Storage Soup

A SearchStorage.com blog.


October 5, 2009  2:34 PM

Will Hewlett-Packard and Brocade tie the knot?



Posted by: Dave Raffo
storage networking; storage vendors

There have been rumors for years that Hewlett-Packard might buy Brocade, and they intensified today after a Wall Street Journal report that Brocade has put itself up for sale.

The WSJ cited unidentified sources and obviously none of the companies named would comment, but the article mentioned HP and Oracle as potential bidders. Wall Street and storage industry analysts who follow Brocade say HP is the likely buyer if Brocade gets acquired. HP has a long-term relationship with Brocade, and Oracle is currently trying to complete its Sun deal and integrate that company.

“It is possible that HP is looking to buy Brocade,” Wedbush Securities analyst Kaushik Roy said today. Roy said he “would guess” Brocade would go for about $11 per share or between $4 billion and $5 billion.

However, there is likely a good reason why HP hasn’t already acquired Brocade. If it did, Brocade would probably lose a good piece of its business because its large OEM customers EMC and IBM wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about selling switches owned by their competitor HP.

“If HP buys Brocade, they would in reality pay a much higher premium because the future revenue forecasts would be revised downwards,” Roy said. “Brocade is an OEM business. EMC is likely to move from Brocade more to Cisco [for Fibre Channel switches] and IBM is likely to move towards Juniper on Ethernet.”

In a note to clients today, Stifel Nicolaus Equity Research analyst Aaron Rakers wrote that HP makes most sense as a Brocade suitor but threw a few others into the mix.

“We find it a bit interesting that the [WSJ] article is not including names such as
IBM and Juniper,” Rakers wrote.

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Bob Laliberte said when he heard about the WSJ story, “My first thought was that HP would be a potential suitor. When you look at a company the size of Brocade and what they offer, you’re down to IBM, HP, Oracle, maybe Dell. I don’t think you’ll see EMC or Cisco buy them.”

A Cisco-Brocade deal probably wouldn’t clear anti-trust regulation, and EMC is too close to Cisco to buy Cisco’s chief switch competitor.

A Brocade acquisition by anybody is still a big if at this point. The WSJ story said no deal is imminent, and it sounds like Brocade could just be shopping to see how much interest is there.

One thing for sure is that Brocade’s stock price is soaring. It opened at $8.60 today, more than 12% above its Friday closing price of $7.65.

October 2, 2009  2:56 PM

10-02-2009 Storage Headlines



Posted by: Dave Raffo
storage vendors

Stories referenced:

(0:29) Xiotech names Alan Atkinson CEO

(1:12) HP expands Microsoft-based SMB network-attached storage offerings with Data Vault series

(2:57) HP drops roadmap nuggets at StorageWorks TechDay

(4:42) LSI adds solid-state drive, iSCSI support to denser Engenio 7900 disk array

(6:34) Dataram enters solid-state storage market with XcelaSAN

(8:51) Compellent says smaller businesses can dodge forklift upgrades with QuickStart Fibre Channel SAN


October 1, 2009  3:51 PM

Zmanda spruces up Windows cloud backup



Posted by: Beth Pariseau
Cloud storage, data backup

Open-source data backup software company Zmanda Inc. is releasing version 2.0 of its Zmanda Cloud Backup (ZCB) for Windows today.

New features include:

  • Geography control - customers can tag data so that it’s backed up to a cloud data center in a certain region. For ecample, users in Europe can specify data that has to stay in Europe per European Union regulations. Customers can also choose to send data to data centers closest to their location for better performance of data migrations and retrieval over the network.
  • Selective restore - the ability to restore one file from a data set; not new for Zmanda’s main backup product, but new for ZCB.
  • Windows Security Certificate Encryption - Previously data sent to the cloud through ZCB was encrypted using standard AES encryption; support for the Windows certificate “is the highest level of encryption for Windows systems,” said Zmanda CEO Chander Kant. “It means they can use the same certificate they’re used to if they encrypt files on their Windows server and can make bare-metal restores for DR easier.”

Zmanda Cloud Backup 1.0 was first released last December. Kant said there are currently about 100 customers using it to backup systems to the cloud.


September 29, 2009  6:29 PM

Cisco: We’re not abandoning Fibre Channel for FCoE



Posted by: Dave Raffo
FC switches; fcoe; multiprotocol storage

Despite its aggressive push of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), Cisco executives say Fibre Channel will remain its main storage protocol for another five to 10 years and the vendor remains committed to extending its MDS FC switching platform.

Cisco reps claimed it is a myth that the vendor is abandoning FC for FCoE today during a webcast on storage networking innovation.

“Cisco is not going out and saying ‘Get rid of the Fibre Channel infrastructure,’” said Ed Chapman, VP of product management for Cisco’s server access and virtualization group.

Added VP of Cisco’s data center switching technology group Rajiv Ramaswami: “Fibre Channel is here, it’s healthy, it’s going to be here for a long time.” When asked how long before FCoE becomes the primary storage protocol, he said at least five to 10 years.

Ramaswami says Cisco plans call for an 8Gbps Fibre Channel module for the Nexus 5000 switch this year and a 16Gbps FC card for its MDS 9000 director switches by early 2011. He said Cisco will also add new intelligent storage services for the MDS platform, as well as an FCoE module.

He said FC will play a major part alongside FCoE in Cisco’s unified platform. “Unified computing is not just another name for FCoE,” he said. “FCoE is a building block in a unified fabric. FCoE is about consolidation of I/O on the server. A unified platform is about building an end to end network along with unified storage.”

Cisco added to its FCoE platform today with the Nexus 4000, the first blade switch for its Nexus unified fabric platform. Cisco expects OEM deals with blade server vendors to ship the Nexus 4000 inside their blades.

Cisco, which has deeper roots in Ethernet than FC, has pushed FCoE more than its chief switching rival Brocade, which began as a FC vendor and added Ethernet when it acquired Foundry Networks last year. Brocade beat Cisco to the punch with 4Gbps FC and 8 Gbps and gained FC market share during the refresh cycles. So it will be interesting to see if Cisco makes good on its FC roadmap pledges, especially for 16-gig.


September 29, 2009  3:57 PM

HP drops roadmap nuggets at StorageWorks TechDay **Updated**



Posted by: Beth Pariseau
storage vendors

The storage blog-and Tweet-o-sphere was abuzz with details provided by HP execs at a private forum in Colorado Springs Monday about the direction of their midrange storage roadmap. Among the tidbits flying about online:

  • HP has added solid-state drive (SSD) support with its most recent EVA refresh, but is working on automated sub-LUN tiered storage migration, according to attendees. IBM is also reportedly working on something similar, EMC is planning LUN-level automated tiered storage migration later this year, Atrato has announced something similar, and Compellent has always had sub-LUN automated tiered storage migration, which currently also supports SSDs. This seems to be becoming table stakes in the Flash-as-disk market for SSDs. 
  • HP is reportedly moving to an x86 / x64 Intel processor architecture for all of its storage arrays below the USP-V. Methinks Jasper Forest may have something to do with that.
  • Finally, look for LeftHand Networks’ virtual storage appliance (VSA) to be ported to other hypervisors, including Xen and Hyper-V.
  • Update: Tweets out of Day 2 of the TechDay meeting indicate HP officials are talking about offering Ibrix as a clustered NAS gateway in front of block storage, and eventually converging with LeftHand, though what exactly that convergence would look like isn’t clear.

HP is also still executing on roadmap predictions it made last year, adding small-form factor SAS drives across its storage arrays, beginning with the MSA line. The EVA is slated for a refresh with 2.5-inch SAS drives by the end of this year.

HP also expanded its Windows-based NAS products for SMBs today, with the introduction of the small office/home office (SOHO) X500 Data Vault series and new high-availability (HA) options for its X3000 Windows Storage Server 2008 product line.


September 28, 2009  6:41 PM

Symantec sounds alarm on SMB disaster recovery



Posted by: Beth Pariseau
small business storage

Symantec Corp. says the results of a recent worldwide survey of 1,653 small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and those who do business with them show a gap between how these companies perceive their disaster recovery plans and how prepared for disaster they actually are.

The survey began by asking SMBs (which represented 70 percent of the respondents, with “small” companies defined as 10 to 99 employees and midsize as 100 to 499 employees) how confident they were in their ability to respond to a disaster. According to the survey results, around 82% are somewhat or very satisfied with their DR plan, 84% believe they are “very” or “somewhat” protected, and one in three responded that they believe customers would evaluate other vendors should they experience an outage.

But when the survey questions drilled down into the details of SMB DR plans, Symantec representatives noticed discrepancies in the responses. While the vast majority began by expressing confidence in their ability to survive a disaster, 47% also said they have no formal DR plan An estimated 60% of company data is backed up in this market, with only one in five respondents backing up daily, and more than half expect they would lose more than 40% of their data in a disaster. More puzzling, while only a third of respondents said they expected their own customers to evaluate competitors in the event of a disaster or outage, 42% said they personally had switched vendors due to “unreliable computing systems” and 63% said it damaged their perception of an SMB vendor.

Pat Hanavan, Symantec’s VP for Backup Exec product management, admitted the answers to the questions about confidence may have been different if asked at the end of the survey rather than at the beginning. “My guess is the survey itself may have been an educational process for some,” he said.

It’s also important to remember how long it has taken enterprises to focus on formalized disaster recovery planning and technology with the benefit of internal expertise dedicated to data protection in most cases. Many SMBs rely on a partner or non-technical employees to keep IT operations running and also operate without the budget of the big guys.

The good news for SMBs starting to consider disaster recovery is that more and more vendors are focused on storage and data protection in their market these days, including a plethora of cloud services designed to host data and/ or standby infrastructure for companies which can’t afford a full secondary data center.

If you’re an SMB working your way through disaster recovery planning, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments.


September 25, 2009  7:35 AM

09-24-2009 Storage Headlines



Posted by: Beth Pariseau
Podcasts

Stories referenced:

(0:23) Brocade expands battlefield with Cisco to encompass Data Center Ethernet and FCoE

(2:10) Data Domain adds cascaded replication

(3:43) MaxiScale out of stealth with Flex clustered file system for Web companies

(5:37) Dell drops $3.9 billion on new services business

(6:35) Storage Decisions: Storage managers must explain retention, email archiving and compliance
Storage Decisions: Pros and cons of cloud storage technology


September 22, 2009  3:24 PM

Data Domain adds cascaded replication



Posted by: Dave Raffo
remote data protection

Data Domain’s first product upgrade since it became part of EMC is a step in the same direction the deduplication specialist was heading before the acquisition.

Data Domain today upgraded its operating system with an emphasis on improving its replication capabilities. Data Domain Replicator now supports cascading (multithreaded) replication that lets customers automatically replicate across more than two sites with bi-directional replication. It also expanded its fan-in to a maximum of 180-1 for remote sites.

Replication has been an area of concentration for Data Domain and other deduplication vendors this year. In May, Data Domain bumped its fan-in to a maximum of 90-1 and added full-system replication mirroring. IBM Diligent, Sepaton, and Quantum have all beefed up or added replication to deduplication products this year.

The number of sites supported by Replicator depends on the Data Domain system being run. Data Domain’s largest system, the DD880, now supports 180 to 1 fan-in with the DD690 getting up to 90-1 and midrange DD565 boxes support 45-1.

“We actually have customers asking for fan-in to more sites,” said Brian Biles, Data Domain VP of product marketing.

Biles says the number of sites that can replicate to the data center is determined by the amount of resources allocated for each operation. The idea is to keep them balanced for operations such as reads, writes and replication. “As systems get bigger and faster, we can apply more of those resources to replication,” he says. “The DD880 can support more streams coming in [than other Data Domain devices].”

Cascaded replication copies multiple threads at the same time. This doubles the amount of throughput getting replicated in most cases, Biles said.

Biles, a Data Domain founder, says EMC execs have given Data Domain the go-ahead to continue to execute the roadmap it drew up before EMC’s $2.1 billion acquisition.

“All discussions so far have been encouraging us to stay on the same course we were on, and to do more of it,” Biles said. “I think you’ll see a lot of the same things next year as you saw this year – an emphasis on scaling, and tightening our link with backup and archiving software.”

He said that includes work with Symantec’s NetBackup OpenStorage (OST) interface, even though Symantec and EMC are rivals in the backup game. “Absolutely,” Biles said when asked if there would be tighter integration with OST. “Expect to see more and more over time.”


September 21, 2009  7:41 PM

Dell drops $3.9 billion on new services business



Posted by: Beth Pariseau
storage vendors

I realize I’m dating myself here, but I get a kick out of seeing H. Ross Perot Jr. surfacing in the news this morning with the announcement that Dell Inc. has bought his IT services company Perot Systems. Perot is the son of onetime US Presidential candidate H. Ross Perot Sr., who was a prominent and colorful character in the first American national elections I was old enough to be aware of at the time, in 1992 and 1996.

This acquisition isn’t directly related to storage — industry observers like Steve Duplessie describe it as analogous to Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. buying EDS. However, storage is included in the infrastructure services Perot Systems offers. Also relevant to the storage world is the work the two companies have already been doing in the electronic medical records space, an area where storage managers in healthcare IT are struggling right now.

One Wall Street analyst who follows the storage market predicted the deal could have a short-term impact on shares of CommVault Systems Inc., writing in a note to clients this morning,

We believe shares of CommVault, which have been up approximately 109% since the early March lows and approximately 30% over the past three months…have been partially driven by investor sentiment on the thesis that the company would be on a short-list of potential acquisition candidates for Dell.

“While I agree that Dell may be less likely to acquire in general due to this major outlay, I see Perot and Commvault as filling very different needs within the Dell portfolio,” wrote Forrester Research analyst Andrew Reichman in an email to Storage Soup. “If they needed it before Perot, they still need it after, so I disagree that this takes Commvault off the table.”

Added Gartner analyst David Russell, “I think that a counter argument could be made that the Dell/Perot deal could lead to expanded CommVault sales if a backup and archiving practice is established.”

The Taneja Group’s Jeff Boles said this deal raises questions for him about the impact on EqualLogic services. “What does Dell/Perot do for EqualLogic? What do they do with EqualLogic within an increasingly virtual infrastructure? EqualLogic has great scale, and great economics – there might be a tremendous solution set here that gets really energized in the larger scale business through this professional services coupling.”

Dell has announced SaaS services for storage, and Perot’s SaaS expertise was also emphasized in this morning’s announcement. But, as is to be expected this soon after an acquisition agreement, Dell’s not yet revealing its plans.

“We view this acquisition as completely complementary to Dell’s current services business,” said a spokesperson reached today for comment by Storage Soup. “We have begun integration planning and will have more information on it upon closing.”


September 21, 2009  7:32 PM

Backup expert takes issue with Mozy notifications



Posted by: Beth Pariseau
Online Backup

Backup expert and Tech Target executive editor W. Curtis Preston Friday wrote on his Backup Central blog about a discovery he made regarding MozyHome online backup service – something he wasn’t pleased with. When he switched laptops and didn’t re-install the Mozy client, Preston wrote, Mozy kept charging him for 11 months without backing up data or connecting to his workstation.

Preston didn’t lose any data and acknowledges it was his fault that he didn’t re-install the Mozy client when he got a new laptop. “I’m not saying that the fact that I didn’t use their service for 309 days was even their fault,” he writes,

What I’m saying is that for almost a year they took my money to perform a service, they knew I wasn’t using that service, and they never said squat. This is a typical business model for an ISP…but this isn’t an ISP. It’s a backup service. They don’t know I’m Mr. Backup. I could just as well be my Mom (who is on Mozy) and have no idea that I’ve done something dumb like accidentally uninstall the application or set it never to backup. When you’re selling a backup service directly to the consumer, the least you owe them is an email if they’re not backing up, don’t you think? I still like Mozy. But I think they should change this practice…

We reached out to Mozy to determine their notification poliy, whether you are Mr. Backup or not, and they emailed the following response:

We decided to put our notifications in the client instead of in e-mail because people get so many e-mails that they may miss the notification. We want our customers to know if a backup isn’t happening. For this reason, the client pop up box doesn’t go away until you click to remove it. That said, we expanding our notification options so that people can have more ways of receiving notifications than through the client only.

Keep in mind that [Preston]was still using the Mozy service even though he wasn’t sending new files to us. We were still storing his information, which includes the power, cooling and management costs incurred to keep his data protected.

Mozy rivals including Carbonite notify users outside the client, according to Preston. “Competitors catch those who uninstall it unintentionally or forget to reinstall after a system change,” he pointed out.

This isn’t the first complaint to surface about Mozy, which EMC Corp. bought in 2007. Users have also complained of slow restore performance last year, a problem Mozy officials blamed on an “isolated bug”, saying customers affected by slow restores would receive discounts or have subscription fees waived in response.


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