Computer memory vendor SMART Modular Technologies is joining the solid state drive market with what it calls enterprise-grade multi-level cell (MLC) SSDs to challenge STEC and PCI Express flash to take on Fusion-io.
SMART, a public company based in Newark, CA, today said its enterprise MLCs are available for OEM partners to test. The vendor already has PCI Express NAND cards sampling with OEMs, but no design wins.
SMART’s XceedIOPS SATA is available in 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch form factors and ranging in capacity from 25 GB to 400 GB. SMART uses SandForce’s SF-1500 SSD controller and Micron’s raw Flash chips, according to SMART marketing director Esther Spanjer.
Single-level cell (SLC) XceedIOPS SSDs are also available, but Spanjer says most of the interest from SMART’s prospective OEM partners is for the enterprise MLC drives.
When SSD drives first made their way into enterprise storage last year, MLC devices were considered inadequate because they wear out faster than SLCs. But vendors such as STEC, Fusion-io and now SMART have worked on increasing the reliability of MLCs to make them viable lower-cost alternatives to SLCs for the enterprise.
SSD reliability is measured by program/erase (P/E) cycles, the higher the better. SMART claims its MLCs have program/erase cycles of 20,000, which is about double the industry accepted figures for MLC devices but still about one-fifth of the SLC P/E cycles.
SMART’s press release issued today says the drives are the first enterprise-level MLCs, but that’s not the case. STEC has been sampling its enterprise MLCs since August. Spanjer says SMART will offer its MLCs SSDs at a much lower price than STEC. XceedIOPS costs $400 for a 50GB card and $1,300 for 100 GB (the same price as for a 200 GB SLC device). STEC hasn’t announced pricing for its MLC SSDs, which run up to 800 GB.
SMART is also working on SAS interfaces for SSDs and while Spanjer said she couldn’t divulge too much about future products, she says its unlikely that the vendor will make a Fibre Channel SSD to compete with STEC. “It seems like the Fibre Channel market is phasing out,” she said. “I don’t think anybody in their right mind would come out with a Fibre Channel drive.”
She said SMART is sampling its SSDs with enterprise storage vendors and expects OEMs to start shipping the drives this year. SMART’s PCI Express Flash cards have been sampling since the fourth quarter, and could start shipping with OEMs by mid-year. Spanjer wouldn’t say which OEMs are testing the SSDs, but SMART counts Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, and Dell as its largest DRAM customers.
Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Mark Peters says he’s not familiar with SMART, but knows of the SandForce controller and sees an opening for enterprise MLC because of its cost advantages over SLC. “The SandForce controller that SMT is using has great potential from everything I’ve seen,” Peters wrote in an email to Storage Soup.
Peters sees a layered approach to SSDs developing. “We will have a hierarchy of SSD, much as we do of HDDs today so there’s room for plenty of choices to exist in the market,” he wrote. “SLC is pretty much limited to the high end data processing world, which represents a very small part of the overall solid state memory consumption. Longer term, this could mean SLC might not be manufactured (although for now my industry contacts say there’s enough demand to sustain it), but would almost certainly mean a relatively higher price on the SLC media, compared to the ‘standard’ MLC (or whatever it will be in a few years).”
EMC today became the first storage company to make an acquisition in 2010, although its acquisition of Archer Technologies falls mostly outside the storage space.
EMC will sell Archer’s IT governance software as part of its RSA security division. The vendor did not disclose the acquisition price.
Archer makes a set of software products as well as a framework that ties them all together. The Policy, Risk, Compliance, Enterprise, Incident, Vendor, Threat, Business Continuity, and Audit Management software titles and the Archer SmartSuite Framework are designed to automate corporate compliance policies, analyze risks and demonstrate compliance with regulations.
According to an EMC press release, Archer has more than six million licensed users and a client list that includes 25 of the Fortune 100. The Archer portfolio will be integrated with RSA’s data loss prevention (DLP) and security information and event management (SIEM) products, as well as EMC’s Ionix data center orchestration suite. Archer products also will be sold as software as a service (SaaS), in keeping with EMC/VMware’s various cloud computing initiatives.
Archer brings with it a business continuity software module, which could affect those who manage disaster recovery in the storage environment. It also extends EMC’s move to inject automation into its software offerings, which we’ve seen in the storage market with last month’s first release of FAST, and is a part of EMC’s vision for archiving and e-Discovery.
RSA senior product manager Paul Stamp said in an email to Storage Soup that Archer will also have some relevance within EMC’s Content Management and Archiving platform. “Archer complements what EMC does within the Content Management & Archiving division because it can check [governance, risk and compliance] GRC against internal and external policies, delivering a CIO or CISO a view on compliance with policies,” he wrote. “CM&A does eDiscovery and information governance via solutions such as SourceOne and Kazeon, both of which are complementary to Archer and EMC’s larger GRC strategy.”
According to a court filing uncovered last week by the New York Times, an ex-Seagate employee has delivered significant new testimony in an ongoing patent dispute between his former employer and a firm called Convolve.
The former employee, Paul Galloway, has reportedly signed an affidavit which is summarized and quoted in the court filing, saying Seagate not only stole Convolve’s noise-reduction technology but has destroyed evidence relevant to the ongoing litigation. The suit, first brought by Convolve and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where the disputed technology was invented, is pending in a federal district court in Texas.
The filing says Galloway came forward in late November after having appeared previously as a witness for Seagate in the lawsuit. Now no longer employed by Seagate, Galloway says he and other engineers in Seagate’s servo group were given information about Convolve’s technology without being told it was supposed to be under NDA. Galloway further alleged Seagate had destroyed or hid a laptop containing his relevant work on the technology, “corrupted” source code blueprints it produced to prove Convolve’s technology hadn’t been stolen, and claimed minutes from a meeting where the Convolve technology was disseminated among Seagate engineers have gone missing.
This most recent testimony was filed in a federal district court in Manhattan, according to the Times. A conference is scheduled for the trial later this month, but it’s unclear whether Galloway’s testimony will be discussed at that meeting.
Clustered NAS vendor Exanet has received a lifeline of cash intended to keep it alive long enough to get acquired, according to Israeli business newspaper Globes.
Globes reports Exanet’s shareholders put up $450,000 to cover operating expenses for around two months for the Israeli-based vendor. The investors’ move came 10 days after Exanet told its 62 employees it would close down, and the employees asked the Tel Aviv District Court to appoint a temporary liquidator because they said the company owes them $1 million. The court then ordered investors to invest the extra funds.
According to Globes, Exanet will continue with 35 employees and six support staff while investors seek a buyer. One candidate to buy the company is Dell, which Globes said discussed investing in Exanet as part of a development deal over the past year. Dell sells EMC’s Celerra NAS and has its own line of Windows-based NAS but does not have a clustered NAS product.
Struggling tape vendor Overland Storage is battling to keep its listing on the Nasdaq Stock Market despite missing its Dec. 14 deadline to get its minimum value of shares above $15 million.
Overland last Friday night requested an appeal before a Nasdaq Hearings Panel, automatically delaying the delisting of its common stock until the panel makes a ruling. The hearings panel can grant Overland an additional 180 days to regain compliance.
According to a press release issued by Overland Monday night, “Any delisting of [Overland’s] common stock by Nasdaq could adversely affect [Overland’s] ability to attract new investors, decrease the liquidity of the outstanding shares of common stock, reduce its flexibility to raise additional capital, reduce the price at which such shares trade and increase the transaction costs inherent in trading such shares with overall negative effects for [Overland’s] shareholders.”
In other words, it would likely force Overland to go under or go private. Overland executives have already made it clear the company will need extra financing to survive. The company’s tape business has been losing money for years, and it’s recent move into disk-based backup and Snap NAS servers hasn’t been able to save it. Overland has cut staff over the past few years, and last year named former Snap chief Eric Kelly its CEO.
Overland lost $3.7 million on income of $19.3 million last quarter. Over the last four quarters, it lost $14.9 million on $93 million in revenue.
Overland’s stock is trading at $1.95 a share following a recent one-for-three reverse split but the total value remains about $2 million below the $15 million threshold.
Last Friday we published our annual “What to buy a geek for the holidays” story, which included advice from a panel of geek experts on what types of gadgets non-technical types can impress them with this holiday season.
As we were soliciting suggestions for consumer items, however, some enterprise selections also found their way in, many of them quite clever.
So, without further ado, the things storage pros are hoping for that you won’t find in any store.
“How about an [IBM] XIV that I can attach an Redundant Array of Solar Panels (RASP) to and heat my Ice Fishing house while storing some photos and videos of the fish that got away?” quipped StorageIO analyst Greg Schulz.
Added Wikibon’s David Vellante:
- A secure cloud
- A dumpster to haul all my backup tapes that I’ve converted to disk-based backup.
- A primary storage device that optimizes capacity without sacrificing performance.
- A virtualization performance guru … make it 5 gurus …
Wikibon security analyst Michael Versace had an even more ambitious gift idea:
I’d buy the RSA Security/VCE vision for how to secure the journey to the cloud. I see the current strategy as best-in-class. I’ve heard, read, and dug into the strategy for those that purport to have a cloud security framework, and other than RSA, they are all either as clear as mud, after-the-fact, completely proprietary, or marketware. Questions for RSA/VCE remain around delivery, strength, messaging, and priorities in their roadmap.
Finally, Enterprise Strategy Group’s Bob Laliberte treated us to a rendition of the 12 Days of Storage:
12 Virtual desktops
11 Snapshots of your data
10 Gig Ethernet
9 FCoE Converged Network Adapters Converging
8 Backups that actually work
7 Endpoint security devices
6 Types of de duplication
5 Token Rings
4 internal private clouds
3 tiers of storage
And a Policy engine with a decision tree
You can read the rest of our (perhaps more attainable) gift suggestions here.
P.S. Another holiday gem came our way via Quantum Corp. this morning — an original song they recorded to bolster their competitive claims. They’ve given us permission to post it here online — think of it as our gift to you. Click here to hear the Quantum song.
P.P.S. UK storage pro Martin Glassborow also has a series of posts at his Storagebod blog detailing wish lists for specific vendors, including HP and EMC, as well as a roundup of vendor bloggers’ wishes as well…
This morning, analyst David Ferris of Ferris Research sent out a note to subscribers of his Ferris News Service relating rumors that “something is rotten in Denmark” with Dell’s SaaS email archiving subsidiary MessageOne.
According to Ferris’s note–
We’re hearing a series of rumors that something is going badly wrong at Dell/MessageOne. Eg:
- They’ve lost a huge amount of customer archived email over the past couple of weeks
- Many customers are making inquiries about other vendors and their ability to ingest/absorb their historic archive data
- One vendor told us they had been asked to help customers move their emails back from Dell/MessageOne and the most efficient way to ingest large amounts of data (10 TB for example)
Our industry sources confirm that there are indeed MessageOne customers making such inquiries, though the exact severity or root cause of the problem has not been established. Several sources say there has been data loss, though it’s not known how much or how many customers are affected.
One thing all our sources agree on is that over the past month or so — and especially in the last week — customers have had difficulty accessing archived email in Dell/MessageOne’s cloud, either because the data has been lost or because it has been mis-indexed. On top of that, sources say customers have been frustrated with the support they’ve received so far in response to this problem and are looking for ways to move off the service without being penalized.
UPDATE: After business hours on the East Coast last Friday, Dell responded with the following statement through a spokesperson:
Dell is committed to delivering ongoing customer satisfaction – we are aware of the issue and are in contact with the customer who has expressed concern over Dell’s service. There are many factors associated with successful email archiving including email formatting, storage management and retention policy frequency, and we are working with the customer to isolate the root cause of this issue.
Note the use of singular nouns — particularly “customer.” Earlier reports seem to indicate a widespread problem, but Dell’s statement seems to imply otherwise. We’ve asked them for further clarification, but given it’s a holiday week, aren’t sure if we’ll hear back.
UPDATE 2: Dell has responded declining further comment.
After more than two years of trying to push out Adaptec CEO Sundi Sundaresh, minority investor Steel Partners finally succeeded Thursday. Sundaresh resigned and Steel Partners installed its managing directors John Quicke as acting CEO and president with the intention of selling Adaptec.
The question is, who will buy and what’s left of the company to sell off? It’s no secret that Adaptec’s business has gone south in recent years. Adaptec lost $14 million for its last fiscal year that ended in March. It lost $1.8 million last quarter, and revenue dwindled to $18.4 million – down from $32 million the previous year.
Maybe a vendor looking to beef up its SAS RAID business – perhaps PMC Sierra – will want Adaptec’s core business. Or Adaptec might spin off one of its new interesting products — the MaxIQ hybrid solid state/hard drive storage system.
But the most valuable part of Adaptec isn’t its technology. It’s cash. Adaptec ended last quarter with $386 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities. That’s more than 90% of its market cap of $416 million. So even if a buyer steps up, don’t assume it will view Adaptec’s technology as a valuable asset.
Last podcast before the holiday break. Hope everybody has a safe and happy holiday and a great New Year!
Virtual Instruments, a spinoff from optic communication and test and measurement equipment maker Finisar, is packaging its VirtualWisdom and NetWisdom tools into an “emergency SAN troubleshooting service” called SOS-4-SAN.
Virtual Instruments created the NetWisdom software (along with VirtualWisdom, which accounts for virtual server traffic) that can be used standaone to report on FC SAN performance or combine with Finisar’s Traffic Analysis Point (TAP) network sniffer that sits between a switch and FC SAN. With or without a TAP, the software copies FC SAN traffic, strips away the payload, and dumps header information into a database for analysis and diagnostics.
VI has gotten these tools into some large shops, such as Unilever, the parent company of several household name brands, including Bertolli pasta, Lipton Tea, Slim-Fast diet drinks and Dove soap. Unilever’s SAN vendor Hewlett-Packard brought VI into that installation. After seeing it at work, Unilever’s staff installed NetWisdom permanently in its 5 PB UK data center.
Seems like a pretty good path to market for VI (similar to the one taken by Procedo, which performs compliant data archive migrations and is recommended to customers by major vendors in that market), but this week Virtual Instruments is offering its troubleshooting tools as a managed service, with its own website, www.sos4sans.com.
“Many Global 2000 customers are not satisfied with the SAN troubleshooting skills of their current SAN component vendors,” VI VP of marketing Len Rosenthal said. “These vendors really only have visibility into their components (HBAs, switches, cabling, arrays) and, unlike Virtual Instruments, they don’t have the ability to measure transaction traffic flows and error conditions across the entire SAN infrastructure.”
However, the partner business isn’t going away, Rosenthal added. “Some of the larger vendors are beginning to resell VI services as a part of their global service offerings,” he said. “We are planning to work with more of them in the near future to either resell our services or train them to offer SAN troubleshooting services themselves using the NetWisdom and VirtualWisdom products.”
According to a VI press release, customers put in a request via website form or phone, and “a qualified Virtual Instruments services professional will immediately respond at no charge to the customer.” The VI services pro runs through a checklist of common problems to try and determine the severity of the problem. If necessary, VI personnel will travel to the customer site and remain there until the issues are resolved. Fees include a daily rate plus expenses for the services engineers.