Storage Soup


May 4, 2016  2:25 PM

EMC goes Nitro with all-flash Isilon array

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo
EMC

LAS VEGAS — EMC dropped a surprise at EMC World today by previewing an all-flash version of its Isilon clustered NAS system.

C.J. Desai, president of EMC’s Emerging Technologies Division, said “Project Nitro,” has been in the works for 18 months and is scheduled to go into beta in the second half of 2016 and begin shipping GA next year. Desai said the system will scale to 400 nodes, 100 PB of capacity and 1.5 TB per second of throughput. He described it as a “super super dense” system packed with 15 TB solid state drives.

EMC currently has four all-flash storage systems with the launch of the midrange Unity array this week. Unity joins VMAX All Flash, XtremIO and the DSSD D5 massive shared storage  system in EMC’s portfolio. Isilon will be the last of the vendor’s primary storage systems to go all-flash.

Nitro looms as a competitor to Pure Storage’s FlashBlade array for unstructured data, which was announced in March and is due to ship later this year.

May 3, 2016  5:47 PM

Commvault Systems posts second straight quarter of revenue gains

Sonia Lelii Sonia Lelii Profile: Sonia Lelii
Data protection

Data protection vendor Commvault Systems generated $159.6 million in revenues in the fourth quarter, hitting the second consecutive quarter of sequential growth after three quarters of declining revenues.

The company beat Wall Street analysts’ expectations by $2.47 million, with total revenues up by six percent year-over-year and two percent sequentially.

Brian Carolan, Commvault’s chief financial officer, said total revenues for the full fiscal year were about $595 million, which were a decrease of two percent compared to the 2015 fiscal year. Total revenues for fiscal 2016 were up three percent year-over-year. Software revenues for the fourth quarter 2016 were $73.3 million, up three percent sequentially and five percent year-over-year.

Revenue from enterprise deals, defined by Commvault as deals over $100,000 in software revenue, were 58% of total software revenue and the number of enterprise deals increased 13% sequentially.

“Our average enterprise deal size was approximately $272,000 during the current quarter, which was down 2 percent from approximately $278,000 in the third quarter 2016,” Carolan said.

Commvault’s net income was $16.6 million for the quarter and $42.4 million for the year.

President and CEO Bob Hammer attributed the growth to changes Commvault made during a two-year transition,  which brought about license revenue from new distribution partnerships with Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco, Nutanix and Pure Storage.

The Commvault V11 Data Protection Platform, which was re-branded from Simpana and introduced last fall, is experiencing strong sales. The company added about 450 new customers this last quarter and revenue made via its deal with Arrow distributor was 38% of the company’s total revenue, a nine percent increase year-over-year and flat sequentially.

“The move to the cloud has become a major factor contributing  to our increased business momentum since Commvault solutions can holistically solve a broad range of critical new problems that customers are facing as they migrate to the cloud, manage data in private, hybrid and public clouds and deploy new hyper converged and big data infrastructures,” Hammer said.

The company is winning larger enterprise deals,  Hammer said.

“However, our ability to grow is more dependent on just big deals or the steady flow of $500,000 and $1 million-plus deals,” he said. “These deals have quarterly revenue and earnings risk due to their complexity and timing. Even with improved funnels, large closure rates may remain lumpy. We still face critical challenges. We need to expand the market visibility and understanding of the strategic value of Commvault’s V11 Data Platform and broader set of standalone products.”

CommVault Systems’ history is in data protection but it has been adding cloud data management as part of its core strategy. Hammer said cloud and software as a service (SaaS) vendors to not replace the need for the type of data management CommVault is offering.

“For example, replication data protection technologies from cloud and SaaS vendors do not replace the need for a backup copy for critical data needs such as compliance, legal and historical business analytics,” he said. “They do not provide the data and information capability to federate the management of data across silos of cloud, mobile, SaaS and new IT infrastructures.”

Hammer said Commvault will expand its Data Platform over the next six months or so, adding user self-service for managing cloud data, improvements for managing data created in the cloud, federated indexing, and intelligent search of online clouds and managed copies.


May 2, 2016  2:31 PM

Dell plus EMC equals Dell Technologies

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo
Dell, EMC, Storage

LAS VEGAS – Michael Dell today said his company will be called Dell Technologies after he completes his $67 billion acquisition of EMC. The EMC name will live on for the enterprise business, which will be called Dell EMC.

Dell revealed the name during his keynote address at EMC World 2016. He said Dell, EMC and its pieces, including VMware, Pivotal, Virtustream and RSA, and Dell’s recently spun off SecureWorks will all be part of a strategically aligned family of businesses. “As family names go, I’m kind of attached to Dell,” was his reason for calling the company Dell Technologies.

Dell used the keynote to try and convince attendees that EMC will be bigger and better after the acquisition. He said the deal will close “under the original terms and under the original timeframe.”  The deal is expected to close by October. The two major hurdles are regulatory approval in China and ratification from EMC’s shareholders.

Dell compared his company’s direction to Hewlett-Packard, which last year split the company into two. “Companies like HP are shrinking their way to success. Wait, you can’t shrink your way to success. That’s not a reality,” he said. “They’re separating their edge from their core.”


April 29, 2016  5:55 AM

Cinder still No. 1 OpenStack storage project, but Manila interest picks up

Carol Sliwa Carol Sliwa Profile: Carol Sliwa
Storage

Cinder still has the highest adoption rate among OpenStack storage projects, but interest in the nascent Manila file-share service is picking up, according to a 2016 user survey released this month by the OpenStack Foundation.

The survey showed that 57% of 290 deployers who answered the adoption question use OpenStack Cinder block storage in production, and another 26% are testing it. OpenStack Swift object storage was in production use at 32% of the deployments, with another 21% using it in test mode.

The emerging Manila shared file system had production deployments among only 3% of respondents and test usage at 8%. But Manila is generating lots of interest. Only the Magnum containers service (44%) and Designate DNS service (41%) generated more mentions than Manila (38%) among the 290 respondents who rated the OpenStack projects they’re most interested in.

“We’re starting to see a handful of big deployments move past the ‘kicking the tires’ phase and deploy Manila in production. The number of new users trying Manila is also more than I can count,” said Ben Swartzlander, the OpenStack Manila project team lead and a senior software engineer at NetApp.

The OpenStack Foundation’s volunteer survey generated responses from 1,603 community members representing 1,111 unique organizations and 405 user deployments. The IT industry dominated the survey pool, at 68%, following by telecommunications (14%), academic/research (9%), financial (2%) and film/media (2%). The number of users responding to specific questions varied.

The top priority for most respondents is saving money over alternative infrastructure choices, and the majority of deployments are in on-premise private clouds.

More than 75% of 256 respondents use between five and nine OpenStack projects. Looking at OpenStack storage, 20% of 312 respondents said they use the open source software in production for storage/backup/archiving purposes. Another 5% use it for development/quality assurance, and 3% are involved in proofs of concept.

The top Cinder driver in production use among 260 respondents was Ceph RBD followed by the default logical volume manager (LVM) for Linux (16%), NetApp (8%), NFS (5%), GlusterFS (5%), SolidFire (4%) and VMware VMDK (3%).

And there are some sizable Cinder block storage deployments. About 9% of 148 respondents have more than 1 PB, including . The Cinder breakdown for the rest was:

19% – 100 TB to 999 TB
38% – 10 TB to 99 TB
24% – 9 TB or less

Among the OpenStack Swift respondents, the breakdown was as follows:

4% – 1 PB to 99 PB
20% – 100 TB to 999 TB
25% – 10 TB to 99 TB
51% – 9 TB or less

Asked what kinds of data they plan to store on object storage in the next 12 months, the respondents said:

68% – backup/archiving
60% – Docker/container/VM images
58% – application data
32% – big data
3% – other


April 28, 2016  4:19 PM

FalconStor’s playing beat the clock with FreeStor

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo
FalconStor, Virtualization software

The bad news for FalconsStor is it lost $3.2 million last quarter. If there is good news, it’s that its new FreeStor software is picking up OEM and managed service provider (MSP) customers and selling way ahead of last year. But the really bad news is, the software vendor is down to $11.4 million in cash and needs to turn its fortunes around in a hurry to survive.

On Wednesday, FalconStor reported $7.4 million in revenue last quarter compared to $8.7 million a year ago and $9.4 million the last quarter of 2015. Executives blame the decrease on a sharp drop in sales of legacy products that were on the market before FreeStor.

CEO Gary Quinn said FalconStor sold three times as much FreeStor through MSPs last quarter than it did all of 2015, and enterprise subscription licensing in the quarter was nearly half of the 2015 total. FalconStor lists Volkswagen in Poland, Sunrise Communications in China and Petrofac in the U.K. among its FreeStor enterprise customers although most of the revenue has come from international MSPs such as Hitachi Systems in Japan, Blue Chip in the U.K. and LG CNS in South Korea. FreeStor OEMs include array vendors X-IO and Kaminario, backup appliance vendor Synerway and subsystems vendor Rorke Data, but that business relies on the partners’ success.

“There was a decline in our legacy business. Many storage companies are experiencing that now,” FalconStor CFO Lou Petrucelly said. “That’s not an excuse, but it’s the reality.”

Petrucelly admitted the financials must improve, but said “We feel confident that our new product can work, and that gives us the gas to move forward.”

FalconStor launched FreeStor storage virtualization and data protection software in February, 2015. The platform combines data migration, continuous availability, protection and recovery, and inline data deduplication. FalconStor added predictive analytics to FreeStor this month for capacity planning, service-level management and storage health monitoring.

Quinn said FalconStor’s internal forecast called for about $9 million to $10 million in revenue for the quarter, and it came up about because of around $1.5 million to $2 million of late orders. “We still have that business, it wasn’t lost,” Quinn said. “We would have been close to break even for the quarter. If we can bounce back [this quarter] and show positive cash results, that will go a long way towards saying we just hit a bump in the road or stepped in a hole.”

Quinn said the primary use cases so far for Freestor has been backup as a service and disaster recovery as a service. That gives FalconStor hope that FalconStor can pick up steam if businesses move to the cloud in droves.

Quinn said reaction to the technology has been good, but FalconStor is still battling reputation problems from several years back, especially in the United States.

“Our U.S. presence has been diminished, and a lot of that is due to the history of the company,” he said. “Something went on between FalconStor and the marketplace, and we just have had a difficult task getting traction.”


April 27, 2016  1:34 PM

Scality’s RING now pre-integrated with new Dell cloud storage system

Sonia Lelii Sonia Lelii Profile: Sonia Lelii

Dell and Scality recently added a highly dense, purpose-built cloud storage system that is pre-intergrated with the RING object storage software to their reseller product lineup.

The SD7000-S cloud storage system scales to 688TBs of raw storage in a 4U form factor or 6.9PBs of capacity in a single rank. The jointly engineered SD7000-S has two server nodes, with two Xeon E5-2650 v3 processors per node and a 10GbitE dual port network interface card. There are 90 hot-plug, 8TBs, 3.5-inch disk drives in the 4U enclosure.

The Scality RING can be deployed with three SD7000-S storage servers. The software provides multi-petabyte storage for unstructured data with a single distributed namespace across a single or multiple sites. It has access for file and object storage with optional OpenStack APIs.

The RING software uses a de-centralized distributed architecture, providing concurrent access to data stored on x86-based hardware. Ring’s core features include replication and erasure coding for data protection, auto-tiering and geographic redundancies inside a cluster.

Scality also has a reseller agreement with HP that became official in October 2014, with the Scality software running on HP Proliant Servers.  In August 2015, Scality scored its deal with Dell when it was added to the company’s Blue Thunder program that combines software-defined storage with Dell servers.


April 25, 2016  6:07 AM

Panzura enables ‘in-cloud NAS’ for Microsoft Azure

Carol Sliwa Carol Sliwa Profile: Carol Sliwa
Panzura

Panzura’s Global File System (GFS) is certified to run in Microsoft Azure, giving customers a second “in-cloud NAS” option with a major cloud provider.

The GFS, running on Panzura’s Cloud Controller, has been available in Amazon since November 2013. But Barry Phillips, chief marketing officer at Panzura, said the company didn’t see Microsoft Azure object storage taking off from a storage perspective until last year.

“It went from not having many on Azure storage to having a large number on Azure storage,” he said.

Phillips said, under a typical scenario, customers move all of their unstructured file data into a public or private “cloud bucket.” Panzura caches the hot data on premises in a controller that runs in a physical appliance or a virtual machine. Panzura sells all-flash and hybrid cloud controller for on-premise use. Colder data that customers rarely use is stored in the cloud. Panzura supplies the global file system to interface to object storage such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3, Google, EMC’s Atmos and IBM’s Cleversafe.

By enabling the Panzura Cloud Controller to run in Azure and Amazon, Panzura is giving customers the opportunity to use the same global file system on premises and in the public cloud. Customers also have the option to run their applications in Azure and Amazon and use Panzura as in-cloud NAS, with no on-premise file storage.

The Panzura Cloud Controller is available on the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.

“We fundamentally believe going forward that as companies move to the cloud, being able to put all of their file system in the cloud itself whenever possible is something that they’ll be looking to do,” Phillips said. “Of course, if the distance to their office is too far from any cloud, then they can certainly run one of our on-premise cloud controllers.”

He said remote access of a file system over a long distance would be slow because of bandwidth and latency. But a customer could mix and match, with some branch offices running on-premise controllers while others have no on-site infrastructure and use only the in-cloud NAS, he said.

Phillips said customers also are able to mesh together file systems in Azure and in Amazon using the Panzura software. “It’s not an either/or with us,” he said.

Microsoft Azure operates data centers in 22 regions around the world. Locations include California, Texas, Illinois, Iowa and Virginia in the U.S.

“As more and more companies want to move their infrastructure into the cloud but still have on-premise performance, then having those data centers in the middle of the U.S. is helpful,” Phillips said.

The Panzura Cloud Controller provides capabilities such as global file locking, to enable users to work with applications built for local use over a wide area network (WAN), global snapshots, deduplication and compression, and security for data at rest and in transit between controllers and the cloud.

“Our customers essentially have Panzura controllers and a cloud bucket. That is all,” Phillips said. He said workflow, operational expenses, and maintenance of backup and archive go away, because cloud providers such as Amazon store multiple copies of the data and can withstand two data centers going down.

 


April 21, 2016  4:01 PM

Pure founder: FlashBlade has more potential than FlashArray

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo
Pure Storage

Since introducing its FlashArray all-flash SAN array in 2012, Pure Storage has sold more than $600 million worth of a type of storage array that didn’t exist before Pure was born.

The man who led the design of that system says he expects its second all-flash platform to eventually sell even more.

Pure founder and chief architect John Hayes says the market for Pure’s FlashBlade scale-out NAS and object system that will launch later this year has a larger potential market because unstructured data is growing much faster than the structured data that FlashArray is built for.

“Ultimately, it’s a larger use case,” Hayes said of FlashBlade. “We looked at all infrastructure data, everything from files to archives. That’s a broad target in the data center and today you have all of these different products optimized for different points. Our theory was that we could actually hit all these optimization points. It’s also the area that’s growing fastest. Databases and virtual machines aren’t high data growth, that’s like 10 percent a year growth. All the unstructured data is growing around 40 percent a year. And the variety of applications for unstructured data is increasing. We’ll sell both platforms into a lot of organizations. We’ll sell FlashArray to the IT team and FlashBlade to the engineering team.”

Hayes said FlashBlade, which uses object storage with a file system, is built to accommodate thousands of severs and traditional storage arrays cannot handle that load even if they are filled with solid-state drives.

“We believe in using the network because networks are getting much better,” he said. “It’s also about taking away the limits. Why do people want to use [Amazon] S3, for example? A big part of it is because it’s unlimited. You’re not creating a problem in the future where you want be able to store enough data. That’s why we wanted to make a box that’s really an unlimited data store that’s attached to as many computers as you need to attach to it.”

Not everyone agrees with Pure’s vehicle for expansion. In a blog posted on his company’s web site, Coho Data CTO Andy Warfield said FlashBlade’s architecture has problems. Warfield wrote that Coho Data considered a similar product  in 2013 before scrapping plans. He criticized FlashBlade, mainly because it uses proprietary flash hardware and is not flexible enough to be a true scale-out  system.

Hayes seemed more confused than upset by Warfield’s criticism. “I read it. I don’t really understand his point of view,” Hayes said. “I don’t know what to say. They’re building stuff, we’re building stuff. I don’t have much to say about it.”

Hayes also doesn’t have much to say about whether Pure will expand into other types of products, except that any new offerings may address another market. “I think between the two products we have, we’ll be able to cover almost all storage in the data center,” he said. “If we launch any new products, it’s probably in a different category.”

They won’t be software-only, despite Hayes’ background with software companies before Pure. He said software is the key to success for any all-flash system but a software-only product makes little sense.

“It’s an enormous amount of work to establish hardware compatibility,” he said. “It’s going to take us more engineering to ship a software-only product. I don’t understand what the customer benefit is going to be if they have to integrate the software and hardware themselves. It probably won’t save them any money.”

 


April 20, 2016  6:28 PM

Gridstore to CEO: Great job, now get lost

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Gridstore apparently grew so fast under CEO George Symons that its board decided to change CEOs to keep up with the rapid growth.

Gridstore founder and CTO Kelly Murphy has moved back into the CEO role on an interim basis until the hyper-converged vendor finds a replacement for Symons.

“Gridstore closed out a record year in 2015 in both revenue and customer acquisition and launched 2016 with a new round of investment,” Gridstore VP of corporate communications Douglas Gruehl said in an e-mail statement. “In order to manage the companies’ hyper growth, the board has decided that a new CEO with experience in managing a fast growing company is needed. A search for a new CEO is underway.

“With the new investment Gridstore is expanding rapidly, adding to sales, support, and R&D worldwide; it is truly an exciting time for us.”

When Gridstore closed its $19 million funding round in January, Symons said he was looking forward to growing the business and doubling its headcount, particularly in sales and marketing. But that funding round brought other changes that may have spelled the end for Symons. Gridstore replaced chairman Geoff Barrell with Nariman Teymourian, who ran Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Converged Systems Division of HPE. Kevin Dillon of Atlantic Bridge Capital, which led the funding round, also joined the board.

Gridistore got a head start on its rebuilding its executive team at the same time bringing in Dell veterans James Thomason (chief strategy officer) and Kevin Rains (chief financial officer) and a VP of sales, Phil Lavery, who also came from Atlantic Bridge.

Symons became Gridstore CEO in 2013, after stints as a CEO at Yosemite Technologies and Evostor, CTO at EMC, COO at Xiotech and chief strategy officer at Nexsan. He transformed Gridstore from a company that sold storage appliances for Microsoft Hyper-V to an all-flash hyper-converged vendor, still focused on Microsoft. In January, Symons said Gridstore revenue grew 343% year-over-year in 2015. “It surprised me how quickly it happened,” he said at the time.

So quickly that his board felt he couldn’t keep up.


April 20, 2016  3:41 PM

EMC sales decline, says Dell deal on track

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo
Dell, EMC

EMC’s storage sales declined more than expected last quarter as the vendor waits to become part of Dell.

EMC executives offered several reasons for the drop in sales, but not the most obvious one. That would be, customers are reluctant to buy now until they see what happens if and when the $67 billion Dell deal closes.

EMC CEOs Joe Tucci and David Goulden – who heads the storage business – say the decline was due to product cycle transitions and an overall caution in IT spending that caused a backlog of deals. Those reasons are often cited by storage vendors for poor results, and may be valid in this case. But it’s unrealistic to think that none of the reluctance to buy is related to the pending Dell deal.

Tucci did emphasize that the Dell deal is on track to close “under the original terms and under the original timeframe,” on today’s earnings call. The original timeframe called for it to close between mid-2016 and October. And Tucci said EMC’s plans for 2016 call for revenue growth, indicating he expects the sales declines to be reversed in coming months.

Tucci called the Dell deal “a great strategic option” and said “the combination of EMC and Dell creates a powerhouse in the IT industry. Integration planning has accelerated. [Dell and EMC] have developed detailed integration plans to assure we hit the ground running when the merger closes.”

He said regulatory approval has been granted throughout the world except for China. EMC stockholders still have to approve the deal. And of course, the $57 billion in funding must also be secured but Dell and EMC execs have said that is no problem.

Tucci would not comment on what role he would play in the new company, which will be headed by Michael Dell. He didn’t exactly sound like he is resigned to ride off into the sunset for his long-anticipated retirement, though.

“I’m going to punt a little bit, and then I’m going to tell you the absolute truth,” Tucci said when asked about his role after the Dell deal. “To me, this is all about making sure it’s a good deal for our customers, our shareholders and our people, and they’re all priority number one to me. And it’s not about me. I have a lot of energy left, I’m going to continue to work doing different things. Potentially I could help advise Michael, but I just don’t want to go there yet, and Michael and I have not gone there yet.”

EMC Information Infrastructure (the storage group) reported $3.8 billion in revenue for the first quarter, down six percent year-over-year. Storage product revenue of $1.96 billion dropped 10%, partly because of $75 million worth of unfilled late orders. EMC II CEO Goulden said sales of its XtremIO all-flash storage asold well, and the VMAX All-Flash array is one of the new products he expects to pick up steam.

Goulden said he expects VMAX All-Flash arrays to make up at least half of new VMAX sales by the end of the year. And there will be another all-flash array coming at EMC World in two weeks. That will be a midrange all-flash array that will either be part of the VNX family or replace it.

“VMAX All-Flash is a game-changer,” Goulden said. “We will have a major new mid-tier announcement at EMC World that will be the start of a new cycle where the traditional VNX plays.”


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