TwinStrata launched CloudArray as an iSCSI virtual appliance in May 2010, and added a physical appliance later in the year. The gateway moves data off to public cloud providers. With CloudArray 3.0, TwinStrata is trying to appeal to customers who want to expand their SAN and private clouds.
“We are broadening our ecosystem of the private and public cloud, and also leveraging existing storage as a starting point,” TwinStrata CEO Nicos Vekiarides said. “We are enabling customers to create a hybrid configuration to combine existing assets.”
Vekiarides said by letting customers use CloudArray on existing storage, they can access their data from anywhere. He claims TwinStrata is enabling a Cloud SAN, with multi-tenancy and multi-site scalability along with local speed performance, data reduction, high availability, encryption, centralized disaster recovery and capacity management.
With CloudArray 3.0, TwinStrata also has automated its caching capability. TwinStrata’s appliance uses the storage on a JBOD or host RAID controller or array for cache. Previously, the cache capacity had to be manually configured.
TwinStrata also added support for Nirvanix’s Cloud Storage Network, Rackspace and OpenSpace private and public clouds.
Mike Kahn, managing director at The Clipper Group, said TwinStrata’s 3.0 release allows customers to “put a veil over existing storage so it can be used as one or more tiers of storage. And over time, they can move to a public or private cloud,” he said.]]>
High end storage systems are back in style, at least according to the latest storage revenue numbers from IDC.
IDC’s worldwide quarterly disk storage tracker research shows that storage systems with an average selling price of $250,000 and above rallied in 2010, finishing the year with 30.2% market share. That, according to senior research analyst Amita Potnis, brings the high-end back to its 2008 pre-financial crisis level.
“There were multiple drivers beyond the remarkable growth in high-end systems, including demand for storage consolidation and datacenter upgrades supported by new product push from a number of vendors,” Pontis said in the IDC release.
Hitachi Data Systems had the most significant high-end product release of 2010 with its Virtual Storage Platform (VSP). HDS revenues jumped nearly 30% in the fourth quarter over 2009 after the VSP release.
Other than the rise of the high end, the fourth quarter of 2010 looked a lot like the rest of the year for storage sales. Ethernet storage – in the form of NAS and iSCSI – continued to outpace the market by a wide margin, as did vendors NetApp and EMC.
For the fourth quarter, IDC put external storage system revenue at over $6 billion for an increase of 16.2% over 2009. The NAS market grew 41.3% with EMC owning 52.8% of the market and NetApp 23.7%. The iSCSI SAN market grew 42.1% in the quarter, led by Dell with 32.6% and HP with 14.7%.
NetApp overall revenue grew 43.7% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, and it increased market share from 8.4% in 2009 to 10.3%. EMC remained the overall leader with 26% share, followed by IBM at 16.3% and HP at 11.6%. HDS (8.7%) and Dell (7.9%) round out the top six behind NetApp. HDS (29.7% growth), EMC (26.3%) and NetApp outpaced the overall market gain. IBM, HP and Dell lost market share in the quarter.
For the entire year, IDC put external storage revenue at $21.2 billion for an 18.3% increase over 2009. EMC led the way with 25.6% market share, followed by IBM at 13.8%, NetApp and HP with 11.1% each, and Dell with 9.1%. Only EMC and NetApp gained market share for 2010 among the top five.
Unified storage has gone from a specialty item to something offered from nearly every storage vendor in recent years. In the beginning, vendors such as NetApp took added block capability to their file system storage and NetApp’s biggest rivals have since followed down that unified path.
The evolution continues, however, and multiprotocol systems will likely include more technological advances over the coming years.
As a refresher, I define Unified Storage as:
Unified Storage is a storage system that provides both file and block access simultaneously. The block access is accomplished through use of an interface such as Fibre Channel, SAS, or iSCSI over Ethernet. The file-based access is to a file system on the storage system using either CIFS or NFS over Ethernet.
An implied piece of unified storage is that it requires unified management, one storage system management for block and file data. Without that, the critical goal of consolidation and simplification is compromised.
Some vendors have provided block storage through both Fibre Channel and iSCSI, while others stick to iSCSI only because it is simpler to deliver. The following diagram gives a very general view that compares the implementations for block and file storage:
However, there are excellent uses of unified storage:
But vendors haven’t just been combining block and file protocols in the same package. Recent features added to unified systems include automated tiering, solid state devices (SSDs) as a tier for higher performance, and support for cascading read/write-capable snapshots to add value for use cases such as virtual desktop infrastructures (VDIs).
What should be expected next for unified storage? It’s likely that vendors will package other capabilities together and call that the new “unified storage.” That would dilute the meaning of “unified” and require a qualifying phrase after it.
Soran didn’t give specifics on the launch, but called it “the largest, most comprehensive hardware and software release in our company history.” He said the next version of Storage Center will increase performance and scalability, but will be based on Compellent’s existing architecture.
The release is noteworthy because Compellent hasn’t done much with its storage system hardware since it first rolled out Storage Center in 2004. The vendor’s strategy is to keep adding software features, such as the Data Progression automated tiered storage application, Dynamic Capacity thin provisioning and Remote Instant Replay remote replication. Soran said there will be software enhancements too for the upcoming system, including the Live Volume data migration application the vendor previewed last year.
“Over the next few quarters you’ll see a series of new product releases that … will provide enterprise data centers greater performance, scalability, efficiency, ease of use and reliability, and all will be based upon our existing virtualization and dynamic block architecture,” Soran said of the upcoming product launches.
The new systems will come as Compellent faces additional competitive challenges. Hewlett-Packard’s acquisition of 3PAR has increased HP’s midrange product offering, and EMC is preparing a low-end midrange system that is expected to be sold exclusively through the channel, the same go-to-market strategy used by Compellent.
Compellent had strong results for last quarter, beating Wall Street expectations by a wide margin with revenue of $42.1 million for a 31% increase over last year.]]>
HDS is making two updates available now – a new High-Density Storage Expansion tray and a NEBS-certified DC power option for the 2500 model.
The High-Density Storage Expansion Tray holds up to 48 one-terabyte SATA disk drives in 4U; existing AMS trays hold 15 SAS or SATA drives in 3U. The maximum number of drives supported in the 2500 (480) hasn’t changed, but the maximum configuration now takes up one less rack than with the 15-drive trays. Good news for users focusing on storage and energy efficiency. A fully loaded high-density tray is listed at $83,260.
The AMS 2000 series has had the option of running on battery power (DC) since the arrays were first announced last fall, but the new 2500DC model has been certified as compliant with the Network Equipment Building System (NEBS) standard for use in telecom and other “lights out” environments.
According to HDS senior product marketing manager Mark Adams, there’s little technical difference between the certified and non-certified versions, but the certified version “has been proven operational through intense earthquake activity” and certified by an independent lab. Another difference between the NEBS-certified and non-NEBS certified models is the price: the compliant list price is $102,870, while the non-compliant list price is $92,500.
Later this year, HDS will make 8 Gbps Fibre Channel host ports available for the AMS 2300 and AMS 2500 models (internal disks will remain SAS or SATA). Security features to become available in the second half of 2009 include support for external authentication, meaning the AMS array and authenticating server don’t have to reside on the same network. Finally, as announced last week, HDS is extending its Dynamic Provisioning (HDP) software to run on the AMS in addition to the high-end USP-V.
User Matt Stroh, SAP business administrator for Wisconsin-based Industrial Electric Wire and Cable (IEWC), said he’s looking forward to deploying thin provisioning for the AMS 2300 he bought to replace an EMC Clariion CX-300 and HDS AMS 500 at the beginning of the year. “I’d like to get my hands on that as soon as possible,” he said. “We have a lot of file systems just storing SAP and Oracle binaries, and I don’t need much storage for them, but I’ve been giving them a big chunk anyway.”
While dynamic provisioning is going to be available for AMS, the Zero-Page Reclaim feature recently announced for the USP-V version of HDP will not be available for the forseeable future, according to HDS officials, who have not disclosed a technical reason why that’s the case.]]>
The V-Max EMC launched a month ago is a nod in some ways to 3Par’s modular cluster-node architecture, and a move away from the giant monolith enterprise system. 3Par had success while people were waiting for the new Symmetrix – Tuesday it reported revenue of $48.5 million last quarter, an increase of 37% from last year and 1% from the fourth quarter of last year. That’s compared to declines in EMC’s Symmetrix and Clariion midrange systems of 18% year-over-year and 25% from the previous quarter. But what happens to 3Par’s InServ business if EMC’s sales spike from V-Max?
Scott came to his company’s earnings call prepared to talk about V-Max, and launched into a lengthy answer when asked about it. He laid out what he considers V-Max’s failings – no improved RAID management or ASIC-assisted workload, poor thin provisioning and limited support for wide striping, the system is an untested “version one” of a new architecture, and so on. “In other words,” Scott concluded, “it does not have the agility or efficiency necessary for utility computing and virtual data centers. It seems to have missed the mark in much the same was the [IBM] XIV did.”
Of course, EMC has already made its own case for the V-Max contradicting many of Scott’s points, and will continue to try and press its case to 3Par customers. One feature where EMC is unquestionably ahead is in its support of solid state drives (SSDs). 3Par is the last major storage system vendor to add SSDs to the mix, and Scott says it’s in no hurry to jump on the bandwagon.
“We believe that solid state disk will have a kind of meaningful place in data storage, but the price performance characteristics of it have to change,” he said. “You should expect to see us include solid state disk maybe around the turn of the year, but the major benefit that solid state disk provides is something we achieve through autonomic wide striping, which is not necessarily available to many of the legacy incumbents’ architectures. So our need for solid state disk is not nearly as significant as theirs.”]]>
These numbers come in ahead of competitive systems from IBM, NetApp and EMC. The EMC CX 3-40 was tested last January by archrival NetApp, making its SPC benchmarks controversial, but as listed a 22 TB system with 8.5 TB used and mirrored produced 24,997 SPC-1 IOPS. A NetApp 3170 with 32 TB and 19.6 used and mirrored resulted in 60,515 June 10. A 37.5 TB IBM 5300 with 13.7 TB used and mirrored produced 58,158 SPC-1 IOPS Sept. 25.
I found it interesting that with one 2,000-IOPS deviation between the IBM 5300 and NetApp 3170, the systems generally performed better according to which had been most recently tested. Note also how much of an outlier EMC is, both in terms of capacity used and total capacity. It was also an outlier in its free space, with just under 1 TB unused. IBM and NetApp both left approximately 5 TB of free space in their configurations, and Pillar had 16 TB of free space.
I do have to wonder how much weight users give to these industry benchmarks when selecting a product. NetApp’s submitting EMC systems to SPC, a flap last summer over server virtualization benchmark testing, and continued inconsistency among vendors as to who submits systems for benchmarking leaves a lot of potential reasons to take benchmarks with a grain of salt.]]>
No suprise there. Practically every FC storage vendor is saying that. But where it gets tricky with Dell is, it dropped $1.4 billion in iSCSI SAN vendor EqualLogic less than a year ago. And where EqualLogic’s PS Series iSCSI SAN arrays fit into the converged picture isn’t clear yet.
“Protocols will not necessarily be the top factor in choosing the next storage system for customers,” Endebrock said. “We get caught up in the latest cool technology trend on [the vendor and press] side, but customers don’t necessarily care about that.” He added that lossless Ethernet “will float all storage boats” and that “customers see a place for all protocols.”
Also, “linking EqualLogic to iSCSI is probably not the best way to think about it–we also provide a scaling architecture and solve higher customer needs–it’s far more than just a protocol discussion.”
So far, Dell spokespeople aren’t willing to go into further detail about what its exact plan is for EqualLogic. “We continue to investigate our options and will support 10 Gigabit Ethernet as well as Data Center Ethernet with EqualLogic. We’re going to watch our customers’ needs and what the customers want,” Endebrock said.
A presentation at Storage Networking World titled “Yes, Fibre Channel and iSCSI Can Coexist” by director of global storage and network marketing Praveen Asthana, offered some clues about how Dell sees it all fitting together. “Mixed is in,” Dell’s Asthana said. But he identified Ethernet as the glue–whether it’s providing the base layer of the unified network or providing a simple management and monitoring interface for all endpoints on an IP network.
While traditional Fibre Channel offers better performance for business applications than traditional iSCSI, it also offers better performance for streaming applications and high-performance computing (HPC) workloads, Asthana pointed out. But he also projected scale-out iSCSI, especially with 10 GbE, will surpass the performance offered by both earlier protocols.
FCoE is still a topic that remains in the eye of the beholder. An attempt by FC vendors to stay relevant against 10 GbE? Or Ethernet taking over the data center? Depends on who you talk to.
Bottom line: Dell will support FC as long as it supports Clariion. Endebrock was mostly mum when it came to the relationship with EMC, as addressed by EMC CEO Joe Tucci in the company’s third-quarter earnings call on Wednesday. “Joe actually laid out that we have a great relationship and we’re actively working together on how to go to market on the best way possible, working on fitting our product lines together. We’re going back to basics and at the ground level refocusing on where we’ve seen success in the past.”]]>
This is similar to what I heard recently from Roman Kichorowsky, former director of PR for EqualLogic, whose name is on a Dell press release as recently as July 10 but who has now moved on to FalconStor.
It’s not unusual for employees to leave in these kind of acquisitions. There are real cultural differences with almost every merger, and you’ll always find people who smile big until the press coverage dies down, wait for options to vest, and then get out.
But Dell’s retention of EqualLogic’s service and support staff as well as channel partners were major concerns for EqualLogic customers after the acquisition. The departure of PR and marketing people almost surely won’t affect the customers. But it’s worth keeping an eye on who else chooses to exit.]]>
That’s why his heir apparent left QLogic in March, and QLogic isn’t looking for a replacement. “I’ll be hanging around for awhile,” Desai, who has been QLogic’s CEO since 1995 and its chairman since 1999, told me.
He wouldn’t have said that a year ago. QLogic hired Jeff Benck from IBM as COO and President in April 2007 with the understanding that he would replace Desai in a year. But Desai stayed put and Benck left QLogic – eventually signing on with its HBA rival Emulex as COO.
Desai says QLogic isn’t trying to replace Benck, because it doesn’t need to replace the CEO. “The whole plan was for us to have a long-term transition, and it didn’t work out,” Desai said. “I’ve been fully engaged the last few months and I expect to be fully engaged for awhile. I won’t even talk to the board [about a COO] unless we plan a transition, which I don’t expect to do.”
Desai said his change of heart came because the storage networking world is so busy now. The industry is in a transition to 8-Gbps Fibre Channel with Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and 16-gig FC coming up on its heels. QLogic is also trying to make inroads in InfiniBand. “There’s so much activity going on now, I don’t want to disturb anything,” he said. “Our team has been working together for so many years, and I don’t want to bring anybody in from the outside to disturb things. There’s a time to do a transition, and I don’t think this is the time.”
Of course, if Desai is looking for a lull in emerging storage technologies to retire he just might work forever.]]>