A new company has emerged from stealth in the cloud data storage industry this week at Cloud Expo. TwinStrata Inc. is previewing what it calls its “cloud enablement strategy” today, though it’s not disclosing product details yet.
One thing TwinStrata’s product is not, according to CEO Nicos Vekiarides, is a cloud storage service. Instead, the company bills itself as a Storage Cloud Enablement specialist.
In its slide deck for press, TwinStrata listed the key requirements for Storage Cloud Enablement as the following:
•Non-disruptive integration w/existing business + data protection apps
•Supports all industry file systemsandblock-level access
•Intelligent caching architecture, delivers local performance
•Supports virtual and physical IT environments
•Easy to deploy, manage in self-service manner via UI, CLI and API
•Compute AnywhereTMapplication accessibility: on/off-premise, cloud
•Local and cloud data copies, zero-footprint snapshots
•Encryption for security
•Bandwidth savings via caching, compression, deduplication
•Support multiple cloud providers,with data mobility across providers
•Support providers that offer SLAs for regulatory & compliance
These aren’t confirmed product features, but the picture that’s emerging for me is a cloud gateway similar to Nasuni or StorSimple. Analysts have described these hybrid cloud gateways as the next frontier for file virtualization, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see more competitors enter this space this year.
Whatever the product turns out to be, TwinStrata says it will target medium-sized businesses (which it defines as companies with between $25 million and $99 million in annual revenue) and midsized enterprises ($100 million – $999 million).
Here’s another new twist on converged networking: the InfiniBand Trade Association (IBTA) has released a new specification for building Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) into 10-Gigabit Data Center Ethernet (DCE) networks.
InfiniBand providers claim their value proposition is the same as Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) — the ability to combine multiple types of network traffic over one wide pipe. But according to Brian Sparks, senior director of marketing communications at Mellanox and co-chair of the IBTA’s Marketing Working Group, RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE, pronounced “Rocky”) can theoretically be run over DCE alongside Fibre Channel traffic. “With priority flow control in DCE, you can do both, but it’s up to the NIC provider,” Sparks said.
Sparks said Mellanox is planning to release products that support RoCE, and that other members of the IBTA manufacturers including Broadcom, Intel and Chelsio, may be working on 10-gigE NICs that support RoCE as well. The IBTA envisions RoCE finding use cases in financial services companies or businesses with a similar reliance on databases and low tolerance for latency.
IBTA is also hoping this spec will fare better than its last attempt to drive RDMA into the Ethernet world, a spec for RDMA over 1 Gigabit Ethernet iSCSI links called iSER, known in its Intel incarnation as iWARP. “It’s had a hard time getting market adoption, since the adapters are a little high on the power side,” Sparks said. “They require a slightly more expensive NIC and maybe only get a microsecond or two latency benefit.”
RoCE will be different, Sparks said, because latency is much improved over 10-Gig networks, and DCE will do away with the need to offload TCP/IP traffic, one of the hindrances to better performance with iWARP.
While product news was slim at spring SNW this week, there were vendors and other groups on hand to share roadmap details and discuss industry trends. Some tidbits of those conversations:
Fibre Channel Industry Association
Despite the rise of iSCSI and the emergence of 10-gigabit Ethernet, enhanced Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) is charging ahead on its road map for at least the next decade.
The FC storage networking vendors who make up the FCoE say 16 Gbps FC products are just around the corner, with demonstrations anticipated by fall SNW, a 16-gig plugfest by the end of this year and shipping products by late 2011 or early 2012. The FCIA roadmap also calls for 32 Gbps devices by late 2014.
And it won’t stop there. QLogic director of technology Skip Jones, who chairs the FCIA, says the goal is for 1 Tbps FC interswitch links (ISL) by around 2000.
Jones also says the FCIA is committed to optimizing FC’s role in emerging FCoE technology although he says FCoE so far is mostly hype that has created “a trough of disillusionment that’s bigger than the Grand Canyon,” Jones said. “We’re pushing storage networks, regardless of how you pipe them. We want to see a good user experience.”
The FCIA is also working on a projected proposal called FC-SCM (simplified configuration and management), which includes a limited set of capabilities aimed at making FC easier to manage for remote offices.
One FC roadmap has hit a dead end, though. Development of FC disk drives has stopped at 4 Gbps. “That’s becoming uninteresting to us,” Jones said. “What we care about is having more spindles to manage.”
Sepaton’s backup boxes have been virtual tape libraries (VTL) from day one, meaning they use Fibre Channel connectivity and sell primarily to enterprises. But that could be changing with the vendor’s embracing of Symantec’s NetBackup OpenStorage (OST) API. Symantec hasn’t certified Sepaton’s OST support yet, but Sepaton did a demonstration at Symantec Vision this week running backups directly to disk without tape emulation by using OST on a S2100-E2 VTL running DeltaStor deduplication software.
Sepaton VP of worldwide marketing Jay Kramer says OST support will open the door for Sepaton to run over 10-Gigabit Ethernet, and eventually NFS and CIFS NAS protocols.
“OST is a great complementary technology to the direction we’re going,” Kramer said. “OST treats disk as disk, rather than as a tape cartridge. This is a start for us to move to open formats, and we have other things coming.”
Kramer says Sepaton still expects a strong demand for FC VTLs, but NAS support will make it more competitive with EMC’s Data Domain in midrange shops. Data Domain’s NAS interface is one reason it has dominated that market.
Kramer says he’s not impressed with Data Domain’s new Global Deduplication Array, calling it a “bolt-on” product and pointing out that Sepaton supports eight clustered nodes with full dedupe and replication. Data Domain’s GDA clusters two nodes through OST.
While Ocarina Networks is known as a primary data deduplication vendor, its vice president of products Carter George says there are customers using Ocarina for backup. George also said Ocarina is pursuing OEM deals with major vendors to use Ocarina reduction technology in NAS, iSCSI and object storage array systems, as well as on backup appliances.
“Our strategy is to get our stuff built into end user products,” George says.
While tape vendors are pitching their medium as the best way to archive, CommVault direct of cloud solutions Jeff Echols says tape will get a run for its money from the cloud.
Echols says a good deal of the interest in CommVault’s Cloud Connector option is from customers looking to archive data.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest in archiving to the cloud instead of tape,” Echols said. “Long-term, this is going to be real interesting for tape.”
Avere CEO Ron Bianchini says he misread the market when first launching his tiered NAS systems last year, but he doesn’t regret it.
Avere first came to market with two boxes containing SAS and flash solid state drives (SSDs) last year, and planned to follow with a bigger version of those systems. But Bianchini says talking to early customers and potential customers changed his mind, and the FXT 2700 that Avere came out with in January consisted of only SSD and RAM without any spinning disk.
“About 85 percent of the people we talked to already have Fibre Channel spindles and the system runs great the first and second months of the quarter, and rolls over and dies in the last month when orders come flooding in,” he said. “They wanted only SSDs to improve performance. I went to market expecting to sell one thing and got pulled in a completely different direction.”
Bianchini says Avere will issue a software upgrade this year improving its management features and user interface.
LSI demonstrated new software capabilities for its MegaRAID SAS controllers to optimize performance of direct attached storage (DAS) systems running SSDs. FastPath is designed to improve transactional application throughput to up to 150,000 IOPS while CacheCade is tiering software that turns SSD into a secondary tier of cache to improve transactional I/O performance. LSI claims CacheCade will significantly improve performance of OLTP and server workloads, and other read-sensitive applications.
An interesting tidbit from host-based replication, iSCSI SAN and boot-from-SAN vendor Double-Take Software Inc.’s quarterly earnings forecast press release this week:
Double-Take…has received unsolicited, non-binding, written conditional indications of interest to acquire the Company at prices above recent trading prices of its shares. The Company’s Board of Directors, in consultation with its financial and legal advisors, is reviewing these indications of interest, and considering other possible strategic transactions. There can be no assurance that any transaction will occur, that any transaction involving a purchase of the Company that may occur would be at or above the prices stated in the indications of interest or as to the timing of any transactions that may occur. Double-Take does not expect to make further public comments regarding these matters unless and until it enters into a definitive agreement with respect to a transaction or determines that none will be pursued.
Meanwhile, the first calendar quarter of 2010 finished “weaker than expected” for Double-Take, which now expects first quarter revenue to be in the range of $18.8 million to $18.9 million, compared to its previous guidance of $20.0 million to $21.2 million. The new forecast is down from $22.8 million in revenue in the previous quarter and up a bit from last year’s $18.2 million. Double-Take will officially report earnings May 4.
The release quoted CEO Dean Goodermote saying “although we are evaluating expressions of interest in the company, we continue to plan for a strong independent future.”
Symantec announced at its Symantec Vision show today in Las Vegas that it will add new support for more third-party disk arrays under its Veritas Thin Reclamation API, part of its Thin Optimization features for Storage Foundation.
Three array partners, 3PAR, IBM and HDS, had already integrated with the API prior to this announcement. This week, Symantec is announcing support for EMC’s Clariion (Symmetrix to follow by the end of the year), HP’s XP24000 (EVA to be determined), as well as arrays from Fujitsu, NetApp and Compellent (the latter still to come later this month).
The API helps Veritas File System (VxFS), which underpins Storage Foundation, and storage arrays communicate which blocks have been deleted and can be freed up and put back into the storage pool. Symantec’s Thin Optimization can also help users perform “thin migrations” from a thick-provisioned to a thin-provisioned array.
Some of the array vendors offer similar features natively — HDS, for example, offers what it calls Zero Page Reclaim, and Compellent offers Thin Import. Symantec claims its approach is more efficient than these native tools. “The reality is that typically unused storage is delted or overwritten, but not written over with all zeroes,” said vice president of product management Josh Kahn. “That makes things like zero-page reclaim less efficient.”
Kahn said Symantec is testing the Thin Reclamation API to get some statistics on the amount of additional capacity users can reclaim with it, but doesn’t yet have those specific numbers.
“The big advantage to this is migrating data from thick to thin, and it’s a pretty efficient tool for heterogeneous environments,” said Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) analyst Bob Laliberte. “Whether it’s efficient enough to use in tandem with a storage vendor is a question of whether you’re an existing Symantec shop.”
IBM published details of its forthcoming Easy Tier automated tiered storage feature for the DS8700 on its website Tuesday, and spilled another couple of beans on upcoming storage product announcements along the way:
New replication for DS8000, ProtecTIER
Also detailed on IBM’s website along with the Easy Tier announcement were some updates to other products in IBM’s storage portfolio, including new replication features for the DS8000 series and a new many-to-one replication feature for the TS 7650 ProtecTIER data deduplication virtual tape library (VTL) IBM acquired with Diligent in 2008.
New granularity has been added to IBM’s Global Mirror feature for DS8000 arrays to support application-by-application failover; previously the entire DS8000 system had to be failed over at once. A feature already added to the DS8100 and DS8300 called Remote Pair Flash Copy will also be added to the DS8700 with this announcement. According to an IBM spokesperson, “Remote Pair FlashCopy option provides the ability to copy data from a remote mirror and copy source volume and have it be immediately reflected on the remote mirror and copy target volume.”
This brings ProtecTIER into even closer competition with EMC / Data Domain’s data deduplication arrays, which has also been announcing new replication features, including support this week for one-to-many replication for its DD series arrays.
2 TB SATA, LTO-5 boost disk and tape system capacities
IBM, like competitor Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), will be launching new software features as it adds support for the LTO-5 format to its tape libraries; in IBM’s case, software it developed called the Long Term File System, which allows users to track data in tape archives, will be shipped as a no-charge standard feature on TS2250 and TS2350 LTO-5 tape drives. Pricing for the TS2250 drives, which will ship April 16, starts at $3622.The TS2350 will GA April 23 starting at $4825. IBM will also support LTO-5 drives within the TS3500 tape library April 16, and within the TS3100 and TS3200 libraries May 21.
Finally, 2 TB SATA drive support within IBM’s XIV array will become generally available April 22. Pricing was not available for the new XIV as of press time.
The online backup company formerly known as Data Deposit Box is branching out into new cloud-based IT services and relaunching under a new name, KineticD.
Data Deposit Box’s online backup and recovery service will now be known as KineticD Secure. A new service launched along with the new branding this week, KineticD Extend, is a hosted VPN service that allows users to remotely access data over a wide-area network (WAN). KineticD Extend is a part of the same software client users download to send data backups from a machine to the cloud. The machine being remotely accessed needs the client installed, but the access can be done using KineticD’s Web portal.
At first hosted VPN services and online backup might not appear to be related, but KineticD is tying the concepts together as one cloud data storage offering offering online data backup and access to files from anywhere. Files backed up to the KineticD service can also be accessed via the Web portal.
KineticD isn’t exactly in an empty market with this service — well-known competitors such as Citrix GoToMyPC and LogMeIn also provide similar remote access features.
That’s where KineticD and Data Deposit Box founder and CEO Jamie Brenzel says the company plans to compete with larger players on price, and target the SOHO / SMB market. KineticD will charge $2 per gigabyte per month for online storage, and won’t charge software licensing fees. The number of machines that can be backed up to the cloud service is unlimited.
On the online backup side, KineticD also isn’t alone in trying to expand its offerings to attract end users to its service; online backup storage service provider Dmailer is giving away its local backup software for free in an effort to entice customers to sign up for its Dmailer Online services, a move analysts say reflects the fierce competition in this emerging market.
KineticD won’t be making that kind of move, Brenzel said. “The storage market is very competitive, but it’s not about giving things away for free,” he said. “We’re balancing industrial strength solutions with ease of use, and in our market, ease of use trumps free.”
With the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference going on this week in Las Vegas, some storage vendors are polishing their wares for the media and entertainment space, including Atempo Inc. and FalconStor Software.
Atempo’s Digital Archive (ADA) version 3.1 adds updates designed to attract users in the media and entertainment space, a focus for the digital archiving and data backup vendor given its partnership with Apple Inc.
According to director of product marketing and management Marylise Tauzia, ADA 3.1 adds the ability to extract information file headers in MXF format, including time stamp information for video files. “MXF is becoming a standard file format like XML,” Tauzia said. A partnership with a company called OpenCube allows for metadata extraction from the MXF format. The new release also adds dedicated support of media and entertainment industry formats like DPX and MOV (associated with Apple’s QuickTime).
ADA users will also be able to perform partial restore of MXF and MOV files down to the millisecond, Tauzia said, rather than dragging an entire large video file back from the archive.
Finally, ADA 3.1 adds integration into Apple’s Final Cut Server and Final Cut Pro interfaces, so users can right click in the Final Cut Pro menu to restore an item (something akin to Windows Shell scripts available in other archiving platforms). Integration with Final Cut Server has been updated to support metadata export to ADA. In the past, such metadata had to remain on the Final Cut Server, meaning restores had to be performed through that Server. “Now users can restore through the ADA GUI if they prefer,” according to Tauzia. Final Cut Server also groups assets used to make a movie into productions, which previously had to be archived asset by asset — thanks to the new integration, productions can be archived whole.
Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) analyst Brian Babineau pointed out Atempo’s technology could be applied in other industries like oil and gas, “anyplace massive files.”
As a relatively small company, according to Babineau, Atempo “needs to pick [its] battles. Atempo has unique capabilities in media and entertainment, there isn’t a ton of competition in this space, and it allows Atempo to focus its resources.”
In another announcement today, FalconStor unveiled HyperFS for Media and Entertainment, a file system it says was designed for large sequential file access by many clients in multimedia environments. FalconStor previewed HyperFS as a cloud data storage product, but its release this week describes HyperFS as “designed for post-production and broadcasting.” It’s unclear at this point if this represents a repositioning of the product or just one facet of its marketing — stay tuned for more on that front.
*Update 4/13/10* A FalconStor spokesperson sent the following comment about HyperFS positioning overnight:
FalconStor is first focusing on the media and entertainment industry. They will look at how HyperFS may help other industries in the future that have massive amounts of data files.
FalconStor also announced a new OEM for HyperFS yesterday in the media and entertainment space, SeaChange International Inc., which will incorporate the file system into its Universal MediaLibrary product.
It had seemed gutsy of Nexsan to go against the grain by announcing it was filing for an initial public offering (IPO) in April 2008. IPOs were down that year due to fears of recession, even before the housing market collapsed.
Almost two years later, Nexsan announced it is postponing that IPO, citing market conditions:
The news comes two days after close peer Compellent…preannounced a disappointing first quarter, driving its stock down 26%. Nexsan was founded in 2000 and booked $62.7 million in sales for the 12 months ended 12/31/09.
Compellent said last Wednesday it missed its sales projection last quarter, and expects to report revenue of around $31.5 million to $32 million instead of its previous guidance of $35 million to $37 million.