Storage Soup

September 18, 2017  3:00 PM

Dell EMC storage gets new boss

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Of all the EMC executives who left the company since the Dell acquisition, the departure of David Goulden will have the greatest impact on the Dell EMC storage business.

Dell dropped the news that Goulden will depart at the end of 2017 last Friday in a news release.

Long-time EMC CEO Joe Tucci stepped aside when the $60-billion merger completed a year ago, but Tucci was already headed towards retirement and Michael Dell absorbed the EMC CEO duties. Goulden served as CEO of the EMC division that included its core storage products, and he led the Dell EMC group after the merger. He gave the multi-billion dollar storage business continuity in the transition from EMC to Dell EMC.

Goulden has close ties to Tucci, going back to their days together at Wang Global in the 1990s. Goulden joined EMC in 2002, and held positions in sales, marketing a new business development as well as serving as CFO, president and finally CEO of the Information Infrastructure group. That made him instrumental in the transition period. The big question now is whether that transition period is over.

The move and the timing of Goulden’s departure should not be a big surprise. It’s common for top executives to stick around for a year or so after a big acquisition, and then move on. Goulden was a candidate to replace Tucci as EMC CEO before the Dell deal came about, and he likely will pursue a CEO post at another ccompany.

But what does this mean to the Dell EMC storage business? Goulden was among a group of key EMC executives that Dell kept on to run the enterprise group after the merger. Others included CMO Jeremy Burton, head of IT services Howard Elias and sales chief Bill Scannell. They all remain at Dell but none of them will replace Goulden. Jeff Clarke, who runs Dell’s Client Solutions (PCs) business, will take over the Dell EMC Infrastructure Group. That gives Clarke immense power inside of Dell and also puts the core Dell EMC storage business in the hands of an executive without a great deal of storage experience.

Friday’s press release quoted Michael Dell and Goulden saying the merger is going well and the time is right for a change.

“The transition of EMC into Dell EMC is complete and we’re executing in the market with great momentum,” was part of Goulden’s quote.

But is that the case? On Dell’s quarterly earnings call two weeks ago, Goulden and Dell CFO Tom Sweet talked a lot about how areas of the Dell EMC storage business need improvement. Goulden identified weakness in the midrange storage business and outlined “robust plans” to remedy sales.

Sweet added: “While the integration has gone relatively smoothly in many areas, we recognize that we still have work to do to drive profitability higher and improve velocity in our storage business.”

Dell is by far the overall networked storage revenue leader, according to market research firm IDC. In the 2017 second quarter figures IDC released last week, Dell had $1.5 billion in revenue – more than twice that of second-place NetApp. But Dell’s revenue declined a whopping 22.3% from the previous year while NetApp increased 16.7% and the total market slipped 5.4%. The combined market share of Dell and EMC fell from 34.6% in the second quarter of 2016 to 28.4% a year later.

Goulden blames some of the Dell EMC storage share declines on the change in the quarterly calendar after the transition from EMC to Dell, but it’s hard to attribute all of that 22.3% drop to the calendar. And his comments during the last earnings call shows other problems exist.

The good news for Dell EMC storage  is it leads in all-flash market share, and that market grew 37.6% to $1.4 billion last quarter according to IDC. It is also making a strong push to become the leader in hyper-convergence with its VxRail appliances powered by Dell-owned VMware’s vSAN software. But with the latest change at the top of Dell EMC, who knows what the company’s storage portfolio will look like a year from now.

September 18, 2017  7:21 AM

Nasuni cloud NAS helps score $38 million in funding

Carol Sliwa Carol Sliwa Profile: Carol Sliwa

Cloud-based file service provider Nasuni last week closed on $38 million in funding to boost its expansion plans in research and development and its channel and go-to-market efforts.

The Goldman Sachs Growth Equity-led financing boosted Nasuni’s total to about $120 million since the company incorporated in 2009. The Nasuni cloud storage momentum should help the vendor become cash flow positive by the end of 2018 and profitable by the end of 2019, according to the company’s president Paul, Flanagan.

“We’ve got a great opportunity as enterprises are thinking about moving their unstructured data and taking advantage of not only cloud economics but cloud collaboration,” said Flanagan, who joined Boston-based Nasuni in April.

Flanagan has been a Nasuni board member and investor since 2009 through his work at Sigma Partners and Sigma Prime Ventures, and he helped to build and scale two Boston-area startups, VistaPrint and Storage Networks.

Nasuni cloud storage software ties to Amazon, Azure

Nasuni was an early cloud gateway startup with a virtual appliance designed to cache active data on premises and store less frequently accessed files in the object storage of public clouds such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. The Nasuni cloud-native UniFS global file system provides a single namespace to manage the unstructured data. The company also sells physical appliances bundled with its software.

Tom Rose, Nasuni’s chief marketing officer, estimated that customers now keep about 70% of their data in public clouds and 30% on premises in private clouds. He said the increase in private-cloud use reflects Nasuni’s growing partnerships with Dell EMC, with its Elastic Cloud Storage, and IBM, with its Cloud Object Storage (formerly Cleversafe).

The average annual contract for a Nasuni cloud storage software subscription is now $100,000, three times more than it was two years ago, according to Rose. He said customers tend to ask for 20% more capacity when they renew subscriptions, reflecting the increase in unstructured data as well as the use of Nasuni cloud storage for additional workloads.

Flanagan said Nasuni’s revenue has grown between 80% and 90% during each of the last four years. He said the company has about 350 customers ranging from the small- to mid-sized businesses that were the company’s original focus to large enterprises that deploy hundreds of terabytes to more than a petabyte.

“We give enterprises the ability to move all that unstructured data to the cloud and be able to get cost savings by not having to do backup anymore, business continuity. They don’t have to get additional providers for that,” said Flanagan. “And on top of that, we allow these enterprises to collaborate on that data around the world in ways they weren’t able to do previously.”

He said Nasuni’s primary competitors remain NetApp’s and Dell EMC’s Isilon traditional file storage, and the company only infrequently runs up against startups.

Latest Nasuni storage financing round

Flanagan said Nasuni’s Dec. 2016 $25 million financing round gave the company enough cash to operate through June 2018. The executive team didn’t expect to seek additional funds until later this year or the first quarter of 2018. But he said, in the ordinary course of “teeing up” investors for the future, Goldman Sachs’ David Campbell said, “Why wait?” Campbell formerly worked in Goldman Sachs’ IT organization managing storage infrastructure, according to Flanagan.

“Anytime you can get an investor like Goldman Sachs and particularly a guy like David Campbell, who understands what we do, on our board, it was a great move for us,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan said the money would allow Nasuni to explore additional opportunities to grow and expand, whether through aligned partnerships or business development deals with technology or cloud partners. He said the cash would also help to finance “a long funnel of projects” from an engineering standpoint.

Rose said customers can expect to see new capabilities for the Nasuni cloud storage portfolio, including support for more clouds. He said Nasuni moved this year into larger new headquarters in Boston for additional space to expand and grow.

September 14, 2017  11:08 AM

Toshiba memory business sale points to Bain-led consortium

Carol Sliwa Carol Sliwa Profile: Carol Sliwa
NAND Flash, western digital

The Toshiba memory business could be sold to a Bain Capital-led consortium that reportedly includes Apple, Dell Technologies and Seagate if the parties can strike a deal that passes legal muster over the objections of flash partner Western Digital.

Toshiba’s Board of Directors voted on Wednesday to sign a memorandum of understanding with Bain Capital after receiving a new proposal from the consortium. Toshiba claimed it would try to reach a definitive agreement with the Bain-led group by month’s end, but the company also noted the memorandum is non-binding, leaving the door open for other bidders.

Toshiba has been trying to sell its profitable memory business to cover enormous losses associated with its struggling U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric nuclear power division. Bids are reportedly in the range of $18 billion to $20 billion.

In addition to the Bain-led consortium and a Western Digital-backed group, Toshiba confirmed that a group led by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., also known as Foxconn, a Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer, has been in the running.

Toshiba said the Bain-led consortium includes the Innovation Networking Corp. of Japan and Development Bank of Japan. But the Wall Street Journal reported the group seeking to buy the Toshiba memory business also includes Apple, Dell, Seagate and Korean chipmaker SK Hynix.

The involvement of Dell and Seagate would throw two prominent storage vendors into the mix of companies seeking a share of Toshiba’s coveted memory business. Seagate is Western Digital’s main hard disk drive (HDD) competitor, but has lagged in sales of faster NAND flash memory-based solid-state drives (SSDs). Unlike some of the leading SSD manufacturers, Seagate has had no stake in a semiconductor fab that produces NAND flash chips. Seagate declined to comment on the Toshiba memory business.

Western Digital also bidding for Toshiba memory business

Western Digital, which became a joint venture partner in the Toshiba memory business through its 2016 acquisition of SanDisk, is also part of a consortium with a bid to acquire the Toshiba memory business.

Through a prepared statement, Western Digital expressed its disappointment that Toshiba signed the memorandum with the Bain-led consortium despite its “tireless efforts to reach a resolution that is in the best interests of all stakeholders.”

Western Digital claimed it has been “flexible” and “constructive” and submitted numerous proposals to address Toshiba’s concerns, and noted “multiple courts have ruled in favor of protecting SanDisk’s contractual rights.”

San Jose, California-based Western Digital has pursued legal action through the California court system, claiming the sale of the Toshiba memory business cannot take place without SanDisk’s consent. The company sought injunctive relief after Toshiba announced in June that the Bain-led group was the preferred bidder and it planned to strike an agreement by June 28.

Just prior to a July court hearing, Toshiba and Western Digital worked out an agreement that was approved by a San Francisco Superior Court judge. The court order requires Toshiba to publicly announce within 24 hours any agreement that “contemplates a closing” to sell its share of the flash memory joint ventures and give SanDisk two weeks’ written notice before any closing occurs.

In August, the court granted SanDisk’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop Toshiba from prohibiting SanDisk affiliates from accessing shared databases and refusing to ship certain engineering wafers and samples to ensure continuing operation of their NAND flash joint ventures. Toshiba is appealing the order.

Western Digital sought injunctive relief through the San Francisco Superior Court while its arbitration requests remain pending with the International Court of Arbitration, a Paris-based institution operated by the International Chamber of Commerce. The company is seeking to undo Toshiba’s April 1 transfer of its NAND flash memory joint venture interests to the Toshiba Memory Corp. subsidiary and prevent any subsequent sale without SanDisk’s consent.

September 14, 2017  6:20 AM

Dell EMC Isilon helps preserve tennis history

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo
Dell EMC, Isilon, NAS

At the U.S. Open tennis tournament last week, Rafael Nadal solidified his Hall of Fame credentials and Sloane Stephens became a hall of fame candidate. And the International Tennis Hall of Fame gained more artifacts to add to the thousands it is already beginning to digitize.

The ITHF in Newport, Rhode Island is months into a digitization project that will categorize and make searchable more than 25,000 historic tennis items. The hall uses Dell EMC Isilon NAS array and Piction digital asset management software as its primary tech tools for the digitization project.

Dell Technologies donated the Dell EMC Isilon storage as part of a partnership it forged with the Hall of Fame in late 2016. The partnership also included Dell sponsoring the Hall of Fame Open tournament in Newport for five years.

Doug Stark, the ITHF museum director, said his organization decided to go digital to better manage its historic items.

“First, we want to digitize all of our collection so we know everything we have and it’s well organized,” Stark said. “The second part is, we want people around the world to be able to access this. One of the ways might be going to our web site and being able to type in and search everything on Arthur Ashe, or everything we have on the U.S. Open or any Hall of Famer.

“We also want to take the digitized assets and incorporate them into social media and produce some videos. Getting it organized is the key to getting it out to the world.”

Stark estimated it could take five to 10 years just digitizing the Hall of Fame’s current assets on the Dell EMC Isilon array, and new materials constantly come in. “We will prioritize what should be digitized and how to roll this out to the public,” he said.

The museum artifacts run the gamut from a Roger Federer hologram to more than 1,100 rackets, 250 scrapbooks of tennis greats, 3,500 video and audio recordings, 600 pieces of tennis art and a 5,000-plus book library. The museum was established in 1881 and Newport hosted the U.S. Nationals tournament – the forerunner of the U.S. Open – from 1881 through 1914. The Hall of Fame began inducting retired greats in 1955.

But Stark said space constraints and sheer volume of its inventory mean the museum could display less than 10% of its artifacts. The digitization project will greatly increase that total.

“The Hall of Fame’s mission is to preserve and promote the history of tennis,” Stark said. “[Dell EMC Isilon storage] helps us to preserve that. Now that we know how to use that, we can start to promote the history of tennis using digitization as a tool.”

September 13, 2017  6:50 AM

Spectra Logic BlackPearl NAS disk appliance launches

Garry Kranz Garry Kranz Profile: Garry Kranz
BlackPearl, Spectra Logic

Spectra Logic has added a midrange BlackPearl NAS disk appliance to augment its tape-based object storage.

Spectra Logic launched the object-based BlackPearl line as a linear tape file system gateway in 2013, integrating a RESTful interface modeled after Amazon Simple Storage Services (S3). The disk appliance released Tuesday is branded as Spectra Logic BlackPearl Network Attached Storage (NAS). It exports file and object interfaces.

The Spectra Logic BlackPearl NAS archive can be configured as a converged system to replicate inactive primary data to multiple targets, including the cloud, a backup BlackPearl disk appliance and Spectra tape libraries.

“Customers with a file domain work flow can start out with a Black Pearl (NAS) and upgrade over time to a full object or converged storage platform,” Spectra Logic CTO Matt Starr said.

The Spectra Logic BlackPearl NAS caters mostly to media and entertainment companies that run a file domain workflow. Spectra Logic integrated the code base of its Verde NAS product, notably its Network File Interface (NFI) application to transparently move file data to back-end object storage.

When set up as a mount point, NFI takes a snapshot of the file system and sends only deltas to an object interface or cloud bucket. Customers can retrieve the data locally using the Spectra Logic Eon browser.

“It’s the same BlackPearl hardware, but we’re pulling in more of the Verde functionality to make a more feature-rich product,” Starr said. “This system takes lesser changing data and pushes it to BlackPearl NAS, and then allows NFI to make copies” to backup targets, he noted.

Spectra Logic BlackPearl NAS

This diagram illustrates how the Spectra Logic BlackPearl Network Attached Storage media appliance works.

An entry-level BlackPearl NAS disk appliance is a 2U rack that takes two expansion chassis. List price is $14,200 for a 2U, eight-drive building block.

The densest configuration is a 4U product that scales to 7.1 PB. It scales to nine expansion chassis and 40U. The 4U master node houses 8 TB archive hard drives.

Starr said Spectra Logic BlackPearl NAS capacity can extend to hundreds of petabytes when used in conjunction with back-end tape storage.

September 7, 2017  10:18 PM

Tintri revenue misses target, but earnings are a surprise

Garry Kranz Garry Kranz Profile: Garry Kranz

Private enterprise cloud specialist Tintri Inc. on Thursday posted mixed financial results in its first earnings call since going public in June. The bottom line: lackluster Tintri revenue was somewhat salvaged by beating the Wall Street consensus on losses on earnings per share.

Tintri recorded a net loss of $51.7 million on revenue of $34.9 million, about 2% lower than Tintri’s revenue guidance of $35.7 million. Shares of Tintri tumbled nearly 2% on the news to close at $6.68.

Despite the revenue miss, earnings per share loss came in at 91 cents, beating loss estimates by two cents. As a percentage of revenue, Tintri’s free cash flow of $23.9 million fell to 68%, down from 79% a year ago. Gross margin, while healthy at 60.1%, fell 5 points.

Tintri launched its hybrid VMstore arrays in 2011 as storage for VMware shops. The vendor added all-flash VMstore models in 2015. It expanded its offerings this week with the introduction of the EC 6000 series all-flash nodes.

Tintri markets its arrays to hyper-scale data centers to build private enterprise cloud storage. Tintri Connect virtualization allows web services to be assembled rapidly and connected to a public host.

Tintri: IPO issues were a ‘distraction’ that stymied sales

CEO Ken Klein blamed the disappointing Tintri revenue on “distraction, disruption and sales attrition” that accompanied its initial public offering in June. Klein said part of it centered on the recent departure of chief sales officer Mike McGuire, whom Tintri lured from Dell in 2015.

In an Aug. 18 securities filing, Tintri said McGuire has ceased to serve in that role, but he was expected to assist Tintri executives in finding his successor. Tintri did not give a reason for McGuire’s departure. Prior to Tintri, McGuire was vice president of global sales at Dell and chief commercial officer at Nexsan Inc.

With McGuire out, Klein said sales efforts have been divided into international and North American sales regions, with “increased focus on training, retention and enablement.” Tintri executives declined to specify the size of the sales force or whether it planned to expand sales teams.

“We remain focused on maintaining cash generation and (achieving) profitability,” Klein said.

Tintri is a long way from profitability. It is trying to shed its identify as a flash array vendor, recasting itself as a scalable platform for integrating local web services that can connect to a public host.  But  Tintri faces competition from other erstwhile storage vendors in the private enterprise cloud market, a dynamic leading to rapid commoditization and shrinking margins for data storage gear.

According to its shelf registration with the SEC, Tintri revenue grew 150% from 2015 to 2017. Those gains were nearly all offset by corresponding mounting losses, which jumped 35% from $70 million to $106 million. Tintri also said it has an accumulated deficit of nearly $340 million.

After initially filing to raise $109 million, Tintri revised its forecast downward, eventually netting about $60 million. The IPO popped in June following a one-day postponement, but its share price never approached Tintri’s original target of $11. Shares were priced at $7, and have ranged from a high of $7.75 to a low of $5.12.

Klein said Tintri had added approximately 90 private enterprise cloud customers during the quarter, giving it more than 1,400 customers, including 21 Fortune 100 companies.  Listed among the new customers are Bechtel Corp., The Salvation Army and Volkswagen.

Klein noted a “cautious approach” to future Tintri revenue guidance. For the fourth quarter, Tintri estimates a non-GAAP loss per share ranging from 77 cents to 81 cents on revenues of $36 million to $37 million. The company said it would not provide guidance beyond the fourth quarter.

September 7, 2017  10:35 AM

Dell EMC storage sags in the middle

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

What do you do when storage sales slow down? If you’re Dell EMC, you add velocity to the sales process.

“Storage velocity” was a frequently used term during Dell’s earnings call this morning. On the one-year anniversary of the closing of the $60-billion-plus merger, Dell EMC executives said they were happy with most parts of the business but are looking to juke storage sales over the next few quarters.

Dell EMC storage products are part of Dell’s Infrastructure Solutions Group, which also includes servers and networking. ISG reported $7.4 billion in revenue last quarter, split evenly between storage and servers/networking. But while $3.7 billion in revenue represented a 16% increase for servers/networking, the identical $3.7 billion in Dell EMC storage showed a one percent decline from the previous quarter.

“We’ve got some work to do in storage, to be blunt,” Dell CFO Tom Sweet said. “Our goal is to get the velocity back in the business.”

ISG president David Goulden identified three major growth areas in the storage industry: all-flash, hyper-converged and midrange arrays. He said Dell EMC did well in the first two, and will increase investments in its sales and channel programs to beef up midrange sales.

Goulden, CEO of EMC’s infrastructure group before the Dell merger, said Dell EMC is growing more than twice as fast as its nearest competitor in all-flash. He also said the vendor’s hyper-converged product revenue more than doubled from last year, with VxRail appliances racking up 2,000 customers and 14,000 nodes deployed since its March 2016 launch.

Goulden said new Isilon scale-out NAS and integrated backup appliances are also growing fast, and Dell EMC is doing well in high-end SANs with all-flash VMAX arrays. But he wants improvement in the midrange. Dell EMC’s main midrange SAN producs are the Unity and VNX platforms, and Compellent arrays also fall there.

“The biggest storage trend is a shift of market mix towards midrange storage systems,” he said. “The high end of the market – priced over $500,000 — is declining and has been declining in mid-teens percentage. Growth in the market is the midrange. That’s where we have more work to do.”

Goulden said Dell EMC will add hundreds of storage sales specialists and modify its sales quotas and incentives to “better capture storage opportunities.” He also promised more Dell EMC storage launches this year.

Goulden said Dell EMC storage orders were slightly up in the quarter, but revenue failed to reflect that because of product backlog and a move to flexible and utility pricing models that defer payment. He said Dell EMC storage market share will also be negatively affected by a change in the reporting calendar from EMC’s calendar. He blamed share losses last quarter on the calendar change, and said it would continue to play a role for the rest of 2017.

Dell EMC storage, backup servers, and related professional services should all benefit from a multi-year with GE. Goulden said the contract, disclosed today, makes Dell EMC GE’s primary IT infrastructure provider.

September 7, 2017  6:14 AM

Tintri Enterprise Cloud Series federates 64 flash nodes

Garry Kranz Garry Kranz Profile: Garry Kranz

Flash vendor Tintri in July expanded storage clustering to enable customers to build a massively scalable private enterprise cloud. On Tuesday, the Tintri enterprise cloud strategy added another plank: new all-flash arrays designed as targets for its virtualization software.

The Tintri Enterprise Cloud EC 6000 Series models supplant VMStore arrays as the vendor’s new flagship platform. The product allows an enterprise to manage 64 nodes as a federated storage pool in Tintri Global Center.

The vendor claims a single EC Series 64-node flash cluster potentially delivers 8 PB of usable storage and more than 20 million IOPS on 8K block sizes. Users are able to manage 480,000 virtual machines on the same platform.

Four models of EC 6000 arrays are available. The high-capacity EC6090 scales between 76 TB and 645 TB of effective capacity with inline data reduction. The midrange EC6070 and EC6050 scale to 322 TB, while the low-end EC6030 tops out at 81 TB.

“We will be able to serve a single small department within an organization, all the way to building a massive cloud,” said Dhiraj Sehgal, Tintri’s director of product marketing.

The 2U EC Series models ship with 8 TB 3D NAND SSDs. Tintri said the capacity to expand capacity on a drive-by-drive basis is on its product roadmap. That feature will allow users to take advantage of Tintri’s enterprise cloud analytics for sizing compute and storage.

Like other storage vendors, Tintri has been trying to reposition itself as a cloud service platform. The software hooks added in July let users tie their on-premises VMstore arrays to multiple public clouds.

The EC Series arrays hit the market as Tintri prepares to deliver its first earnings report on Thursday since going public in June.  Dates of first earnings typically are a bellwether for new entrants in the public market.

Tintri had high hopes for its initial public offering, setting a target price of $11 a share and forecasting proceeds of $109 million.  In reality, it netted $60 million as investors show tepid interest in tech stocks. Shares in Tintri have ranged a high of$7.75 to a low of $5.12.

September 6, 2017  2:09 PM

HPE storage more Nimble after $1.2 billion buy

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo
3PAR, Nimble Storage

HPE storage sales received a boost last quarter from its $1.2 bilion Nimble Storage acquisition.

HPE did not break out its total storage revenue by product, or even give a total amount except to say HPE storage revenue grew 11% over last year on the strength of the Nimble systems. But HPE had no revenue from Nimble last year, so the comparison isn’t exactly fair. It’s unlikely that HPE storage grew organically compared to its 2016 portfolio. Revenue from 3PAR arrays – its top selling storage platform — declined nine percent year-over-year. HPE CEO Meg Whitman attributed the decline to “a more competitive market in the U.S.”

HPE’s all-flash revenue grew 30% year-over-year, again benefiting from Nimble flash arrays that were not part of HPE a year ago. All-flash revenue increased six percent organically over HPE’s 2016 platforms, a modest gain compared to competitors’ year-over-year all-flash increases.

Nimble at least gives HPE storage prospects a reason for optimism. Whitman said Nimble Storage exceeded revenue and profit plans for the quarter. She pointed to Nimble and 3PAR as a one-two HPE storage punch that the vendor has lacked. Nimble mostly sells into midrange shops while 3PAR meets the high-end of the midrange and low end of the enterprise. 3PAR has been the vendor’s flagship storage platform since its $2.35 billion acquisition in 2010.

“We are excited now about our storage portfolio,” Whitman said. “3PAR plus Nimble, we get incremental scale, we get InfoSight, which is AI for the datacenter, and I think one plus one here is going to equal more than two. We’re really pleased.”

Whitman teased HPE’s plans to extend Nimble’s predictive analytics across the storage portfolio.

“We are incorporating Nimble’s InfoSight predictive analytics technology that uses machine learning to predict and resolve performance issues across our storage portfolio,” she said as an example of how HPE is embracing artificial intelligence.

Whitman plans to collapse the HPE storage platforms. She said HPE will combine the Nimble and 3PAR research and development teams as well as sales teams. The goal is to go after customers moving to flash storage.

“The all-flash segment in the market is growing,” she said. “And you will recall that only about 10 percent of datacenters have moved to all-flash. So there is a lot of running room there and we are a leader in that marketplace and we aim to continue that trend.”

Whitman said HPE is also starting to see results of its $650 million acquisition of hyper-converged pioneer Simplivity in January. She hyper-converged infrastructure revenue tripled over 2016, although admittedly HPE’s HCI revenue was “a small base” a year ago.

“Hyper-converged is core to our strategy of making hybrid IT simple for our customers,” Whitman said. “Simplivity has made a difference.”

September 6, 2017  1:40 PM

BackupAssist CryptoSafeGuard aids ransomware backup strategy

Sonia Lelii Sonia Lelii Profile: Sonia Lelii

Windows data protection specialist BackupAssist is the latest vendor to provide a capability that helps combat ransomware.

The Australia-based company recently launched CryptoSafeGuard, part of its BackupAssist data protection software for SMBs. The application includes CryptoSafeGuard Detector and CryptoSafeGuard Protector for the ransomware backup strategy.

The technology works with existing anti-malware software.

“We are an added layer to anti-malware,” said Linus Chang, CEO of BackupAssist. “We don’t replace it. We complement it. This protects the on-premises backup. We inspect data and file names and see the changes from ransomware attacks. After we detect something, we go in lockdown mode and preserve the clean backup. Then we alert the administrator.”

Ransomware is malware that keeps customers’ data hostage for an extortion fee. It is among the greatest security threats to businesses and backup has been a key ransomware protection tool. But the viruses are adapting to traditional backup processes.

CryptoSafeGuard scans and detects suspicious activity in source files that can be related to ransomware and then sends alerts via a text message or email and blocks backup jobs from continue to run. All backup jobs are blocked until the alert has been resolved as part of the ransomware backup strategy.

The CryptoSafeGuard Protector layer switches on when the backup job starts to run. It operates on the driver level to monitor existing backups and prevents suspicious processes from infecting the backups. This allows only BackupAssist to create, delete or update data in backups. The CryptoSafeGuard Detector does a “hierarchical threat scan” when a backup job begins to ensure the backed up data is clean, and blocks backup jobs if an infection is detected. This prevents the infection from spreading to backup data.

The new function is available with BackupAssist 10.1 for local file systems and basic partitioned volumes in Microsoft Hyper-V environments. Dynamic partitioned volumes, such as striping and spanning, are not scanned. Neither is Microsoft SQL Server.

‘Reliable way to get back to a known good copy’

Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research, Inc., said BackupAssist is using snapshot technology to roll back to a good backup copy as part of the vendor’s ransomware backup strategy.

“Except in rare cases, there is no true recovery from ransomware,” Osterman said. “This is a very reliable way to get back to a known good copy. This is a second-best way to protect against ransomware. The primary way is to prevent it in the first place.

Chang said some of the ransomware attacks in Australia have targeted the servers and the backup software on the systems. Also, small businesses have been hit with ransomware attacks. Just several months ago, a small automotive company had to pay $8,000 to get its data back because its backups were destroyed. Another small company was hit via its cloud-file sharing Dropbox software and that affected other people connected to the file-sharing application.

“One of his clients received a doggie email,” Chang said. “They clicked on the email and it infected their computer. He was coaching eight different businesses and everyone else got corrupted.”

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