I found it interesting that neither of these launches were coordinated with major storage events. This was a bit unexpected because most major storage announcements come just prior to storage events -– either industry-wide events or the vendors’ own shows — so the vendors have the opportunity to speak in depth with the assembled press, analysts and customers about their new products. In these cases, HDS and NetApp decided not to use any of the recent storage events or wait until the next storage event.
This raises the question of what would be considered a major storage event now.
VMworld, which occurs each August, is probably the biggest show for announcing new storage products from multiple vendors. VMworld is filled with IT professionals involved with server virtualization. And these pros usually realize that storage systems can make a large difference in the number of virtual machines supported per physical server and ultimately determine the success of server virtualization.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show held this month in Las Vegas has become another storage showcase event. There were more than 20 storage product announcements at this year’s NAB. But the storage systems at NAB have different usage characteristics than traditional IT.
There are also many storage announcements at the Supercomputing conference, with the next (SC12) scheduled for November. Super computing systems are focused on the high performance computing market.
Both NAB and SC have large numbers of attendees representing many different interest areas in their industry. NAB drew more than 100,000 attendees this year. VMworld is increasing yearly in attendance with the focus more from traditional IT than as a specialty vertical. Years ago the major announcement venues for storage were Comdex and CeBit.
Over the next two months, Symantec, EMC, Hewlett-Packard and Dell will all host their own conferences and launch products there instead of at industry-wide shows.
This means there is no longer a handful of major shows that we can look to for storage product news anymore. They can come from the remaining industry storage shows such as Storage Decisions or Storage Networking World (SNW), more targeted shows such as NAB, Supercomputing , vendor-sponsored shows, or independent of shows. You can’t stay up to speed by going to one or two shows a year anymore. Reading the coverage from SearchStorage and the other TechTarget storage sites is probably the best way to keep up with storage announcements.
(Randy Kerns is Senior Strategist at Evaluator Group, an IT analyst firm).
Another shot of the main keynote hall in action — this time with dramatic lighting!
The cloud messaging was inescapable anywhere within a mile of the show.
All aboard the Virtual Storage Zone.
Salesy / bizdev types wheeling and dealing in the Westin lobby adjacent to the conference.
Fenway Park stilt walker on the show floor.
Burned out laptop being displayed in the Kroll-OnTrack booth. They claim to have recovered the data from the hard drive that was inside this mess.
Not sure what playing with Matchbox cars has to do with EMC storage, but attendees seemed to enjoy it.
The Centera Virtual Archive.
Clariion man pins. Not pictured: the tiny blinking LEDs on each pin.
The jury’s still out about enterprises’ embrace of cloud storage, but it’s not for lack of slick messaging.
…the private cloud was still haunting Boston this weekend — spotted this cab while I was out in the city Sunday.
VMax to add native VPlex capabilities
According to an EMC whitepaper on the architecture of the VPlex storage virtualization product it launched this week, “VPlex Local supports local federation today. EMC Symmetrix VMax hardware also adds local federation capabilities natively to the array later in 2010 and will work independently of the VPlex family.” One observer’s response: “Why buy [a separate] VPlex?”
More shots from the welcome reception and Counting Crows concert:
EMC keynote speaker previews future infrastructure management offerings
During a keynote by EMC EVP/COO Pat Gelsinger on Monday, EMC VMware czar Chad Sakac previewed some new “service oriented” features of the Ionix infrastructure management software product line, including the next Ionix Unified Infrastructure Manager (2.0) and Project Redwood. Redwood is a planned user self-service portal planned as a future capability of VMware. There’s talk that Redwood will also be integrated with EMC’s VPlex to give access to data across geographic distance. UIM 2.0, meanwhile, will add chargeback and other features to the software that Sakac said will make internal IT more like a service, including multi-tenancy, chargeback and SLA-based provisioning.
Pat Gelsinger’s keynote on the main stage Monday afternoon.
FLARE/DART and midrange array unification – connecting the dots
EMC ended months of speculation about the convergence of its Clariion and Celerra midrange disk array products with an announcement of a unified management console for the two offerings, as well as disclosures by executives that further convergence is on its way. That convergence includes common replication tools and a more consolidated hardware footprint. Today, while Celerra’s gateway can front a Clariion array, the two engines that make a Clariion a Clariion (FLARE) and a Celerra a Celerra (DART) remain separate entities. If further unification is to take place, there are three options: 1) mash the two code bases together into one 2) run them alongside one another using server virtualization within a single storage server 3) run them alongside one another using separate cores of a multicore processor.
While EMC has finally copped to the fact that it is condensing its platforms, officials from the C-suite on down continue to insist that they will make either standalone offering available to people who want it (in other words, no plan to end-of-life one or the other).
Speculation about plans to mash together code, meanwhile, seem to have come from NetApp’s competitive analysis, which concluded the two codebases will be brought together under something called the Common Block File System (CBFS), an EMC answer to WAFL. CBFS already exists, handling thin provisioning and block compression for both arrays, and it’s possible its role could expand.
Mark Sorenson, senior vice president of EMC’s Unified Storage Division, declined to say exactly how the consolidation might work, but seemed to eliminate a combined codebase when, after presented with the three options for unification, answered (I thought rather pointedly) that server virtualization and multicore processors are “good, new, enabling technologies for consolidation.” Mashing the code together under CBFS also wouldn’t necessarily make sense if EMC plans to continue to sell one-off standalone offerings depending on what users ask for.
Other insiders hinted that the multicore processor route is the one that EMC will take, saying “stuff that’s just coming to maturation will come to the fore.” This would seem to fit with Intel’s continued development of multicore processor chip sets, as well as Gelsinger’s prior experience as an executive at Intel.
EMC CEO Joe Tucci’s opening keynote was piped into the press room.
Centera, Atmos, V-Max – the next place for product convergence?
With Celerra/Clariion coming together, a thought struck me as I stood on the show floor at EMC World Wednesday, surveying the happily humming racks whirring away at several separate booths. There was a Centera Virtual Archive set up, with one box labeled “London” and the other local to show how Centera data can be federated over distance. In another, a Symmetrix V-Max, demonstrating how data can be federated over multiple arrays in a mesh architecture for scalability. And finally, there was a tutorial being given on VPlex, a new virtualization product that can be used to virtualize multiple modular arrays and…federate data over distance. To complete the circle, see item above about V-Max adding native VPlex capabilities. Not shown: Atmos, which also consists of a scale-out system built on commodity hardware with an object interface that can be used to federate unstructured…do you see where I’m going with this?
I talked with one of the booth workers about the Centera a little bit. I asked her what the real difference is between Centera, especially the Centera Virtual Archive, and Atmos specifically. She mentioned the number of ISVs that have already written to Centera, the fact that it uses MD5 hashing to demonstrate objects have not been modified, etc. But is there anything about those different features that couldn’t be ported to one of the other boxes? Particularly since Atmos and Centera are object-based already?
Gelsinger briefs press and analysts.
Experts hash out FAST Cache, potential future features
I already included some of the discussion between Gestalt IT’s Stephen Foskett and DeepStorage.net’s Howard Marks about FAST 2 in my piece about updates to Clariion and Celerra but the two self-described geeks also chewed over FAST Cache pretty thoroughly Tuesday.
Foskett and Marks both pumped EMC’s Sorenson for details on the use cases of FAST 2 vs. FAST Cache. Sorenson said FAST is meant to place data on tiers of storage according to historical performance characteristics, something Foskett described as “driving using the rear-view mirror.” FAST Cache would be for “bursty” unanticipated performance spikes.
Marks said he’d like to see more user control and predictive features added to FAST Cache, so that if users know which data will become hot at a later date, say, the end of a quarter, they can schedule a move up to cache and back out again when the burst is over. This also might allow users to create an “exclude list” of data that shouldn’t be put in cache regardless of access patterns. Sorenson said it was something EMC was considering exposing to ISVs through an API set, ISVs like, say, VMware.
“But,” Foskett pointed out, “previous attempts at user-tunable caches were colossal failures. I can see some use cases, but it’s probably better to turn it on and leave it alone.” But some awareness within the cache of files as well as blocks – the better to put file metadata in cache, for example – was something Foskett said EMC should consider, and something Sorenson also said was possible down the road. “That dream of file-level Flash cache is what Sun has with ZFS and Avere has also described already,” Foskett pointed out.
The Bloggers’ Lounge, seen from the main keynote hall escalator.
Compellent fires back at VPlex; NetApp still snarking
EMC’s VPlex and midrange disk array announcements this week have caused a stir among competitors who have begun trying to pick apart EMC’s news.
I would have expected Compellent to start in right away on FAST 2 given its own sub-LUN tiered storage features, but Compellent reps said they haven’t dug into FAST 2’s inner workings yet to offer a detailed comparison.
In the meantime, Compellent issued a statement pitting its LiveVolume data migration feature against VPlex:
There are a few similarities between VPLEX and Compellent’s Live Volume technology. Both solutions tackle the problem of non-disruptive volume migration, which is useful in disaster avoidance, load balancing or maintenance situations. That’s where the similarities end.
The EMC solution requires multiple high-end VPLEX hardware engines and many high bandwidth, low latency network connections. Compellent’s focus is on integrating a software solution that scales. EMC has a significant focus on high-end bandwidth, and all that comes with a hefty price tag (about $77k for a local-only, interconnect system vs. the $5k license for Live Volume).
VPLEX is designed as an add-on set of rack-mounted servers, which requires a change in the data center topology and the addition of a new in-between configuration. Compellent’s Live Volume is a software solution that fits in with Compellent’s Fluid Data architecture, meaning that it supports any Storage Center configuration or network connections, and can leverage existing network connections without impact on write performance.
Meanwhile, in case you’d forgotten how bitter the rivalry remains between NetApp and EMC, look no further than NetApp’s response to EMC’s midrange storage announcement:
Yesterday’s announcements demonstrate that EMC has finally realized the importance of storage efficiency. NetApp is the undisputed industry leader in storage – from measurement to capabilities, from efficiency guarantees to reporting and optimization – across all systems, management products and workloads such as virtualization and database environments. EMC is clearly following our lead, but NetApp, with its V-Series open systems controller able to optimize an EMC system, continues to deliver greater value and storage efficiency than EMC can deliver natively on its own systems.
DD Boost is similar to Symantec’s OpenStorage API (OST), in that it integrates the target data deduplication device with backup software, but in this case it also offloads some of the processing to the backup server as well. Per the press release: “The DD Boost software library is distributed to the backup server and identifies data segments inline as they arrive. After asking the Data Domain storage system which segments are new, it compresses and forwards only the unique segments.” Surprisingly, no mention of Avamar in this release.
Unisphere puts Celerra and Clariion management into a single pane, and includes cross-array reporting. EMC is also rolling out FAST v2 (block level) for Clariion and Celerra today, as well as new integration with VMware through VMware’s vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI) and a new vCenter plugin.
Finally, Ionix Storage Configuration Advisor 2.0 “automates the validation of storage configuration best-practices in physical and virtual environments, utilizes agentless discovery…and provides detailed reports and trend analysis that improve storage change and configuration management processes.’
Stay tuned for followup reports with further detail.]]>
EMC CEO Joe Tucci officially kicked off EMC World 2010 with a keynote speech this morning that included an obvious reference to Oracle Corp.’s “stack” offerings. “Other companies are building the whole stack,” including servers, database, middleware and storage, Tucci said (it’s the reference to database and middleware that’s the Oracle giveaway).
Tucci said this approach will lead to a siloed data center, as with previous waves of IT that now includes silos of mainframe and distributed systems at many enterprises. “If three or four vendors do it and you’re not using everything from one vendor, you’ll have stacks that run into the same problems we have today,” Tucci said. “We also have a stack,” he said, referring to EMC’s vBlock products with Cisco and VMware, “but rather than a verticalization approach, we’re taking a virtualization approach.”
Tucci also referred to EMC’s most recent Digital Universe report on data growth, and outlined EMC’s general vision for managing that growth using cloud computing and data center federation. While much of the data growth will be introduced by consumers using mobile phones that send multimedia such as photos and video, or specialized machines like medical imaging devices, some 80% of the data will still be managed by enterprises, Tucci said. “You won’t have to buy [resources] for the peaks of the year or the day When you reach the peaks, you can federate,” Tucci said.
In support of this vision, EMC announced VPlex, a new wide-area caching device that will pool data over geographic distance this morning.
In a Q&A session following the keynote, Tucci was asked about acquisition strategies given EMC’s estimated $6.5 million in free cash per its most recent 10-Q. Despite this free cash flow and the $2 billion acquisition of Data Domain last year, Tucci said he still prefers the “string of pearls” acquisition approach. So far this year, EMC has bought one company, Archer Technologies, LLC, a provider of governance, risk, and compliance software.
After Tucci mentioned EMC needs to compete better in the low end of the midrange on EMC’s last earnings call, its Iomega division came out with the ix12-300r, which blurred the lines between the top end of the Iomega line and the low end of EMC’s Clariion and Celerra lines. Would the new low-midrange products Tucci alluded to on that earnings call come from the Iomega or Clariion/Celerra side? “We will have a line with functionality from Clariion and Celerra that will be driven significantly downmarket,” Tucci said. “Iomega will remain below that.”]]>
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.
Always amazed at the scale of this show…Exhibit A
Exhibit B: the “feed lot” for meals, in a space remeniscent of an airplane hangar.
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.
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.”
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.
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).
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 session
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.
Chad Sakac, aka Virtual Geek, previews EMC’s active-active storage plans
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]]>
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:
Another topic getting a lot of buzz at the show this year is distance VMotion–stay tuned for more on that front.]]>
Venture capitalists and business development types of all stripes met in downtown Boston today for the first BD Event, a new networking conference for vendors in the storage, security and virtualization markets. According to a panel discussion this afternoon, the IT market can expect further consolidation along the lines of Sun/Oracle and NetApp/ or EMC/Data Domain, but VCs said that will make room for new, more innovative companies, especially in cloud storage.
The panel included two executives from storage vendors with M&A experience: John O’Brien, senior director of corporate development at EMC; and Peter Levine, senior vice president and general manager at Citrix, and reps from three venture capitalist firms: Mark Rostick, director of Intel Capital,; Ash Ashutosh, partner with Greylock Partners (Ashutosh also sold AppIQ to HP a few years ago); and Charles Curran, general partner at Valhalla Partners, a VC firm that backed Nirvanix, LeftHand Networks, and Sepaton.
According to Levine, the IT industry can expect more heavy consolidation throughout this year, “but that consolidation is more financially driven than customer-driven,” he said. “I don’t think IT buyers really want one virtual integrated stack – the last thing customers want is IT lock-in.”
Nonetheless, he added, “Consolidation absolutely will happen. The big survivors, to grow, have to start getting into areas they weren’t in before, and without question that verticalizes the market.”
(As for who the likely candidates are for further consolidation – no one I talked to at the event had heard anything about actual talks, but there was a lot of chatter at the conference about IBM/Brocade and Cisco/NetApp acquisitions).
Levine and O’Brien said smaller acquisitions at their own companies are being scrutinized more and more carefully these days. Smaller companies take longer to add to an acquiring company’s bottom line and tend to raise operational costs during integration, Levine said. Instead, Citrix will probably focus more on new partnerships with promising small companies. EMC’s O’Brien said that EMC has done just two small asset deals so far this year (aside from its $1.8 billion bid for Data Domain).
Panel moderator Andrew Williamson of Alexander Dunham Capital Group Inc. said the percentage of asset sales among new acquisitions has risen in the last six months to 30%. That type of deal represented 16 to 20% of M&A activity in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of VC firms funding startups has declined since 2007 as has their average investment in new companies, along with the revenue multiples they can expect as a return when their portfolio companies are sold or go public.
In other words, get ready for a world in which the number of major vendors will shrink, but there will be less funding for the types of companies that popped up between 2000 and 2003 with a burst of innovation that led to a flurry of IPOs and acquisitions over the last few years.
However, the old rule still applies – “Big companies can’t innovate at the level of startups,” said Valhalla’s Curran. The VCs assured the audience that new storage and security products would still be coming down the pike.
Cloud storage and software will be king
The VCs on the panel agreed about where the money’s going in storage these days. They all indicated they were doing few if any deals involving hardware systems. “It’s less capital-intensive,” said Curran, adding that the shift towards IP networking in the enterprise data center and virtualization would be the biggest trends going forward. Ashutosh also said he was most interested in software companies. “The trend is shifting away from boxes and to the disruptive nature of virtualization and the cloud,” he said. Intel’s Rostick said his company would invest in at least one more security and one more storage company this year, and would also be focused on the cloud, virtualization and what he called “I/O complexity.”
EMC’s O’Brien said he’d been “well coached to stick to [EMC CEO] Joe [Tucci]‘s script” when it comes to Data Domain, and he wouldn’t get specific about what other areas EMC may be eyeing for acquisitions this year. He did say EMC also would focus on virtualization and the cloud going forward.
Some of the cloud technologies that come out in the next year or so may look familiar to IT users, but optimizing technologies for cloud deployment will become its own area of expertise, according to Ashutosh. “There’s an emerging trend of innovation around delivery and business model – not just new ideas in technology, but also business,” he said.]]>
View of the Gin Blossoms concert from behind the VIP Lounge.
The Gin Blossoms perform on a screen (top / foreground) and onstage (bottom / background).
Attendees take in the Gin Blossoms concert at the Welcome Reception Sunday night.
The Gin Blossoms’ lead singer, Robin Wilson, stands on the drum kit (center-right) during the band’s performance.
It’s just not a tech trade show without blinking LED trinkets. This year, they were at the bottom of Brocade-themed beer glasses.
The Gin Blossoms’ Robin Wilson performs.
Monday morning – a stampede for the show floor just after it opened.
Hard at work inside the Bloggers’ Lounge.
View of the funky exterior of the Bloggers’ Lounge.
Orlando, I discovered on this trip, is not a walking city. Technically, the Orange County Convention Center was across the street from our hotel, but ‘across the street’ means something different in Orlando than Boston or New York – in this case the street was a six-lane divided highway. Also, the fact that we could see part of the OCCC from the hotel didn’t mean the conference was necessarily close by – the structure (or group of structures) is so enormous we had to be bussed a few blocks to get to the right concourse. Once inside, the scale didn’t seem to get much smaller. Needless to say, by this time Monday afternoon I was pretty jealous of the OCCC staff who were jetting around on Segways.
EMC directors’ chairs, ready for executives’ closeups.
EMC’s Rich Napolitano, Mark Sorenson and Brian Gallagher at a panel session with press Monday afternoon.
Dual controllers: VMware CEO Paul Maritz (left) and EMC CEO Joe Tucci (right) field questions from press on Monday.
VCE reps Chuck Hollis of EMC, Ed Bugnion of Cisco and Parag Patal of VMware host a roundtable discussion with press Tuesday morning.
EMC to add cloud options for Networker, Avamar and RecoverPoint
One more EMC storage product roadmap nugget before we conclude our coverage of the show – senior vice president of storage software Mark Sorenson said Tuesday afternoon that EMC is planning cloud integration for at least three of its backup and replication software products: NetWorker, Avamar and RecoverPoint.
Sorenson said he expects enterprise customers will want a hybrid approach to storing data in the cloud, with some data left on-site. NetWorker will offer backup to EMC’s cloud data center as a media option. Customers without their own DR site will be able to replicate Avamar Data Stores or storage arrays using RecoverPoint to the cloud as a secondary data center. The NetWorker and Avamar integrations will come first, with RecoverPoint integration expected next year.
EMC eyeing Axxana?
Speaking of RecoverPoint, startup Axxana demonstrated its Phoenix DR appliance with RecoverPoint integration on the show floor. Axxana describes its product as a “black box” resistant to fire, earthquake, power failures and flood. It performs replication using cellular signals.
It intrigued me when Sorenson, unprompted, pointed to Axxana among all the others on the show floor. He also said EMC has already made a $1 million investment in the Israel-based company. He wouldn’t say anything about whether an acquisition is likely, of course, but it’ll be worth watching out for.
EMC product convergence, revisited
For a few years now, I’ve been harboring a sneaking suspicion about EMC’s hardware products. Ever since I saw an executive at a customer event talk about a unified backup and archiving appliance, I’ve been noticing more and more similarities among EMC’s other products as well. There are the common disk array enclosures (DAE) between Symmetrix, Clariion and Atmos; the disclosure here at the show that the fully automated storage tiering (FAST) feature already added to Celerra and Symm will be ported to Clariion by the end of this year; the use of the same Intel processors within Clariion and Symmetrix V-Max.
Because of these developments, it’s been easy to imagine future arrays that would work like the fabled unified backup appliance – standardized commodity hardware that’s given personality by software. I’m not the only one who’s gotten that impression, either.
But if that’s EMC’s ultimate strategy, they spent some time at this show trying to steer people off that trail. Joe Tucci said in a press Q&A Monday that while Clariion and Symmetrix will be able to “talk to each other” sometime next year, and despite the common processors, the two remain distinctly different in hardware as well as software. Even though they have the same kind of processor, they have different quantities of processors inside the system. In the midrange Clariion system, dual controllers mean 50% performance degradation if one fails; with more “engines” in the Symmetrix, it can take more of a licking and keep on ticking.
And what ever happened to that unified backup appliance? Back in Sept. 2007, the timeframe set for the release of the product was within 12 to 24 months. I asked an EMC spokesperson about it, and received this statement in return:
We don’t have plans for a combined backup and archive appliance.
Since [the] presentation [in 2007] we have delivered Avamar appliances and continue to deliver Disk Library appliances for backup. We also continue to provide Centera as our primary platform for archive.
Integrated management is central to EMC’s data protection strategy for its customers and we’ve already executed off that strategy with a number of our announcements including those announced today. Much has changed over the last two years around next-generation infrastructures and based on the feedback we’ve received from our customers, we feel we are making the right integrations to help our customers reduce complexity, increase storage efficiency and cut costs.
Now that I’ve seen V-Max and Atmos, I can understand how my guesses at the future of EMC hardware were close, but I don’t expect full convergence as described with the backup and archive appliance.
VMware, Cisco, EMC host press panel
EMC’s Chuck Hollis, Cisco’s Ed Bugnion and VMware’s Parag Patal held a panel discussion with press Tuesday morning to emphasize the coziness of what they’re calling the VCE alliance.
Given the disconnect between EMC’s rhapsodizing about an automated virtual future and the inherent conservatism of the storage audience, I asked the panelists when they thought this “new paradigm” they’re talking about would come to fruition.
“I still talk to some people who see iSCSI as newfangled,” Hollis said. “We won’t see majority adoption for many, many years.”
Server virtualization, which lays the groundwork for the new virtual data center we heard so much about at the show, “has already passed its tipping point,” Patal pointed out.
Cisco talks FCoE adoption
Also on the adoption-trends front, I had a pretty interesting conversation over lunch Tuesday with Bill Marozas, senior manager of business development and partner management in the data center unit for Cisco. We were talking about how the economic downturn might affect adoption for FCoE, because financial services firms were seen as the most likely early adopters and that sector is struggling. Marozas said this would probably impact adoption, but that many companies are already “planning for the upturn.”
The problem, I said, is that any upturn in our economy will probably involve fundamental changes to who and what drives it – we might see overall economic revitalization, but in sectors like Web 2.0 rather than financial services. I don’t think financial services will return to where they were earlier this decade at all, after the consolidation or collapse of so many firms in the last year.
The most likely place for FCoE to find a home given the state of the financial services industry is probably in either the healthcare or energy sector, both of which are undergoing massive digitization efforts right now.
But after the economy, there are also plenty of questions to be answered about the technology. It needs to be more clearly explained, for example, exactly how Cisco’s MDS FC director switches — which Marozas said will remain available even as Cisco pushes its Nexus switches into the market — fit into the FCoE picture. And if you’re keeping your FC director while adding new top-of-rack switches for FCoE, where do the infrastructure savings and consolidation come from? Stay tuned for more follow-up here.
Attendance down, economy to blame
According to CEO Joe Tucci’s keynote, there were 9,000 total attendees – including EMC staff, partners, press and analysts as well as end users – at EMC World 2008. This year EMC claimed more than 7,000 attendees. A decline, to be sure, and I spoke with several users prior to the show who had attended in previous years but were sitting this one out because of travel budget restrictions. However, the show seemed livelier and much bigger than Storage Networking World, also held in Orlando last month. The fact that the show still went on was a victory in the current climate; competitors NetApp and Symantec both called off their user conferences earlier this year.
Complete EMC World 2009 coverage.]]>