Storage Soup

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.”

September 6, 2017  7:32 AM

Elastifile grabs $16M to stretch sales staff

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Startup Elastifile, which sells a distributed file system that spans flash and cloud storage tiers, picked up $16 million in funding today. The startup also gained a new strategic investor in Western Digital.

Western Digital led the round, which Elastifile CEO and founder Amir Aharoni calls an extension of the B round the startup closed in mid-2016. Elastifile now has more than $65 million in total funding.

Elastifile Cloud File System (ECFS) runs on-premises on flash storage, and uses its CloudConnect feature to store and manage data on public clouds.

Aharoni describles ECFS as a “cross-cloud data fabric.” The goal is to run hot data on flash and colder data in the cloud.

“We don’t believe everybody will move 100 percent into the public cloud, but they want those public clouds to be an agile extension of their IT infrastructure,” Aharoni said. “Managing enterprise data in such environments is a complex task. You have to mobilize the data, and make sure it is available on premises and in the cloud. Our core value is to take data from silos and share it.”

Although venture firms CE Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Battery Ventures have invested in Elastifile, it has strongly courted strategic investors. Dell (through EMC), Cisco and Lenovo are among early investors. EMC – before the Dell merger – took part in Elastifile’s first funding round in 2014. Elastifile founder and CTO Shahar Frank also founded all-flash array startup XtremIO, which EMC acquired in 2012.

“EMC believed in our vision from the early days,” Aharoni said.

He pointed out that Western Digital has been an active investor and acquirer of storage companies, particularly in the flash market.

Aharoni said Elastifile will use the funding mostly to bulk up its sales team. The vendor has about 40 customers and Aharoni said the funding will help it grow headcount from 85 to around 100.

Elastifile sells its software through subscriptions, but also has server vendor partners who resell it and channel partners who bundle it on appliances.

“We need to do two things now,” Aharoni said. “First we have to build our sales organization beyond the early deals we have done. The majority of investment will go towards go-to-market and channel sales. And then we also still have a lot to do on the research and development side on our product.”

Elastifile has headquarters in Israel with its sales team based in Santa Clara, California.

September 5, 2017  7:40 AM

Nutanix revenue jumps as competition grows

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Hyper-converged pioneer Nutanix grew revenue 72% in its first year as a public company.

Nutanix revenue grew to $767 million during a span in which competition intensified. Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Cisco increased their investment in hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) appliances, and VMware’s vSAN hyper-converged software matured and sales spiked.

Nutanix, which completed its initial public offering Sept. 30, 2016, reported its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings last week. Nutanix revenue of $226.1 million for the quarter represented a 62% increase over the same quarter last year.

As the Nutanix revenue increases, the competition keeps getting fiercer. Cisco last month acquired its HCI software partner Springpath to give it greater control over development of its HyperFlex appliance. NetApp HCI is due to launch by year’s end, and Lenovo last week launched a new vSAN-powered branded HCI appliance (Lenovo also sells appliances with Nutanix software).

Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey said hardware vendors can only go so far in taking hyper-convergence to the next step: hybrid cloud.

“I think [Cisco] and HPE and NetApp are still playing a hardware game in HCI,” he said on the Nutanix earnings call. “I think the real game that’s being played is in pure software, about the entire opening system itself.”

Pandey maintains hyper-convergence is a stepping stone towards building enterprise clouds. He also claims Nutanix’s Acropolis services and Prism management software make it one of three vendors that can provide the full stack for a hybrid cloud. Microsoft and VMware are the others.

“We’ve always had this fundamental view that hyper-convergence is not a destination, it’s a milestone in the journey for a true cloud experience,” Pandey said. “It’s not about software-defined storage alone, it’s also about hypervisor software-defined networking, security, automation, operations, and systems management and also migration.”

Nutanix forecast revenues of between $240 and $250 million for this quarter. That compares to $167 million for the same quarter in 2016.

The flip side of the Nutanix revenue growth is widening losses. It lost $458 million for the past fiscal year, compared to $170 million over the previous year. Nutanix lost $91 million in the fourth quarter, nearly double its $50 million in losses for that quarter in the previous year.

With $350 million in cash and investments, Nutanix can sustain losses for now but won’t be able to remain in pure growth mode for long.

Other highlights from the quarter:

  • Nutanix added 875 customers last quarter and 3,300 for the last year, for a total of 7,051. It closed 43 deals of $1 million or more, including an insurance company with more than $2 million in billings.
  • Adoption of Nutanix AHV hypervisor increased 75% from the previous year.
  • Virtual desktop infrastructure, an early HCI staple, came in at the lowest percentage of deals in the vendor’s history.

August 31, 2017  10:54 AM

VMworld 2017 Notes: Dell favors storage R&D over M&A

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo
Dell EMC, michael dell

LAS VEGAS — Before their merger, EMC and Dell were active buyers of storage companies. In the past year, neither has made an acquisition. That’s understandable, considering the price that Dell paid for EMC and the monster transition the combined company has gone through over the past year.

When I saw Michael Dell at VMWorld 2017, I asked him if we can expect to see Dell EMC start buying storage companies again. His answer is bad news for storage startups looking to be bought.

“We have a lot of storage. We don’ need more storage,” Dell said.

Translation: we just spent more than $60 billion on the biggest storage company in the world, and you expect us to buy more?

He instead talked about how Dell EMC is spending heavily on R&D, indicating it will look to build rather than buy. But historically EMC and Dell preferred buying their storage platforms rather than building their own.

“If we need any more storage, we’ll get it,” Dell said.

Veeam Software open to acquiring startups

Speaking of acquisitions, Veeam Software CEO Peter McKay said the backup vendor could get into the game for the first time in 2018. McKay said his profitable company now has the money and the executive team needed to make and integrate small acquisitions.

“It will be part of our strategy for 2018,” McKay said. “We have a sizeable war chest of cash. I think we’re ready for it now. Everything we’ve done until this point has been organic growth. Our goal now is to add inorganic growth to the mix without affecting overall growth. We want to scale to $2 billion or $3 billion in revenue, organically or inorganically.”

McKay said Veeam has invested in a few startups. They include N2W, which makes data protection software for Amazon Web Services EC2. “We’re looking mostly for add-ons,” he said of Veeam’s acquisition and investment strategy.

Rubrik takes home best of VMWorld 2017, scales up advisory board

Besides winning the official Best of  VMWorld 2017 award for its Alta secondary storage product, startup Rubrik also scored the unofficial “Best Marketing Gimmick” award for the show. Rubrik introduced its newest investor and board adviser, Kevin Durant, and brought him onto the VMworld 2017 expo show floor to sign autographs for star-stuck attendees.

At 6-foot-9, Durant is probably the tallest man to invest in a Silicon Valley company and he’s the only man with an NBA championship ring to put money into a storage company. But outside of name recognition—which startups can always use – how much can Durant do for Rubrik?

When USA Today asked the Golden State Warriors start about his interest in tech companies, Durant said: “Being in Silicon Valley, I play in front of (tech executives) and run into them at restaurants.”

Durant has also invested in on-demand delivery service startup Posmates and mobile investment platform company Acorns.

vSAN reaches adulthood

There was no major vSAN news at VMworld 2017, but lots of talk about the technology. That’s a sign that vSAN has matured from concept to a central data center tool. Over the past few VMWorlds, VMware concentrating on introducing its new hyper-converged software and then making product upgrades adding key features missing from early versions. Now the focus is largely on how people are using it now, mainly as a replacement from some or all of their traditional storage systems.

VMware did add an HCI Acceleration Kit at the show, a move designed to make it easier to use vSAN in remote and branch offices.

VMware’s goal for vSAN is to give IT generalists greater control over storage for their virtual machines.

“They’ve taken on the storage,” Lee Caswell, VMware’s VP of storage products, said of the generalists. “We think they can take on backup and data protection, and they can take on files, too. This is a massive data consolidation play.”

VMware is also working on adding support for Kubernetes and Docker Swarm container orchestrations with the open source “Project Hatchway” initiative.  The Hatchway goal is to allow developers to use storage better, making features such as snapshots, cloning, encryption, deduplication and compression available at the container volume level.

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