Storage Channel Pipeline

February 6, 2011  5:42 PM

Hybrid cloud storage is a natural play for VARs

Eric Slack Eric Slack Profile: Eric Slack

Jacob Gsoedl’s Storage magazine article on hybrid cloud storage does a great job explaining the state of cloud storage and where hybrid solutions fit in. I agree with his analysis and would add one more point: Hybrid cloud storage systems are a good fit for storage VARs.


VARs are always on the lookout for new products to sell. With Dell’s, HP’s and EMC’s appetites for acquisitions, the chances of an independent VAR losing one of their primary vendors almost every year is pretty good. While acquisition doesn’t mean an existing VAR has to stop selling a vendor’s product, it does often take the fun out of it — especially if you think “fun” is related to things like acceptable margins, a controlled number of VARs in a given geographic area and real attention from the vendor field people when you’re a smaller VAR. Hybrid cloud solutions offer a number of factors that make them an exciting product for storage VARs to consider: Continued »

January 31, 2011  1:00 PM

Block-based storage system options for medium-sized enterprises (MSEs)

Eric Slack Eric Slack Profile: Eric Slack

There are a lot of truly innovative storage technologies available today, many of which I’ve written about in this blog. These include scale-out and scale-up systems, storage appliances that are application-aware, and hybrid cloud solutions that run on existing hardware or as a VM, just to name a few. These are typically appealing to VARs especially, since they offer some compelling value propositions. But what about customers who want a traditional block-based storage system? Continued »

January 24, 2011  11:07 AM

How to compare SSDs with one another

Eric Slack Eric Slack Profile: Eric Slack

As solid-state drives (SSDs) come down in price, more users are considering them to upgrade storage system performance, improve storage density and reduce power consumption. Although manufactured in hard disk drive (HDD) form-factor packages that plug into existing disk arrays, SSDs have little in common with mechanical spinning disk drives. This makes the process to compare SSDs different from that used with HDDs. Continued »

January 10, 2011  10:39 AM

Noteworthy channel solutions of 2010, Part 2

Eric Slack Eric Slack Profile: Eric Slack

At Storage Switzerland we get technology briefings almost every day, and sometimes twice a day, which adds up to a lot of new products over the course of the year. In last week’s blog, I listed five of the more interesting new products that we saw in 2010. Below is a continuation of that list, all channel products. Continued »

January 2, 2011  10:08 PM

Noteworthy storage channel solutions of 2010

Eric Slack Eric Slack Profile: Eric Slack

I’m going to start the new year out with a listing of some of the technologies and products that I thought were interesting and significant in 2010. Some of these companies and products made their debuts last year, while some came out earlier but became bigger players in their particular segments of the storage space in 2010. All of these products sell through the channel. We’ll continue this list next week as well.


StorSimple manufactures a hybrid cloud storage solution that integrates into the local storage environment as an iSCSI device, with SAS and SSD capacity. On the back end, this gateway appliance connects to cloud storage (public or private), enabling simple off-site movement of data for backup, DR and primary storage capacity. StorSimple has built intelligence into the unit to effectively prioritize data blocks and efficiently move data between tiers of storage on the appliance and to the cloud. Continued »

December 20, 2010  9:09 PM

Primary storage data reduction: Combine compression and deduplication

Eric Slack Eric Slack Profile: Eric Slack

Data reduction is one of those “compass point” activities, meaning that it’s fundamental to so many other storage processes that it has become an objective in and of itself. Data compression was an early data reduction technology, one that evolved into a standard process for most storage components. Deduplication is now in a similar position as it’s evolved from a technology enabling cost-effective disk backup into another fundamental data reduction process, one that’s getting integrated into more and more storage components. With deduplication moving further up the stack to primary storage, it’s being included in storage systems that also have compression. This has prompted the questions of which technology is better for primary storage and whether they can be used in conjunction with each other. Continued »

December 13, 2010  10:48 AM

Sane data migration strategy: You don’t see this every day

Eric Slack Eric Slack Profile: Eric Slack

Implementation is the killer — just ask any IT manager. Getting a new or upgraded system up and running with all the hardware, applications and users it needs to support is really the heavy lifting in our business. And thank heaven, if this part was easy there would be no margin in the integrator business — and maybe no integrators. But that doesn’t mean VARs are all a bunch of masochists who like things to be difficult. On the contrary, products that go in and work as advertised, without a week or two of brain damage to your professional services team, are the ones that everyone likes. Essentially, products that provide a simple upgrade path get upgraded and products that incorporate a workable data migration strategy get sold.


Successful vendors know this and take pains to develop these tools. The reference data and archive space is a great example. When an organization is unhappy with its existing archive solution but is faced with how to move hundreds of terabytes or petabytes of files from one platform to another, they may just grin and bear it. Continued »

December 6, 2010  11:00 AM

Keep it simple, like Apple

Eric Slack Eric Slack Profile: Eric Slack

A few years ago, I did an informal study at a storage company where I worked. We were launching a new product and were essentially trying to come up with some new ways to approach the market. The iPhone had just come out and the CEO suggested we look at Apple to see if we could get some ideas from their success. Aside from their products and features, we studied their marketing, packaging and product support, and we had discussions with the people in our company who used Mac computers. In those days, Apple hadn’t made the inroads it has today into corporate use, and we were stunned to see the number of Mac users and the cross section they came from in the company. The CTO, several key developers, the graphics staff and a good number of people from other departments used Macs.
A couple of discoveries came out of these meetings. Continued »

November 22, 2010  10:50 AM

‘Converged storage’: Primary storage, data backup in one box

Eric Slack Eric Slack Profile: Eric Slack

Data protection is like insurance; it’s something you need and something you do but something you probably won’t use — at least, not very often. Obviously, this is more true when using a DR system to recover an entire data center than when restoring a single file from last night’s backup, but you get the idea. Data backup is an overhead process that doesn’t create any revenue and probably doesn’t represent a real competitive advantage. Essentially, it’s a cost to be minimized. Continued »

November 15, 2010  11:52 AM

Hybrid cloud storage one of ‘top 10 list’ items

Eric Slack Eric Slack Profile: Eric Slack

Storage Switzerland recorded a webinar last week, in which we did a “top 10 list” treatment of some common questions about cloud storage. I’d like to drill into a couple of those to make a point about cloud storage and the expectations around its use. One of the questions was about connectivity, or what the options were for connecting storage to the cloud and how they compare.


Talk about connection gets into an area the public utilities industry calls “the last mile”: physically getting users connected to the public infrastructure. In cloud storage this doesn’t mean how to connect to the Internet; it means the ways in which local storage systems, or even application servers, interface with the storage that’s in the cloud. It also deals with how intelligently they transfer data. No cloud storage solution will be able to move data in the brute-force fashion that it’s done on the LAN. At the end of the day there’s really no way around the bandwidth problem. Like the old expression, the key is to work smarter, not just harder. One approach is a hybrid cloud storage system, a platform that provides fast on-site storage (including SSD) with an active, real-time connection to the cloud’s unlimited capacity. But in order for these systems to work smart, they need intelligence about the data they’re storing. Continued »

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