Storage Soup


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, SearchDataBackup.com 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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


August 20, 2009  10:05 PM

Storage blogosphere rumbles with rumors of EMC Atmos Compute

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Reports from storage industry blogs and an a EMC Corp. customer event suggest EMC is getting ready to launch a new cloud computing service based on its Atmos onLine storage as a service offering.

Jeff Darcy, a software engineer and author of a blog dubbed Canned Platypus, reported after a meetup event in the Boston area August 14 that an EMC presentation on Atmos had divulged plans to offer a compute service like Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2):

They’ll be rolling out a compute service “by the end of the year” to support in-data-center access to data. It looks like it’ll be roughly comparable to EC2 plus S3/EBS [Elastic Block Storage]; there was no mention of supporting other features like SDB [Amazon Simple DataBase]/SQS [Simple Queue Service], and of course EMC pricing is likely to keep people on Amazon.

Meanwhile, Nirvanix evangelist Stephen Foskett turned up a link to a copy of the EMC presentation described by Darcy, which contains the following slide:

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Unlike Darcy, Foskett believes this service will be “a real EC2 challenger,” pointing out some differentiators (bold in the original):

  • They (probably) use VMware ESX, which is more common and familiar than Xen. Atmos Compute Service might even be able to handle existing ESX instances migrated in from private servers!
  • Atmos onLine storage supports NFS in addition to the Atmos API, unlike Amazon’s own S3 which is API-only.
  • They offer VLANs for enhanced network security, which Amazon lacks.
  • They seem to offer per-instance internal persistent IP addresses, another area of frustration for EC2 users.

This seems like a likely candidate to be announced at VMWorld in less than two weeks because it ties in with VMware’s persistent cloud messaging. Despite VMware’s marketing efforts, some public cloud service providers such as RackSpace say they find the open-source XenServer more customizable. It would make sense for VMware’s parent company to throw its weight behind VMware as a public cloud offering at this year’s show.


August 19, 2009  9:00 PM

NetApp passes CEO torch from Warmenhoven to Georgens

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

After 15 years as CEO – practically an eternity in the storage business – NetApp’s Dan Warmenhoven stepped down today and named Tom Georgens his successor.

The move was anticipated since NetApp promoted Georgens to COO and president in February 2008, yet Warmenhoven had given no timeframe for his retirement. He will stay on as executive chairman “to help build and expand relationships with certain strategic partners around the world, including service providers and key technology partners,” according to NetApp’s news release.

“I am honored to follow in Dan’s footsteps,” Georgens said in the release. “In just 15 years, NetApp has grown from a $14 million startup with 45 employees into a recognized market leader in networked storage and data management with $3.4 billion in annual revenues and approximately 8,000 employees around the world. Dan also helped to cultivate a unique corporate culture, which has resulted in NetApp consistently being recognized as a great place to work.”

Warmenhoven’s final months were a bit rocky, as NetApp got outbid by its chief rival EMC for data deduplication backup specialist Data Domain. NetApp said it would buy Data Domain last May for $1.5 billion, but EMC eventually acquired Data Domain for $2.1 billion. NetApp did rally from a sales perspective at the end for Warmenhoven, though, and today reported better than expected $838 million in revenue last quarter during rough financial times.

Georgens joined NetApp as head of its Enterprise Storage Systems group in Oct. 2005. He was previously CEO of LSI’s Engenio storage systems division for two years and spent 11 years at EMC.


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