Storage Soup

Apr 16 2010   8:36PM GMT

SNW wrap-up

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

While product news was slim at spring SNW this week, there were vendors and other groups on hand to share roadmap details and discuss industry trends. Some tidbits of those conversations:

Fibre Channel Industry Association

Despite the rise of iSCSI and the emergence of 10-gigabit Ethernet, enhanced Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) is charging ahead on its road map for at least the next decade.

The FC storage networking vendors who make up the FCoE say 16 Gbps FC products are just around the corner, with demonstrations anticipated by fall SNW, a 16-gig plugfest by the end of this year and shipping products by late 2011 or early 2012. The FCIA roadmap also calls for 32 Gbps devices by late 2014.

And it won’t stop there. QLogic director of technology Skip Jones, who chairs the FCIA, says the goal is for 1 Tbps FC interswitch links (ISL) by around 2000.

Jones also says the FCIA is committed to optimizing FC’s role in emerging FCoE technology although he says FCoE so far is mostly hype that has created “a trough of disillusionment that’s bigger than the Grand Canyon,” Jones said. “We’re pushing storage networks, regardless of how you pipe them. We want to see a good user experience.”

The FCIA is also working on a projected proposal called FC-SCM (simplified configuration and management), which includes a limited set of capabilities aimed at making FC easier to manage for remote offices.

One FC roadmap has hit a dead end, though. Development of FC disk drives has stopped at 4 Gbps. “That’s becoming uninteresting to us,” Jones said. “What we care about is having more spindles to manage.”

Sepaton

Sepaton’s backup boxes have been virtual tape libraries (VTL) from day one, meaning they use Fibre Channel connectivity and sell primarily to enterprises. But that could be changing with the vendor’s embracing of Symantec’s NetBackup OpenStorage (OST) API. Symantec hasn’t certified Sepaton’s OST support yet, but Sepaton did a demonstration at Symantec Vision this week running backups directly to disk without tape emulation by using OST on a S2100-E2 VTL running DeltaStor deduplication software.

Sepaton VP of worldwide marketing Jay Kramer says OST support will open the door for Sepaton to run over 10-Gigabit Ethernet, and eventually NFS and CIFS NAS protocols.

“OST is a great complementary technology to the direction we’re going,” Kramer said. “OST treats disk as disk, rather than as a tape cartridge. This is a start for us to move to open formats, and we have other things coming.”

Kramer says Sepaton still expects a strong demand for FC VTLs, but NAS support will make it more competitive with EMC’s Data Domain in midrange shops. Data Domain’s NAS interface is one reason it has dominated that market.

Kramer says he’s not impressed with Data Domain’s new Global Deduplication Array, calling it a “bolt-on” product and pointing out that Sepaton supports eight clustered nodes with full dedupe and replication. Data Domain’s GDA clusters two nodes through OST.

Ocarina Networks

While Ocarina Networks is known as a primary data deduplication vendor, its vice president of products Carter George says there are customers using Ocarina for backup. George also said Ocarina is pursuing OEM deals with major vendors to use Ocarina reduction technology in NAS, iSCSI and object storage array systems, as well as on backup appliances.

“Our strategy is to get our stuff built into end user products,” George says.

CommVault

While tape vendors are pitching their medium as the best way to archive, CommVault direct of cloud solutions Jeff Echols says tape will get a run for its money from the cloud.

Echols says a good deal of the interest in CommVault’s Cloud Connector option is from customers looking to archive data.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest in archiving to the cloud instead of tape,” Echols said. “Long-term, this is going to be real interesting for tape.”

Avere Systems

Avere CEO Ron Bianchini says he misread the market when first launching his tiered NAS systems last year, but he doesn’t regret it.

Avere first came to market with two boxes containing SAS and flash solid state drives (SSDs) last year, and planned to follow with a bigger version of those systems. But Bianchini says talking to early customers and potential customers changed his mind, and the FXT 2700 that Avere came out with in January consisted of only SSD and RAM without any spinning disk.

“About 85 percent of the people we talked to already have Fibre Channel spindles and the system runs great the first and second months of the quarter, and rolls over and dies in the last month when orders come flooding in,” he said. “They wanted only SSDs to improve performance. I went to market expecting to sell one thing and got pulled in a completely different direction.”

Bianchini says Avere will issue a software upgrade this year improving its management features and user interface.

LSI

LSI demonstrated new software capabilities for its MegaRAID SAS controllers to optimize performance of direct attached storage (DAS) systems running SSDs. FastPath is designed to improve transactional application throughput to up to 150,000 IOPS while CacheCade is tiering software that turns SSD into a secondary tier of cache to improve transactional I/O performance. LSI claims CacheCade will significantly improve performance of OLTP and server workloads, and other read-sensitive applications.

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