Storage Soup

September 2, 2009  11:43 PM

VMware CTO drops storage hints in futures keynote

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau


VMware Inc. CTO Steve Herrod (above) dropped hints about what’s to come from VMware’s vSphere and VMware Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) products in a keynote that opened VMworld’s Wednesday sessions.

Among the storage-related items:

  • VMware is working with storage vendors to put virtual desktop root disks into high-speed cache on storage arrays for faster boot-up times.
  • Based on a new OEM relationship with RTO Software announced today, virtual desktops can be given individual personalities while their operating systems are managed centrally. This will simplify patching, since each virtual desktop OS doesn’t need to be separately patched, while saving storage space by using a “golden” OS copy. Without the ability to have patches proliferate from the golden copy (which is the case when using space-efficient snapshot environments within storage arrays), users face a choice between patching each copy, potentially exploding storage capacity requirements, or redeploying virtual desktops.
  • VMware and Visa demonstrated mobile device virtualization during the keynote. VMware is developing products that can let mobile devices run applications with data centralized at the corporate data center rather than residing on each endpoint device.
  • VMware’s Distributed Resource Scheduler, which today VMotions virtual machines between physical servers based on power consumption and processing load, will also take into account disk and network I/O. “DRS will combine with tiering algorithms on the storage side to match the application with hardware,” Herrod said.
  • Similarly, VMware’s vApp, which encapsulates multi-tier applications with policy information, will include disaster recovery recovery time objective (RTO) information as well as availability requirements in policy profiles.

Another topic getting a lot of buzz at the show this year is distance VMotion–stay tuned for more on that front.

September 2, 2009  12:16 AM

EMC buys Kazeon to integrate e-discovery platform

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

EMC’s second acquisition this week is less surprising than the first.

A day after buying application image management vendor FastScale Technology on the opening day of VMWorld Monday, EMC today said it would acquire e-discovery software vendor Kazeon Systems. While FastScale is more of a server virtualization play, Kazeon is a mainstream storage product and gives EMC a path to integrating its SourceOne archiving software platform.

When launched in April, EMC’s SourceOne consisted of Email Management (formerly EmailXtender) for email archiving, Discovery Manager for discovery and legal holds on email archives and Discovery Collector to automate data collection in multiple repositories. Discovery Manager and Discovery Collector were separate products, although EMC’s marketing reps suggested they could be integrated over time.

That’s where Kazeon comes in. Lori McKellar, a marketing manager for EMC’s Content Management and Archiving Division division, says EMC bought Kazeon because it handles end-to-end e-discovery.

“It addresses the full e-discovery process,” she said. “It has the ability to cull and review information as well as collect information, and handle litigation hold. It’s the most complete offering.”

EMC already sells Kazeon to add e-discovery capabilities to its Centera CAS and Celerra NAS storage systems. McKeller said Kazeon will become part of the SourceOne platform when the deal closes later this quarter.

EMC currently uses Kazeon rival StoredIQ for its Discovery Collector, but that will almost certainly change. StoredIQ sent word via email after the acquisition news broke that it “still maintains a partner relationship” with EMC and will “continue to work on opportunities” but it appears that relationship and those opportunities will not be the same.

“Kazeon is our primary vendor now [for e-discovery],” McKellar emphasized.

Kazeon has about 80 employees and 275 customers, raised $60 million in funding and signed an OEM deal with EMC rival NetApp during its early days. EMC did not disclose the purchase price, but CEO Aaref Hilaly of Kazeon competitor Clearwell Systems — either playing reporter, or trying to set a price for his company — wrote on his blog the Kazeon price tag was $75 million.

August 31, 2009  7:56 PM

EMC acquires FastScale, deepens connection with VMware

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

It’s strange to think of a parent company finding new ways to grow closer with a subsidiary — after all, an ownership relationship seems about as deep as it gets.

But for years now, VMware and EMC have walked a tightrope between EMC’s ownership of the server virtualization company and VMware’s cooperation with EMC’s competitors. VMware has been careful not to favor EMC storage integrations, for example, over competitors like NetApp.

However, analysts see that picture beginning to shift after two pieces of news from EMC to kick off VMworld. The first was pre-released last week that EMC is now an official reseller of VMware’s AppSpeed application as part of its Ionix data center management portfolio. That’s a part of a wider emphasis at this year’s show on improving virtualized application performance and reliability using reporting and monitoring tools. Virtualization has clearly moved beyond “why” and “how” into “now what?”

This morning at the show, EMC took a step further into VMware’s world by dislosing its acquisition of FastScale, a privately held Santa Clara, Calif. firm which makes software for application image management (AIM).

Taneja Group senior analyst Jeff Boles said he’s intruiged that EMC — rather than VMware — acquired a company with technology that lets you run more virtual machines on your hardware.

“EMC has kept its distance in some ways from VMWare, but I’m under the impression that tide is changing,” Boles said.

FastScale is not a storage product, but Bob Quillin, senior director of product marketing for EMC’s resource management group, wrote in his Infrastructure 2.0 blog of FastScale’s impact on the storage infrastructure: “FastScale increases the relevance to and alignment with VMware by maximizing the density of VM’s that can be run on an ESX (up to 3X the VMs), decreasing memory and disk usage, and thus enabling the most optimal platform for tier-one application delivery,” Quillin wrote.

Another EMC blogger, Chuck Hollis, put it this way: “From a storage perspective, maybe we ought to call it ‘pre-dupe’ rather than ‘de-dupe’?  Compared against what can be done with ordinary disk-based deduplication, we’re now able to go so much farther in terms of footprint reduction — not only on disk, but in memory where it ‘really’ counts.”

Said Boles, “this is a key space to watch — this kind of optimization can have significant implications for the storage infrastructure.”

August 28, 2009  8:30 PM

Photos from Iron Mountain site visit

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Yesterday, Site Editor Andrew Burton and I took a trip to Iron Mountain Digital’s headquarters in Southborough, Mass., for some face-to-face meetings with Iron Mountain Digital’s executives.

Those execs had plenty to tell us about Iron Mountain Digital’s plans for the rest of this year, and for some of 2010, including a project codenamed “Gryphon” that will add data classification capabilities for eDiscovery into the next release of Connected PC Backup.

Some visuals to go along with that story:

Andrew Burton sets up for a video Q&A with Iron Mountain Digital Vice President David Kubick. Note the “Stairway to Heaven” poster behind Kubick–Iron Mountain’s Southborough conference rooms are named for rock bands.

Digital Archiving product marketing manager Claire Lima, who explained to us (see whiteboard) that IMD users with a legal matter can have Iron Mountain feed data from other repositories into Stratify for legal review and production, or if they’re overshooting backup windows with LiveVault. The goal is to have more automated integration between eDiscovery, backup and archiving services going forward.

Iron Mountain Digital President John Clancy, who revealed that former Stratify CEO Ramana Venkata was promoted to chief operating officer a little over a month ago. Bringing three engineering centers in the US and India under Venkata is the first step toward deeper integration between all of Iron Mountain’s data backup, data protection and e-discovery offerings.

Iron Mountain Digital Data Protection senior product marketing manager Jackie Su and director of product management David Asher, who gave us the scoop on plans to integrate data classification IP from Avalere into Connected, LiveVault and Virtual File Store.

August 28, 2009  7:27 PM

08-27-2009 Storage Headlines

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

As mentioned below, it’s been the Week of 8 Gbps FC.

Stories referenced:

(0:24) NetApp begins rollout of Data Ontap 8
NetApp plans SSDs in arrays by end of 2009

(3:26) EMC remakes 8 Gbps FC/10 GbE Clariion provisioning in VMware’s image

(5:09) IBM beefs up midrange storage arrays with 8 Gig FC, iSCSI, self-encrypting drives

(6:49) Iomega launches StorCenter network-attached storage upgrade with Mac support and data replication

(8:12) Spectra Logic’s BlueScale automates data replication across disk and tape with data deduplication

(10:27) VKernel looks to reclaim VMware storage

August 27, 2009  8:01 PM

Emulex and IBM to ship virtual NIC

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Emulex executives said yesterday that IBM has qualified a new Virtual Fabric Adapter for BladeCenter servers, which will allow the consolidation of Ethernet and Fibre Channel connections.

The Virtual Fabric Adapter is a virtual Network Interface Card (NIC) that goes into each blade server in the BladeCenter chassis. Rather than the typical four to six separate IP ports and two Fibre Channel ports, the VFA will run Gigabit Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet traffic streams over four 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Emulex has also added support for Blade Networks’ 10 GbE switch, which connects the BladeCenter to the wider corporate network.

IBM previously announced it will also resell converged networking products from Cisco, Brocade and QLogic. IBM officials also said at the time of that announcement there were plans to add products from Emulex as well, but specifics were not made public until this week.

NetApp is the only storage vendor to announce native Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) interfaces on its disk arrays so far. EMC Corp. and IBM partner LSI Corp. have said they don’t expect significant traction for FCoE in storage arrays until next year. Analysts say they don’t expect FCoE to reach a ‘tipping point’ over Fibre Channel until at least 2011.

August 26, 2009  8:33 PM

Could simpler QA testing bring down the cost of SSDs?

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

The Holy Grail for SSDs is to make SLC performance cost as much as MLC, or, even better, as much as hard disk drives. The CTO of SSD manufacturer STEC says it won’t happen, pointing out that every advance in SLC density will have manifold benefits in MLC. Anyone who’s bought the newest iPhone or iPod knows older technology will almost always be cheaper, so SLC or MLC at the price point of HDD seems an even more far-fetched concept.

However, the CEO of Flexstar Technology, a manufacturer of hard drive, SSD and optical media testing equipment for storage vendors and OEMs, says SSDs do have one cost advantage over spinning media: a less complex, potentially more cost-effective quality testing process.

Currently storage OEMs and manufacturers have to put spinning media through extensive QA tests to make sure they stand up against environmental factors from rotational vibration, shock, ambient temperatures and humidity, according to FlexStar President and CEO Tony Lavia. “It’s not enough to test the drives in a clinically clean environment–each vendor needs to know that the drive will work inside their unique cabinet environments.” This means each vendor has to do its own custom testing and qualification process for spinning media.

From Lavia’s perspective, SSDs, with fewer moving parts, will change that picture. “You don’t have to do custom testing,: he said. “Instead OEMs can tell the drive manufacturers to do testing and only send them the drives that pass.” It also opens the door, Lavia said, to third-party testing companies (like, say, FlexStar).

IDC analyst Jeff Janukowicz said Lavia’s reasoning makes sense. “There are close to 100 SSD companies right now, and they don’t all necessarily have the resources to go out and buy their own testing equipment,” he said. “If those companies don’t require extra capital for testing, they could offer cheaper solutions [to end users].”

But least one emerging SSD vendor disagrees with the “no custom testing” idea. “Not all NAND is created equal,” said Pliant Technology’s vice president of marketing Greg Goelz. “We test rigorously using proprietary tools.”

August 26, 2009  2:01 PM

NetApp plans SSDs in arrays by end of 2009

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

While there was a “flash” of NetApp’s solid state strategy evident in its product launch this week, a big part of it was missing in all the talk of Data Ontap 8 and the vendor’s cloud strategy. The missing part was support for solid state drives (SSD) in NetApp disk arrays. NetApp chief marketing officer Jay Kidd says that’s coming by the end of 2009.

But SSDs in the array are part three of NetApp’s three-part flash strategy. The first part was DRAM-based Performance Acceleration Module (PAM) cards that shipped in February. Now NetApp is rolling out PAM II, which delivers flash memory as cache. The difference in the two PAM cards is the first one has about 10 times faster access times than flash, but costs about 10 times as much. The new flash-based card provide more capacity – the cards come in 256 GB and 512 GB configurations and you can use multiple cards to get up to 4 TB in one system.

“Customers found adding more DRAM cache memory accelerated performance of their workloads, but we had requests for larger capacities,” Kidd said.

Step three will be support for SSDs in arrays, which every other major storage vendor now offers. “We’ll have certification of SSD drives in disk shelves later this year,” Kidd said. “You’ll be able to add them to existing systems, probably with additional disk shelves that support SSD.”

Kidd says NetApp will use SSD drives with native SAS interfaces.

August 25, 2009  10:56 PM

LSI joins 8 Gbps FC party with new disk array

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

There’s a lot of 8 Gbps Fibre Channel going around these days.

LSI Corp. joined EMC Corp. today in announcing new support for the next leap in Fibre Channel throughput with the Engenio 4900 system it has launched to replace its 3994 midrange disk array. Also new with this system is support for 1 Gbps iSCSI host connectivity and support for Seagate’s full disk encryption (FDE).

The 4900 can hold up to 112 drives and 2 GB or 4 GB cache. Add-on software features include Encryption, Partitioning, Snapshot, Volume Copy, Remote Volume Mirroring. LSI’s midrange products are OEMed by IBM Corp. for its midrange DS3000 and DS4000 SAN product lines. 

Like EMC, LSI isn’t adding native Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) support to its arrays yet. “We’re not quite ready to talk about our plans there yet,” said Steve Gardner, diretor of product marketing for LSI. “FCoE and 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) is a battle that will heat up in the second half of next year.”

This outlook is supported by data collected by market research firm TheInfoPro, whose storage market research director Robert Stevenson told SearchStorage that enterprise users are already beginning the transition to 8 Gbps FC, with FCoE still on the back burner.

August 21, 2009  5:32 PM

08-20-2009 Storage Headlines

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

(0:23) NetApp names Georgens CEO, says Data Ontap 8 is coming

(2:52) Will 2011 be the year of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)?

(4:59) Ex-Brocade CEO Reyes gets a new trial

(6:30) Data backup news briefs: Quantum updates DXi7500

(7:21) STEC Inc. CTO looks at the future of flash and solid-state drives

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