Storage Soup

June 18, 2009  2:49 PM

HDS disk array failure suspected in Barclays outage; where’s the HAM?

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

According to reports out of the U.K. yesterday, Barclays ATM machines stopped working Tuesday because of a fault with one of its disk arrays.

The exact nature of the problem has not been specified, but the company is publicly known as a customer of Hitachi Data Systems’ (HDS) USP-V. HDS supplied a SAN subsystem based on its high-end USP-V hardware in February to bring capacity to 1 PB at a new 28,000 square foot Gloucester data center. That is the data center where the outage occurred.

Reached for comment, an HDS spokesperson wrote to Storage Soup in an email:

Not much to respond to as Barclays’ operations are now fully back online as of end of business day yesterday local time. Barclays and Hitachi Data Systems are investigating the cause of the problem. As a trusted storage partner to customers around the globe, it is our commitment to deliver on high standards of customer service and support excellence to Barclays and all of our customers worldwide.

U.K. storage consultant Chris M. Evans, who has worked with HDS products and customers, came to the vendor’s defense. He pointed the finger at the lack of redundancy of Barclays’ architecture.

What surprises me with this story is the time Barclays appeared to take to recover from the original incident.  If a storage array is supporting a number of critical applications including online banking and ATMs, then surely a high degree of resilience has been built in that caters for more than just simple hardware failures?  Surely the data and servers supporting ATMs and the web are replicated (in real time) with automated clustered failover or similar technology?

We shouldn’t be focusing here on the technology that failed.  We should be focusing on the process, design and support of the environment that wasn’t able to manage the hardware failure and “re-route” around the problem.

One other thought.  I wonder if this problem would have been avoided with a bit of Hitachi HAM?

June 16, 2009  4:28 PM

Bocada resurfaces, plans backup reporting updates

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

I’m still digesting all the vendor meetings I had last week at the BD Event. One of the company executives I met with last week was Nancy Hurley, CEO of Bocada Inc. for a little over a year now.

Hurley told me she spent most of her time since becoming CEO last May trying to get the Bocada’s house in order. “We went through our recession already,” she said, adding the vendor rebounded to reach profitability by the end of last year. Hurley said that was mostly the result of improving internal business processes.

Having completed its internal makeover, Hurley said Bocada will update its Bocada Enterprise software June 30 and again later this year. She hopes the two-phase approach to breaking up the monolithic software into a modular front end will help attract more channel sales and improve workflow within the product.

Bocada Enterprise 5.4 will add “policy mining,” which will allow the software to understand each policy for every backup server client, when that policy changed, and how that has impacted backup job failures or error reports. This version will also begin the modularization process by more clearly delineating the workflow between each of the services it provides, from healthcheck to problem management to change management. “Today we leave the customer to navigate the workflow themselves,” Hurley said. “They have to know where they have to go next. Our next update will move them through to the next step.”

The second update planned for later this year will separate the front-end into sections that can be sold and deployed separately, though the back-end will remain the same. The customers Bocada has in mind for this are service providers who may need to offer a combination of services to customers and issue service level agreements (SLAs) for each service. Advanced modules are also planned for generating SLAs and thresholding, i.e., “If this keeps happening, 30 days from now you might not meet your SLA,” explained Hurley.

Other products that began as backup reporting tools, such as Aptare’s StorageConsole, have broadened their capabilities to include storage resource management (SRM). But Hurley said Bocada plans to stick to its knitting in the data protection space. “To me, even addressing everything in data protection is hard — we don’t want to dilute that value by also having to go and look at how much capacity you have on Clariion,” she said.

Bocada may have picked a good time to re-enter the reporting software market; TheInfoPro’s Wave 12 Storage Study showed that capacity planning and reporting shot to #1 on the list of priorities for storage professionals during the economic downturn.

June 15, 2009  2:20 PM

Data Domain tells EMC to take a hike (or make a better offer) *UPDATED*

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Not surprisingly, Data Domain management today recommended its shareholders reject EMC’s offer to buy the deduplication vendor “at this time” in favor of an offer from NetApp.

The reason it’s not surprising is that EMC’s June 1 cash bid of $30 per Data Domain share was unsolicited, and came more than a week after Data Domain’s board already accepted NetApp’s offer to acquire the company. NetApp has since increased its offer from $25 per share to $30 per share in a combination of stock and cash, which Data Domain’s board again accepted. NetApp’s offer is placed at $1.9 billion compared to EMC’s $1.8 billion, but EMC maintains its offer is better because it is all cash.

Data Domain shareholders can still vote to accept the deal without the approval of Data Domain’s board. However, there have already been rumblings that EMC will raise its offer, perhaps to $34 or $35 per share. Data Domain’s stock price opened today at $33.50, indicating its investors expect a higher offer.

“Our Board is committed to enhancing stockholder value and, after careful review with our outside advisors, determined that the $30 per share EMC Offer is not in the best interests of our stockholders at this time,” Data Domain CEO Frank Slootman said in a press release today. “We are pleased with the revised terms of NetApp’s acquisition offer and feel it will provide great value to our shareholders and customers.”

EMC CEO Joe Tucci also issued a statement today, repeating his claim that EMC’s offer is superior to NetApp’s. “EMC’s all-cash offer meets all of Data Domain’s stated objectives,” Tucci said. “We do not believe that Data Domain stockholders will approve the proposed transaction with NetApp. EMC remains committed to successfully completing this transaction. ”

The release said Data Domain’s board recommended saying no to EMC for several reasons. They include:

• accepting the deal would allow NetApp to terminate its agreement;

• Data Domain has not been able to negotiate terms of EMC’s offer because EMC hasn’t agreed to enter into a confidentiality agreement required by the Data Domain-NetApp deal;

• possible issues with the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust act involved with an EMC-Data Domain deal; and

• Data Domain would have to pay NetApp a $57 million fee if it terminates its agreement.

SEC filings previously released noted that NetApp offered Data Domain chairman Aneel Bhusri a place on its board and Slootman a management position. EMC has made no such offers, but has indicated it wants to keep Data Domain management in place.

EMC may have no choice but to increase its offer. By making its $1.8 billion bid public and going on the record with its praise of Data Domain’s deduplication devices, it could find it difficult to sell its own competing products based on deduplication software from Quantum.

June 15, 2009  1:43 PM

IDC: HDS market share numbers not accurate

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Last week, after meeting with Hitachi Data Systems at the BD Event in Boston, I posted about some of the things we discussed about HDS’s 2008 performance, which included some market share information they supplied, citing IDC as the source.

The problem is, IDC says HDS’s numbers don’t match its own.

This was the relevant graf in the original blog:

Schmidt said it was specifically EMC that HDS had taken market share from in 2008, citing an IDC study that showed HDS edging to just under 30% market share in high-end disk arrays in 2008 while EMC fell to just over 25%. Schmidt attributed the growth in sales in part to a sales reorganization in February 2008, when former Unisys vice president and general manager of sales and service Randy DeMont was promoted to executive vice president. (Schmidt left EMC, where he worked in the Centera product division, in September for HDS.)

IDC does not publish the data that would have supported this conclusion. It doesn’t break out market share according to “high end disk arrays” but rather by price bands. IDC research manager Natalya Yezhkova said that the Hitachi number given to me seems to be a combination of price bands 7 through 9 in IDC’s model, essentially systems over $300,000. HDS also included sales from OEM partners Hewlett-Packard and Sun as part of its own in the analysis, which is also not consistent with IDC’s methodology, she said.

In fact, calculating using IDC’s standard model, the market share numbers in price bands 7 through 9 look like this:

EMC 36.6%

HDS 17.7%

After the fact, here’s the statement HDS’s EJ Schmidt sent to me about it:

The share number provided is a combination of IDC proprietary data and an inclusion of Hitachi, Ltd./HDS high-end storage revenue contributions from its OEM partnership with HP and reseller relationship with Sun. IDC opts to track high-end storage marketshare by brand rather than by manufacturer, which leads to data that is non-representative of Hitachi’s public storage results. Hitachi’s public financial results include HDS’ sales to Sun and HP to reflect more accurate end-user pricing and end-user marketshare, and by virtue, a more accurate representation of share. This disclosure practice is similar to our peers in the storage market that benefit from indirect channels to market, as you are aware.

IDC doesn’t see it that way. According to Benjamin Woo, VP of storage systems research in an email to Storage Soup, “While we recognize that the title of the blog entry does read “HDS says …”, the sentence infers that this is factual and based on IDC research. In fact, IDC does not support this quote. More importantly, IDC does not have the data to verify the HDS claim.”

Moreover, IDC says HDS requested authorization to use these calculations in press briefings, and was denied. But this data was still presented to me without clarification during our meeting last week.

June 12, 2009  2:44 PM

06-11-2009 Storage Headlines

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

(0:23) Electronic medical records present challenge to healthcare industry

(1:12) Dell’s data deduplication strategy: partner for target and host dedupe products
EMC’s Tucci to Data Domainers: You’ll like it here

(2:56) Fujitsu adds DX60 and DX80 midrange disk arrays to Eternus line

(5:14) Isilon targets enterprise NAS with Backup Accelerator, N+2:1 parity

(7:51) New data archiving products focus on software-only delivery, cloud integration
VCs and IT execs discuss IT’s brave new world in Boston

June 10, 2009  11:26 AM

HDS says it beat up EMC in 2008

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

As a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) earnings and revenue numbers often get lost in its parent company’s extensive reports. But HDS execs strutted their financial stuff for press at the BD Event in Boston Tuesday, saying fiscal 2008 financial results show HDS taking market share from EMC, especially in the high-end disk array market.

Eric-Jan Schmidt, vice president of corporate marketing, said HDS grew revenue 1% to $672.8 million year over year last quarter while other large storage vendors declined. Storage software grew “in the high double-digits” year over year, high-end storage systems in the single digits, and modular storage was flat year over year, according to Schmidt, who did not give specific numbers for those products.
Total HDS revenue for fiscal 2008 — which ended last quarter — increased 11% to $2.864 billion.

Schmidt said it was specifically EMC that HDS had taken market share from in 2008, citing an IDC study that showed HDS edging to just under 30% market share in high-end disk arrays in 2008 while EMC fell to just over 25%. Schmidt attributed the growth in sales in part to a sales reorganization in February 2008, when former Unisys vice president and general manager of sales and service Randy DeMont was promoted to executive vice president. (Schmidt left EMC, where he worked in the Centera product division, in September for HDS.)

Schmidt added that HDS has seen increased success with its USP-V virtualization controller and storage software in this economy because they can be used to repurpose existing third-party storage. He said 15% of the 12,600 USP and USP-Vs in production so far have third-party storage virtualized behind them.

However, while HDS had a few things to crow about, Hitachi Ltd. did not fare so well, posting a record $8.1 billion loss for the year. That’s not a Hitachi-specific record – that’s the biggest-ever annual loss by a Japanese manufacturer, according to a report by the Associated Press. According to another report released Tuesday morning on the Dow Jones news wires, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services cut Hitachi Ltd.’s (HIT) ratings to below-average credit quality.

In the meantime, HDS may have something up its sleeve for the Hitachi Content Archiving Platform (HCAP) product based on its acquisition of Archivas in 2007. “Our archive platform will morph into something different over the next year,” said Asim Zaheer, HDS vice president, product and competitive marketing.

HCAP is already touted by HDS as a unified repository for multiple federated sources of content. HCAP uses a hierarchical file system, making it different from object-based or content-addressable storage (CAS) products, like Caringo Inc.’s CAStor or EMC’s Atmos or Centera. However, given the “federation” aspect of HCAP (also a hot buzzword at this year’s EMC World in discussions of cloud storage), my guess would be a scale-out system for active unstructured content in addition to where HCAP is already positioned, in secondary storage archiving. Zaheer would neither confirm or deny my suspicions.

June 9, 2009  3:23 PM

EMC’s Tucci to Data Domainers: You’ll like it here

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

EMC CEO Joe Tucci reached out again to Data Domain today – not to increase his company’s offer but in an open letter telling Data Domain employees they are better off with EMC than rival NetApp.

EMC sought to outbid NetApp for dedupe specialist Data Domain last week with a $1.8 billion offer. That trumped NetApp’s original $1.5 billion bid, but NetApp increased its offer to $1.9 billion last Wednesday. Although both offers are for $30 per Data Domain share, Tucci maintains EMC’s is better because it is all cash while NetApp’s is part cash, part stock. Still, Data Domain’s board recommended that shareholders accept the NetApp bid and said it will comment on EMC’s offer by June 16.

Storage insiders expect EMC to raise its offer if necessary. For now, Tucci wants Data Domain employees to feel they will be welcome if they join EMC.

“There’s more to the success of a merger than money can ever account for,” Tucci wrote in his letter to Data Domain employees.

Tucci pointed to EMC’s track record with acquisitions and its larger sales force and R&D budget than NetApp has as factors that “provide assurance that EMC can grow and develop Data Domain more rapidly and effectively than NetApp can.”

Tucci has made these points before since EMC’s bid, and likely would have made them to Data Domain CEO Frank Slootman if Slootman didn’t cancel a scheduled May 27 meeting with EMC after accepting NetApp’s $1.5 billion offer.

In his letter to Data Domain employees, Tucci said many employees of past acquisitions have risen to “leadership positions” in EMC. He also made it clear how much he respects Data Domain.

“You have built a terrific company,” he wrote. “You have a well-earned reputation for attracting skilled storage professionals who excel at innovation. And we admire how uncompromising you are in caring for and serving your customers. In many ways, you remind of us EMC.”

The entire letter is posted on EMC’s web site.

It’s not clear exactly what Tucci hopes to accomplish with the letter. Data Domain employees won’t decide who buys the company, its shareholders will.

In an email to reporters accompanying a copy of the letter, an EMC spokesman wrote: “Joe chose the open letter format as the best way to express directly to Data Domain employees his thoughts about why EMC is the best choice for them.”

The email also included a reminder that “before signing the definitive agreement with NetApp, Data Domain’s management excluded EMC from consideration as a potential acquirer despite EMC’s attempt at an open dialog. Many outside followers have wondered why the Data Domain Board would not have wanted to create a level playing field for other companies that may have been interested in acquiring Data Domain.”

It’s surprising that Tucci didn’t put that in his letter. Maybe Data Domain employees can read it between the lines.

June 9, 2009  2:18 AM

VCs and IT execs discuss IT’s brave new world in Boston

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Panel moderator Andrew Williamson of Alexander Dunham Capital Group Inc.
leads a discussion about IT industry consolidation and innovation at The BD Event
on Monday afternoon.

Venture capitalists and business development types of all stripes met in downtown Boston today for the first BD Event, a new networking conference for vendors in the storage, security and virtualization markets. According to a panel discussion this afternoon, the IT market can expect further consolidation along the lines of Sun/Oracle and NetApp/ or EMC/Data Domain, but VCs said that will make room for new, more innovative companies, especially in cloud storage.

The panel included two executives from storage vendors with M&A experience: John O’Brien, senior director of corporate development at EMC; and Peter Levine, senior vice president and general manager at Citrix, and reps from three venture capitalist firms: Mark Rostick, director of Intel Capital,; Ash Ashutosh, partner with Greylock Partners (Ashutosh also sold AppIQ to HP a few years ago); and Charles Curran, general partner at Valhalla Partners, a VC firm that backed Nirvanix, LeftHand Networks, and Sepaton.

According to Levine, the IT industry can expect more heavy consolidation throughout this year, “but that consolidation is more financially driven than customer-driven,” he said. “I don’t think IT buyers really want one virtual integrated stack – the last thing customers want is IT lock-in.”

Nonetheless, he added, “Consolidation absolutely will happen. The big survivors, to grow, have to start getting into areas they weren’t in before, and without question that verticalizes the market.”

(As for who the likely candidates are for further consolidation – no one I talked to at the event had heard anything about actual talks, but there was a lot of chatter at the conference about IBM/Brocade and Cisco/NetApp acquisitions).

Levine and O’Brien said smaller acquisitions at their own companies are being scrutinized more and more carefully these days. Smaller companies take longer to add to an acquiring company’s bottom line and tend to raise operational costs during integration, Levine said. Instead, Citrix will probably focus more on new partnerships with promising small companies. EMC’s O’Brien said that EMC has done just two small asset deals so far this year (aside from its $1.8 billion bid for Data Domain).

Panel moderator Andrew Williamson of Alexander Dunham Capital Group Inc. said the percentage of asset sales among new acquisitions has risen in the last six months to 30%. That type of deal represented 16 to 20% of M&A activity in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of VC firms funding startups has declined since 2007 as has their average investment in new companies, along with the revenue multiples they can expect as a return when their portfolio companies are sold or go public.

In other words, get ready for a world in which the number of major vendors will shrink, but there will be less funding for the types of companies that popped up between 2000 and 2003 with a burst of innovation that led to a flurry of IPOs and acquisitions over the last few years.

However, the old rule still applies – “Big companies can’t innovate at the level of startups,” said Valhalla’s Curran. The VCs assured the audience that new storage and security products would still be coming down the pike.

Cloud storage and software will be king

The VCs on the panel agreed about where the money’s going in storage these days. They all indicated they were doing few if any deals involving hardware systems. “It’s less capital-intensive,” said Curran, adding that the shift towards IP networking in the enterprise data center and virtualization would be the biggest trends going forward. Ashutosh also said he was most interested in software companies. “The trend is shifting away from boxes and to the disruptive nature of virtualization and the cloud,” he said. Intel’s Rostick said his company would invest in at least one more security and one more storage company this year, and would also be focused on the cloud, virtualization and what he called “I/O complexity.”

EMC’s O’Brien said he’d been “well coached to stick to [EMC CEO] Joe [Tucci]’s script” when it comes to Data Domain, and he wouldn’t get specific about what other areas EMC may be eyeing for acquisitions this year. He did say EMC also would focus on virtualization and the cloud going forward.

Some of the cloud technologies that come out in the next year or so may look familiar to IT users, but optimizing technologies for cloud deployment will become its own area of expertise, according to Ashutosh. “There’s an emerging trend of innovation around delivery and business model – not just new ideas in technology, but also business,” he said.

June 8, 2009  1:03 PM

Voltaire unveils new 10 GbE switch

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

There’s a new Ethernet switch vendor on the market as lines are being drawn in the sand about the future of data center networks.

Voltaire, previously focused mainly on InfiniBand switches, today unveiled its entree into the data center Ethernet market, the Voltaire Vantage 8500. The Layer 2 Ethernet switch is based on some of Voltaire’s existing InfiniBand IP, including its 11.5 Tbps chassis. It can support up to 288 non-blocking Ethernet ports, and up to 12 chassis can be combined in a cluster using Voltaire’s Scale Out Fabric (VSOF) software. The product will become available in the second half of 2009.

As the ripple effect of server virtualization moves through the data center infrastructure, networking vendors are establishing their philosophies about what the next-generation network should look like. Cisco has come out this year with its Unified Computing System (UCS) blade server product, has aggressively advanced the concept of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), and is looking to offer customers vertically-integrated, turnkey infrastructures all from its own product portfolio. Brocade, on the other hand, is cozying up to partners Cisco alienated with UCS — mainly IBM and Hewlett-Packard — while developing FC and Ethernet separately alongside FCoE.

Voltaire shares some of Brocade’s philosophy, particularly when it comes to partnerships rather than trying to own the whole infrastructure stack. Voltaire is even less bullish on FCoE than Brocade, which has already released FCoE switches and has pledged it will release FCoE converged network adapters (CNAs). “FCoE is part of our story, but adoption will take longer than people anticipate,” Voltaire vice president of marketing Asaf Somekh says.

The Vantage 8500 is “FCoE ready,” but Voltaire is focused on the data center Ethernet (DCE, also often called Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE)) for now.

Voltaire isn’t the only InfiniBand vendor to play the consolidation game. Voltaire’s InfiniBand rival Mellanox has switches and gateways that support InfiniBand, Ethernet and Fibre Channel on the same device. QLogic is one of the early leaders in FCoE, and also sells InfiniBand switches as well as FC Host Bus Adapters (HBAs).

“It’s interesting to see what InfiniBand vendors are bringing to Ethernet,” said Taneja Group analyst Jeff Boles. “You see some innovation in the communictions stack and they deliver more performance than you get from traditional Ethernet products up front.”

InfiniBand has also been a unified network for a while, so InfiniBand vendors “are used to taking a different look at the fabric than SAN vendors – similar to Finisar’s NetWisdom [SAN monitoring device],” Boles says. “You look at that and say, why couldn’t I get this from Cisco for MDS three or four years ago, when I needed it?”

June 8, 2009  12:39 PM

Proofpoint buffs up email archiving SaaS

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Email archiving SaaS vendor Proofpoint is adding compliance features to its services today in an effort to reach more enterprise users. The company that bought email archiving SaaS provider Fortiva last year is building new enterprise search and e-Discovery features into its service based on a newly-patented method for searching encrypted data.

Proofpoint email archiving appliances reside at the customer’s location, serving as a “gateway” into the cloud. The Microsoft Exchange email server journals emails to a special mailbox, which the gateway then draws from to send data to the cloud. The service integrates with the customer’s on-premise Active Directory to provide authentication and role-based access to the archive, and provides Web-based search of the archive for administrators as well as end users.

What makes Proofpoint’s approach unique, according to vice president of archiving product management Rick Dales, is that it provides search and other services without any visibility into customers’ data. When the data is ingested through the appliance, an encrypted index token is sent to Proofpoint’s data centers alongside the data. When users want to perform a search, the Proofpoint middleware makes a correlation between the index token and encrypted data, allowing it to return search results without ever decrypting the information. This is the process that was awarded a patent this week; new with this release is the ability for end users to perform these searches on their portion of the archive, rather than just IT admins.

Some of today’s updates to the service also build on these capabilities, like new support for the archiving and search of historical email, meaning email which belongs to users who have left the organization. In prior releases, if users were no longer visible in Active Directory, they would no longer be accessible through Proofpoint. With this release, Active Directory names and encrypted mailbox IDs are sent from the user’s appliance along with the encrypted index tokens. Proofpoint has no visibility into a correlation between the Active Directory names and the globally unique identifier (GUID), but can do a lookup on the plain-text name if requested by the user, including generating an address book showing all email addresses registered to that name.

“Often, lawsuits relate to people who are no longer with the organization,” said Dales.

Users can queue mail for supervisory review in environments where compliance dictates that, and the new version allows them to ‘whitelist’ emails that shouldn’t be sent to the queue, like newsletters. Similarly, updates to the Proofpoint policy engine mean users can apply policies to ‘all mail with exceptions’. Users will also now have the option of retaining data indefinitely, rather than having to decide on a retention period up front. The software also now supports archiving instant messages in addition to email. Finally, a new active legal hold feature flags new mail for archive that may be relevant to existing cases.

The announcement may be among signs that email archiving SaaS offerings, which one analyst described as “not ready for prime time” in the enterprise last year, are beginning to catch up with on-premise products, according to ESG’s Babineau. “They might not be able to catch up fully, because there are some inherent limitations to the cloud environment,” he said. “But the operational benefits that they deliver, i.e., they don’t require any IT ops management and you don’t have to buy any storage, make them a viable alternative to on-premise solutions, especially in this economy.”

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