storwize attractive because it compresses primary data – files, virtualization images, and databases – and lets customers store up to five times more.
    IBM already has backup deduplication technology in its ProtectTier virtual tape library (VTL) software and Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) application.

    IBM claimed Storwize has more than 100 customers including Mobileye, Polycom Israel, Shopzilla, and Sumitomo Mitsui Construction.

    For more on this story, check out

    July 28, 2010  1:17 PM

    Startup targets laptop backup

    Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

    Druva Software is in the process of moving headquarters from India to the U.S. with designs on conquering the laptop backup world.

    Druva last week released its inSync 4.0 backup software, which the vendor claims has application-aware data deduplication designed to work at the logical block or object level. Druva founder and CEO Jaspreet Singh compares it to EMC Avamar, but built specifically for laptops (EMC added laptop support for Avamar last year).

    “We’re application aware, so we understand the file format,” Singh said. “We can actually go through APIs from Microsoft to understand the PST format, and dedupe at the message level or attachment level. We can dedupe across applications and at the source.”

    inSync 4.0 also has a new embedded storage engine that supports 16 TB of deduped data per server and 200 parallel connections. The product is based on the NoSQL Berkeley Database (BDB) that Druva OEMs from Oracle. BDB uses a small storage library instead of SQL optimizer layer, according to Singh, making it easier to download and install. Its new WAN optimization engine will choose the best packet size to control the amount of bandwidth uses and reduce latency, Singh says.

    “There’s a lot of software for backing up servers that was modified to work with PCs, and then modified to work with laptops,” Singh said. “None were made specifically for laptops. But data backup is much more tricky than PCs. A person is either working or has the laptops switched off, so there’s no ideal time to back up a laptop.”

    Is there room for another backup software player, even if it does specialize in an underserved market like laptop data protection? Singh says a few large organizations are using inSync, and he’s negotiating OEM deals with two North American partners to achieve wider distribution and product recognition. “The two issues we face are branding and pricing,” he said, an admission that inSync’s price of $55 per laptop license ($65 with support) is not cheap.

    Druva recently received $5 million in funding from Sequoia Capital, and Singh said the three-year-old company will work out of the Sequoia Menlo Park, Calif. office until it sets up a U.S. headquarters. “We’re moving management and key sales people to U.S.,” he said. “We will be more-or-less a U.S. company.”

    July 26, 2010  4:45 PM

    Oracle makes first Sun tape library upgrade

    Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

    In April, Oracle executives promised their largest Sun StorageTek tape customers enhancements that would help them scale their enterprise libraries to keep up with rapid data growth.

    Today they started delivering on those promises with scalability and high availability enhancements. The SL8500 Modular Library System – the largest in the platform — now scales to 100,000 tape slots, up from 70,000. The SL8500 also now supports LTO-5 tape cartridges with 1.5 TB of native capacity. With the improvements, the SL8500 can scale to 1.5 PB of native capacity – more than twice its previous capacity.

    Oracle also added redundant hot swappable robotics and library control cards to the SL8500 with automatic failover capabilities.

    Oracle product marketing manager Tom Wultich said the focus of the upgrade was helping the largest enterprises that use the SL8500 keep up with data growth.

    Tape drives double in capacity every two years, but data is growing faster than that,” Wultich said. “Our largest customers need to be able to keep up with that growth, so we’re offering nearly three times an improvement in capacity.”

    July 22, 2010  4:14 PM

    Overland adds tape library, SnapServer NAS

    Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

    Overland Storage today took the next steps in its rejuvenation plan by rolling out larger versions of its LTO tape library and SnapServer multiprotocol storage system.

    The NEO 8000e scales to 3 PB of capacity with 1,000 cartridges and 24 tape drives and supports LTO-5 and LTO-4. The library will eventually replace the NEO 8000 – Overland’s previous high-end library. Besides scaling higher, the differences between the 8000e and 8000 are the 8000e has embedded connectivity with Fibre Channel, SAS and SCSI drives embedded while the 8000 requires bridge cards for each protocol, and the 8000e requires no hardware requirements for partitioning. Overland’s director of product marketing for tape products Peri Grover says the vendor will offer an upgrade kit for 8000 customers who want to go to the 8000e.

    The Neo8000e will compete with enterprise drives from Quantum and the Oracle Sun StorageTek platform.

    “We see a lot of interest from the legacy StorageTek-installed base,” Grover said.

    Pricing starts at $47,999 for the Neo8000e.

    The SnapServer N2000 is the new high end of Overland’s NAS platform, which also supports iSCSI through Microsoft VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Services) and VDS (Virtual Disk Services). The 2U unit is available with four or six Ethernet ports and scales to 144 TB. The previous high end of the SnapServer NAS line, the 850, is a 1U model with four Ethernet ports.

    “This is the top end of our NAS line,” Overland product marketing manager for network storage products Drew O’Brien said. “It’s for customers who need performance and scalability in simple IT environments. Maybe they bought NAS in the consumer space before and now need something more sophisticated.”

    O’Brien says the NS2000 will compete with EMC Iomega and NetGear NAS devices. Pricing starts at $4,999 for 4 TB and $5,999 for 8 TB.

    While these products are a step up from what Overland already had, they’re hardly enough to turn around a company that has suffered heavy financial losses for years. Considering Overland CEO Eric Kelly has put together a distinguished team including VP of engineering Geoff Barrall and VP of sales and marketing Julian Mansolf, we can expect more product rollouts soon.

    July 21, 2010  12:46 PM

    Zetta counts on replication driving cloud adoption

    Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

    Zetta added disaster recovery to its enterprise NAS on-demand service by opening a second data center and giving customers the option of replicating between the two.

    Zetta launched its On-Demand Enterprise Storage cloud last October, using its Santa Clara, CA data center to host customer data. On Tuesday it said it has opened a second data center in Secaucus, NJ, giving customers an option to store data on the West or East Coast. Whatever data center they choose for their primary data, customers can replicate to the other data center.

    Zetta’s pricing for primary volumes starts at 25 cents per GB per month and it charges another 15 cents per GB per month for a replica copy.

    Zetta claims replicated storage volumes appear as fully mounted and accessible read-only volumes, giving customers access to data from both data centers at once. If the primary volume becomes unavailable, the second volume assumes read and write status and customers can treat it as primary data.

    Zetta automatically replicates data with no user interaction, and the startup claims replicated data can be mounted for immediate use when required.

    “Usually when a company wants a replica of data, it has to sign up a new data center,” Zetta CEO Jeff Treuhaft said. “We give them a one-click route of replicating that data in a separate geo zone and separate facility. We think this will attract people to the use case of primary data in the cloud.”

    Treuhaft says the second data center also lets companies in the eastern U.S. stay closer to their data, which he says can improve performance because read and write requests will take less time to complete.

    Like other smaller companies trying to make it as a cloud provider, Zetta faces the challenge of taking on providers such as Amazon, AT&T and Verizon. But Zetta also faces competition from primary NAS vendors such as NetApp and EMC. Treuhaft says Zetta is growing its footprint of stored data between 6% and 8% each week, but declined to say how many customers the startup has.

    StorageIO analyst Greg Schulz says Zetta has a well focused target market and could get a boost from the DR option.

    “These guys have as much of a shot at making it as any of the others, perhaps even an edge in their approach that can be used for public or private deployment with integrated replication and data integrity,” he said. “Some of their competitors are off elephant hunting looking for big game deals while others are trying to play to the for free market as opposed to having a solution affordable to deploy with their cloud point of presence approach.

    “They have some legs, let’s see if and how they can use them now to survive in a market sector about to undergo change and transformation in the not so distant future.”

    July 20, 2010  4:48 PM

    Newcomer Actifio targets ‘unified protection,’ data management

    Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

    Remember AppIQ, the SRM startup that Hewlett-Packard acquired in 2005? Well, AppIQ’s founders Ash Ashutosh and David Chang are back with another startup. This time, they’re looking to help manage data in virtual environments.

    Their company, Actifio, today closed an $8 million A funding round led by North Bridge Venture Partners and Greylock Partners. CEO Ashutosh, who also served as chief technologist for HP’s StorageWorks after the AppIQ deal, says Actifio will ship its first product around October. He’s not giving much away yet, except to say the market his new company is addressing is Data Management Virtualization. Acitifio’s press release says its patent pending technology “delivers unified data protection, disaster recovery and business continuity across the data lifecycle for virtual and physical IT environments.”

    Ashutosh says Actifio will start out completely channel focused for sales, and has been working with five large resellers for months. But he says his startup will partner as much as possible with storage array vendors. “Our goal is to completely change — yet co-exist with — what is out there” he said.

    The 50-person Waltham, MA-based company has been in stealth for 18 months. It’s other executives include VP of products Chang, VP of marketing Steven Blumenau (formerly at EMC), VP of sales Rick Nagengast (former of EMC, DEC and Compaq) and customer operations manager James Pownell (formerly of EMC and founder of ExaGrid Systems).

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