Storage Soup


September 14, 2009  9:20 PM

Oracle set to make hardware splash with Sun-based Exadata

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

It began with a full page ad from Oracle in the Wall Street Journal last week, throwing down the gauntlet for server hardware giant IBM, and the first definitive statement from the company in the midst of its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems about the fate of Sun’s hardware product lines.

Speculation has been widespread since the acquisition was revealed that Oracle wants Sun for its Java and Solaris software IP and planned to do away with the Sun’s server and storage hardware business. Instead, Oracle followed the WSJ ad with an invitation sent to press earlier today:

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Oracle launched a database machine with Hewlett-Packard hardware a year ago. There is no indication about the fate of that partnership in light of this announcement.

Also, while the Sun/Oracle Database Machine will contain storage, as the HP/Oracle version does, the fate of Sun’s data storage-specific product lines — including disk arrays as well as tape libraries acquired with StorageTek — has yet to be settled one way or another. The merger between Sun and Oracle itself remains hung up in European Union regulatory review.

One thing’s for sure–Sun storage hardware competitors aren’t waiting for an answer before they pounce.

September 14, 2009  3:17 PM

EMC replaces Donatelli with Intel exec

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Hewlett-Packard Co (HP) poached EMC Corp. storage division head David Donatelli earlier this year, and now EMC has nabbed one of Intel’s top executives to take over running EMC’s storage products division.

Patrick Gelsinger, who heads Intel’s core chip business, has been named President and Chief Operating Officer, EMC Information Infrastructure Products, overseeing Information Storage, RSA Information Security, Content Management and Archiving and Ionix IT management divisions, according to an EMC press release. EMC also promoted Howard Elias, 52, to president and COO, EMC Information Infrastructure and Cloud Services.Wrapped up in this announcement is the first specific indication from EMC CEO Joe Tucci of when he plans to retire. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Tucci indicated he plans to step down in three years, when he’s 65. According to the Journal piece, Tucci considers Elias, Gelsinger and CFO David Goulden potential candidates to succeed him in the CEO position.

Gelsinger reportedly got to know Tucci when he worked with EMC to transition between proprietary IBM microprocessors in earlier models of the Symmetrix high-end disk array to Intel chips with the release of Symmetrix V-Max earlier this year.

Financial analysts noted that the move could quell speculation that EMC might be a takeover target. “While the [Journal] story notes that this announcement could ease some investor sentiment that EMC would be a takeout candidate, we view this announcement as a positive as the company looks to further deepen what has been a very strong executive management bench,” wrote Stifel Nicolaus equity research analyst Aaron Rakers in a note to investors Monday morning.


September 11, 2009  7:30 AM

09-10-2009 Storage Headlines

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Stories referenced:

(0:23) Texas Memory Systems acquires storage virtualization IP

(2:06) Adaptec blows hot and cold for SSDs

(3:38) Hitachi Data Systems adds midrange NAS, courtesy of BlueArc

(5:00) VMworld 2009: Storage vendors showcase new vSphere 4 products
VMWorld 2009: storage vendors continue vSphere 4 product updates
VMware Site Recovery Manager to add support for NFS, multi-site failover
2009: VMware and Cisco support distance VMotion
VMworld 2009: Storage admins grapple with growing VMware deployments

(8:00) Iron Mountain Digital to add e-discovery features to PC cloud data backup service


September 10, 2009  7:25 PM

Seeding the clouds

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

 

When we all get around to writing up those “Look ahead to next year” stories in a few months, there no doubt will be lots of wondering if 2010 will be The Year of the Cloud in storage. It’s obviously too soon to tell if 2010 will indeed by a big year for storage clouds, but it’s becoming clear that late 2009 is The Half-Year of Setting the Table for Cloud Storage.

 

Whether it’s Hewlett-Packard acquisition of clustered file system vendor Ibrix, NetApp finally getting out its scale-out version of Data Ontap, or the EMC-Cisco-VMware VCE cloud alliance – not to mention the much rumored EMC-Cisco joint venture – the major storage vendors are putting their cloud strategies on the table.

 

When will customers flock to the cloud for storage? Carpathia Hosting CTO Jon Greaves, whose company launched its storage cloud last April, is banking on that happening next year.

 

 

“This is the year everybody wants to talk about the cloud and put their toe into the water,” Greaves said. “Next year will be a key year for the cloud, and storage is the onramp to the cloud for a lot of customers, particularly in the enterprise space because the storage cloud is low risk.”

 

Carpathia is still putting together its own pieces for its storage cloud product. The hosting service has used ParaScale Cloud Storage (PCS) for NAS since launching its cloud service, and two weeks ago added more pieces for its storage cloud by acquiring security hosting services company ServerVault. Greaves says ServerVault will provide compliance and security for Carpathia’s storage cloud.

 

“Now we can take the cloud and treat it as a compliance solution,” Greaves says. “We’ll add compliance services by the end of the year.”

 


September 9, 2009  5:25 PM

Adaptec blows hot and cold for SSDs

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

As solid state drives (SSDs) gain more play in enterprise storage, the emphasis shifts from the drives themselves to the software used to control data on SSDs and hard drives.

That management capability was the impetus for Texas Memory Systems’ acquisition of Incipient’s storage virtualization IP, and for intelligent data placement software that EMC and IBM have pledged to deliver.

That is also the key to the MaxIQ SSD Cache Performance Solution that Adaptec rolled out today. Billed as a hybrid SSD-hard drive system by Adaptec, it is actually Adaptec’s MaxIQ SSD caching software combined with a 32GB Intel X25-E SATA SSD.

The software serves as a higher-performance cache by copying frequently accessed “hot” data directly into the SSD cache to improve performance. I/O for the hot data comes from the SSDs, while “cold” data goes to spinning disk.

“Our controller is an agnostic piece in the middle of the data traffic and does all the monitoring,” Adaptec marketing director Scott Cleland says. “If a read request meets the threshold of hot data, it gets copied to the MaxIQ SSD and subsequent requests come from the MaxIQ SSD.”

Adaptec claims it can deliver more than five times the IOPS of disk arrays. It also uses NAND flash instead of DRAM to keep down costs, much like NetApp did with the Performance Acceleration Module IIit launched last month.

MaxIQ will be delivered mostly through distributors and resellers, and Cleland says a MaxIQ SSD Cache Performance Kit costs $1,295 for a 32GB X25-E Extreme with the caching software.


September 8, 2009  3:40 PM

Hitachi Data Systems adds midrange NAS, courtesy of BlueArc

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Hitachi Data Systems today put its brand on the midrange NAS system first launched by its OEM partner BlueArc in July.

The Hitachi NAS 3080 and 3090 are rebranded BlueArc Mercury 50 and 100 systems. The vendors claim the 3080 performs at more than 60,000 IOPS per node and the 3090 at over 100,000 IOPS per node. The 3080 scales to 1 PB, and the 3090 hits 2 PB.

Like BlueArc, HDS bills the new platform as a midrange system for commercial applications rather than a high performance computing (HPC) NAS system. Street pricing begins at $70,000 for an entry-level configuration. Besides price, the biggest difference between the 3080/90 and the HDS 3100 high-end systems is the size of the clusters they support. The 3080 supports two-node clusters, the 3090 clusters four nodes and the 3100 and 3200 scale to eight nodes. HDS sees the 3080/90 as a companion to its Adaptable Modular Storage (ASM) midrange SAN platform and the 3100/3200 continuing to accompany its Universal Storage Platform (USP) enterprise SAN arrays.

On top of the BlueArc hardware, HDS adds the Hitachi Data Discovery Suite to search and index data across all HDS storage and Hitachi Content Archive Platform (HCAP) for policy-based file migration and tiering. “We’re trying to make intelligent file tiering, or HSM, cool again,” said Fred Oh, HDS senior product marketing manager for NAS, “We’re bringing what’s been popular on the high end to the midrange.”

You can certainly argue that HSM never was cool or popular, but at least BlueArc and HDS have clustered name space for scale out NAS. That’s cool, at least for NAS administrators. “One of our nearest competitors in the NAS space is still trying to solve this problem,” Oh said, jabbing NetApp for its long delay in adding support for scale-out NAS clusters to its Ontap operating system.


September 4, 2009  5:35 PM

VMWorld 2009: Reporter’s Notebook and photos

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

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View of the Moscone Center where VMWorld 2009 was held.

Speculation swirls about EMC / Cisco joint venture
According to widespread reports, most recently an anonymously sourced report in the Wall Street Journal, Cisco and EMC Corp. are brewing up a joint venture to more easily bundle up EMC storage with Cisco’s UCS.

Judging by the amount of buzz, there probably is something happening; EMC storage was also exhibited as part of Cisco’s gigantic UCS demo at the show. According to one of my sources, who also requested anonymity, a joint venture would be a way for the companies to jointly market UCS with EMC storage without doubling up on the commission paid to separate sales forces.

If this deal happens, I think it would probably put the kibosh on the longstanding Cisco/EMC merger rumors, which date back at least as long as I’ve been in the storage market. Should they spin off a joint venture, I think it would be an indication that both organizations have gotten too large and complex to fully merge.

It would also be part of a general trend of alignment between companies whose products live at the top of the data center stack – apps, networking, and servers – and middleware/networking/storage counterparts, whether through acquisition a la Sun/Oracle or partnership as with Dell/Brocade.

Cisco and EMC have declined comment.

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Always amazed at the scale of this show…Exhibit A

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Exhibit B: the “feed lot” for meals, in a space remeniscent of an airplane hangar.

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Exhibit C: Hands-on labs were jumping at all hours. This is first thing in the morning, and the line has already stretched out the door…

Asigra on the difference between cloud and online backup
And yes, there is a difference, at least according to Asigra executive vice president Eran Farajun—portability of data.

“Online backup is the closest thing to the cloud, but it still has one foot in the distributed-computing era,” he said. If users want to switch service providers, they pretty much have to orphan data or receive it back in raw format that can be labor-intensive to reassimilate behind the firewall. Asigra had been focused on service providers for years before the cloud computing buzzword became hot, and Farajun said that because Asigra is already set up for multi-tenancy and virtualizes the media server on the service-provider end (the customer has a backup “master” server that collects new data on-site), customer workloads can be shifted directly from one partner to another. It’s an interesting and helpful distinction to make, the kind of thing we need more discussion about as the cloud phenomenon gains steam.

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VMware CEO Paul Maritz gives a keynote speech on Monday morning.

VMware acquires SpringSource
I was curious about this acquisition since the description of SpringSource’s rapid-deployment capabilities for new servers and virtualized applications sounded somewhat similar to the company EMC acquired earlier in the week, FastScale. But according to VMware CEO Paul Maritz in a Q&A session on Tuesday, “the two are only loosly in the same space. SpringSource is a level above [FastScale], thinking in terms of applications, rather than how they’re deployed in the infrastructure. They are complementary.”

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Entering the keynote hall

Seanodes says it’s buddying up with IBM in Europe
Seanodes CEO Frank Gana says the iSCSI SAN vendor is in the midst of deployment with European customers on IBM’s BladeCenter servers. Keep an eye on this pairing – IBM has some iSCSI offerings, but nothing to directly compete with HP/LeftHand running on HP BladeSystem, which HP began offering this week as a VDI reference architecture.

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Some analysts I ran into on the show floor noted with interest that this was Sun’s only presence at the show…

Xsigo usurps Cisco in VMworld show floor demos?
An interesting new addition to demo hardware this year was “What’s under my hood?” signs next to the roaring machines in show floor booths. The one at VMware’s booth consisted of EMC storage, MDS servers, and…Xsigo I/O virtualization interconnects, rather than the more-hyped VCE approach. Cisco was hardly inconspicous, though. Massive UCS racks greeted attendees as soon as they came down the Moscone Center escalators to get to breakout and general sessions (photo below).

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NetApp offers $1 million storage challenge
Building off their 50% storage reduction guarantee for VMware environment (see full story, including fine print), NetApp was offering customers $1 million worth of storage equipment in exchange for a chance to prove they can achieve the 50% reduction. NetApp Chief Marketing Officer Jay Kidd said in this case, the customer agrees to be a public reference for NetApp if the deal works out.

Photos from VCE Distance VMotion sessionPhotobucket
VMware senior staff engineer Shudong Zhou, EMC VP of VMware technology alliance Chad Sakac, and Cisco manager of product marketing Balaji Sivasubramanian fill attendees in on the finer points of VMotion support.

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Chad Sakac, aka Virtual Geek, previews EMC’s active-active storage plans

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Just part of the VCE distance VMotion test bed config.

Read the news story here.

A must-see T-shirt was a big hit at the show: newScale’s WILL PROVISION FOR FOOD. The full story behind it was blogged here. More pics available on Flickr.

More storage news from VMWorld 2009:

Full VMworld 2009 coverage from Tech Target


September 2, 2009  11:43 PM

VMware CTO drops storage hints in futures keynote

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

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

Among the storage-related items:

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

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


September 2, 2009  12:16 AM

EMC buys Kazeon to integrate e-discovery platform

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


August 31, 2009  7:56 PM

EMC acquires FastScale, deepens connection with VMware

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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