Commentary
Content posted in February 2011
What The Pink Elephant Told Me About ITIL
Commentary  |  2/28/2011  | 
Having spent the last week at perhaps the world's largest Information Technology Services Management (ITSM) conference, my eyes were opened a little wider to some pretty amazing transformations afoot across the IT landscape. I did come home feeling a bit uneasy about the future of my day job as an IT professional. I also came away with both an appreciation for the ITSM consulting and training company Pink Elephant and an equal part confusion about some of the mixed messages I heard at this most
BridgeSTOR Releases Free Data Reduction Analyzer
Commentary  |  2/28/2011  | 
When talking to people who don't have a strong technical background, I find that their reactions prove that Arthur C. Clarke was right when he said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." To them, any technology that lets them store 10TBytes of data on a 1TByte drive is magic. Then I start to explain to them that I can't really predict how much their data will dedupe because it depends on the data and that "your mileage may vary," and they start wondering if it's
Storage Capacity Still Drives Accessibility
Commentary  |  2/25/2011  | 
Over its 20 year history, innovation in the field of enterprise storage has seemed to focus on two often conflicting goals: ever-expanding capacity and the need to access all of that storage. Nearly every development seems to come down to one of these two areas. In this time of cloud storage and big data, it is illuminating to consider the challenges in light of capacity and accessibility.
ZL Technologies: A Unified Approach To Active Archiving
Commentary  |  2/25/2011  | 
Even though the "cloud" occupies much of the dialogue about transformative processes in IT, the place of archiving in that transformation is still poorly understood by many IT organizations and needs to attract more attention. Therefore, we should welcome any light that can be shed on the subject, and ZL Technologies' unified archiving approach is particularly luminous. Let's examine what the company is doing, but first, we should discuss the need for active archiving in general.
Juniper Gets To '1' With New QFabric Family
Commentary  |  2/24/2011  | 
Juniper finally got to 1 in its 3-2-1 strategy launched last year. The trend, to flatten the network, has been coming for a while. What's held back the flattening are little things, like being able to aggregate enough access ports over a high capacity and low latency interconnects, broadcast control, traffic management and, frankly, a strong driver to re-architect the network. But that hasn't stopped Brocade, Cisco and Juniper from coming out with some innovative data center network offerings.
Can Cloud Snapshots Replace Backup?
Commentary  |  2/24/2011  | 
I'm satisfied that snapshots and replication in conventional storage systems can serve the same function as more traditional backup schemes. While snapshots make satisfying the most common restore requests easy the limitations of most storage system's snapshot mechanism leave most organizations using snapshots as a supplement to, not a replacement for, backup copies. Does the cloud change the snapshot as backup calculus? Some cloud storage vendors say it does.
Primary Storage Dedupe For Backup?
Commentary  |  2/22/2011  | 
Now that data deduplication for primary storage is going mainstream, I'm starting to get questions from students at backup school about using storage systems designed to deduplicate files stored on them as backup targets. While the idea of using the same technology for your primary and backup data sounds attractive, some of the folks I've spoken to who have tried substituting a ZFS box for a DataDomain appliance have seen disappointing results.
IPv6 And DNS On The Interopnet
Commentary  |  2/18/2011  | 
The early planning work on Interop is moving along. Glenn Evans, who is managing the Interopnet and characterizes the position (with tongue firmly planted in cheek) as "benevolent dictator," and the rest of the NOC team have the daunting task of building and maintaining a production network for attendees and exhibitors, as well as providing the infrastructure to demo new technologies. At this early stage, work is being done to figure out what to offer to the show attendees and exhibitors. "If In
IBM's Watson: A Watershed Event For Information Technology--And For Society
Commentary  |  2/17/2011  | 
On the surface, Watson, IBM's "Jeopardy"-playing computer system, is impressive in its ability to answer complex, ambiguous questions expressed in natural language. In fact, Watson will likely be a centerpiece for IBM's centennial celebration in June. But Watson is more than just an impressive computing system. In fact, in the future, after Watson's technology is used and deployed in multiple ways, we expect this week's Jeopardy matches will be seen as a historic event in information technology
Snapshots And Backups Part Deux
Commentary  |  2/17/2011  | 
In What Is A Backup?, I compared conventional backups to local snapshots, concluding that restoring data faster using backups is easier when you know where it was last. With conventional backups, an administrator, after cursing under his breath and wishing he could just say no to the CFO, could search the catalog database for *smith*.xls in Finance and locate the file. Since local snapshots don't include catalogs, it's harder to restore the data that disappeared sometime last summer. But there
The First IPv6 WAN Optimizer: Speed At What Price?
Commentary  |  2/16/2011  | 
Last week, Blue Coat upgraded its MACH5 to become the industry's first IPv6-compatible WAN optimizer. WAN optimizers have long supported tunneled IPv6 over IPv4, but the MACH5 is the first WAN optimization appliance to accelerate native IPv6--and then some. The MACH5 is actually a very sophisticated IPv6 application layer gateway (ALG), providing IPv6 connectivity, security and optimization in a single device. Yet it's precisely its sophistication that raises questions around device scalability
So, What Is A Backup?
Commentary  |  2/15/2011  | 
Last week EMC blogger Chuck Hollis started a bit of a firestorm when he questioned the marketing position some vendors are taking that local snapshots make traditional backups unnecessary. As we could expect, a series of EMC haters, employees of other vendors and industry analysts jumped in to add fuel to the fire. I think Hollis did ask a valid question: As technologies advance, what is a backup?
Worlds Are Colliding! Episode #926
Commentary  |  2/15/2011  | 
It's been an interesting last several days. I've had one of those runs where you see enough cool stuff to make your head spin, but it took seeing a Seinfeld rerun and hearing George lament that "worlds are colliding!" to put it all into perspective. What an exciting time to be in the technology game, if only for the coolness factor. Of course, it helps to be old enough to remember how things were "back in the day," before we carried more computing power in our pockets than was used to put the fi
EMC Sees Big Opportunity In Big Data
Commentary  |  2/14/2011  | 
According to an EMC-sponsored IDC report, the amount of data amassed by consumers and businesses is expected to increase by 44 times in this decade. A lot of that information will be what many, including EMC, call big data. Obviously, big data requires storage and other products and services that the company provides, so it should come as no surprise that, in its recent blizzard of announcements, EMC targeted big data as one of its key markets. Let's try to understand big data and what it means,
WAN Optimization and the VDI Challenge
Commentary  |  2/14/2011  | 
I was sitting in on a peer-to-peer exchange about virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) hosted by Wikibon and listening to how great VDI is for organizations. I asked about multisite VDI and what recommendations people had for implementing VDI between sites. The speaker paused and said that she hadn't see any multisite implementations. No surprise there. VDI itself is still in its infancy, but it hit me once again that if organizations are going to see VDI's benefits at the remote office, they've
Could EMC Become The Amdahl of Cloud Storage?
Commentary  |  2/11/2011  | 
There is no doubt that EMC has shipped some Atmos storage since its introduction. Yes, EMC has Atmos. And the company claims that Atmos is specifically designed for the cloud. However, I believe that there are fundamental issues with the way EMC sells Atmos to customers. First of all, if Atmos is cloud storage, then it should be sold on a usage basis. Customers should be charged only for what they use--not for petabytes of capacity up front. After all, isn't that the whole premise of cloud? Lowe
Druva Brings App-aware Dedupe To The Laptop
Commentary  |  2/10/2011  | 
Given the fact that almost half the computers in corporate America are laptops, and a significant amount of data is created on those portable devices, I am constantly amazed at how frequently organizations leave the data on those laptops essentially unprotected. By taking a unique application aware approach to data deduplication, Druva's Insync may be the best solution to date to this seemingly intractable problem.
Self-Service IT, For IT, By IT
Commentary  |  2/9/2011  | 
I always shake my head when I hear someone say that private cloud computing won't take off because enterprises can't realize the economies of scale that a public cloud provider can. Thing is, the benefits that enterprises get from a private cloud are not the same as a public cloud. I was reminded of this while reading F5's Lori MacVittie succinctly sum up the difference in goals between private cloud and public cloud adopters in Focus of Cloud Implementation Depends on the Implementer: "Private
Zenprise Adds Powerful New Android Management Tools
Commentary  |  2/8/2011  | 
Mobile device management is certainly becoming a hot topic. An increasing number of enterprises are finding themselves faced with the challenge of reconciling the popularity and potential problems associated with these devices, as well as taming the chaos that is possible when employees and customers alike adopt an increasingly mobile culture. Though Zenprise is a multi-OS mobile support framework with a long history covering BlackBerry and Apple devices, the latest release is all about improved
Where Is Intel's FCoE Solution?
Commentary  |  2/8/2011  | 
FCoE may not be the slam-dunk portrayed by some analysts and vendors, but I'm confident an "everything over Ethernet" approach is the right one for the next generation of enterprise data centers. It's hard to argue with commodity pricing, solid 10Gbit performance, backward-compatible connectivity and network-enabled flexibility. Fibre Channel will eventually succumb to the Ethernet monster, and the data center will be better for it.
Atheros Endorses Cloud-Based Wireless In A Big Way
Commentary  |  2/7/2011  | 
When a company as integral to the wireless LAN space as Atheros endorses a new market direction, you'd do well to pay attention. The wireless chip giant is looking to make life easier for the under-served small-to-midsize enterprise (SME) space with an innovative new addition to its wireless offerings. Given that cost and complexity of doing wireless right keep adoption by SMEs to under 20 percent, Atheros wants to make secure, enterprise-quality wireless achievable for those who want it but fee
Oracle Boosts Tape to Exabyte (Per Library) Level
Commentary  |  2/7/2011  | 
While the Tape is Dead Marching Band and Chowder Society was still celebrating Imation's plant closure, Oracle decided to rain on their parade by announcing a new version of its T10000 enterprise tape system with a native capacity of 5TBytes per cartridge. Since its largest SL8500 library can be built with 100,000 slots, and 640 drives, Oracle is claiming to have built the first exabyte storage system, with compression.
Code 42: Who Are You?
Commentary  |  2/4/2011  | 
Although Code 42 Software provides consumer-based backup software for desktops and laptops, its focus from a money-making perspective is providing that same capability to organizations with a software/hardware appliance or services. What is intriguing is that Code 42 is a self-proclaimed "most expensive" solution, yet continues to grow rapidly. How can that be?
Unified Storage: What Is It Good For?
Commentary  |  2/3/2011  | 
There was a time when single-tasking data center equipment was all the rage. CPU cycles and RAM were at a premium, so it made sense to design equipment that did one thing and did it well. Intel has exploded this old assumption thanks to the continual proliferation of transistors according to Moore's Law: Today's processors, network adapters and buses have CPU cycles to spare, and most data center equipment is turning to software for differentiation.
Source vs. Target Deduplication: Scale Matters
Commentary  |  2/3/2011  | 
I had a nice conversation with the CEO of a backup software vendor, who shall remain nameless, at last week's Exec Event storage industry schmooze-fest. At the event, the CEO asked why I thought target deduplication appliances like those from Data Domain, Quantum and Sepaton were still around. Why, he asked, doesn't everyone shift to source deduplication since it's so much more elegant?
Unlimited-Storage Pricing And 'The Tragedy Of The Commons'
Commentary  |  2/2/2011  | 
I've been amazed during the past few days at the Strum und Drang over Mozy and others killing off their unlimited-use plans. While I like a bargain as much as the next guy, and think some vendor pricing models are just short of grand theft (like most wireless vendors' 20 cents a text if you go over your plan), unlimited pricing and variable costs will lead to reduced service and unfairness as low-demand users subsidize the hogs.
IT Is Becoming All About The API
Commentary  |  2/2/2011  | 
During a visit to Sillicon Valley a few weeks back, I had the opportunity to stop in on Cisco, HP and Juniper and get demos of products that I have been briefed on and written about but haven't seen in action. These products include Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS), Juniper's JunOS Space and HP's Intelligent Management Center. What struck me most about all three products is how much emphasis the vendors are putting on developing APIs, both for internal use and third-party integration. APIs
Yes, Virginia, RAID Drives Are Different
Commentary  |  2/1/2011  | 
While some other members of the storage industry's chattering class enjoy the process of haranguing array vendors for their seemingly outrageous disk drive markups, I've started recommending that users seeking cost-effective online storage look at BYOD (bring your own drive) storage systems. There are many choices available, from prosumer Data Robotics offerings and SOHO network-attached storage (NAS) boxes from NetGear and QNAP Systems to disk arrays with enterprise aspirations provided by Prom
Emulex Gains Fibre Channel HBA Market Share Over QLogic In 2010
Commentary  |  2/1/2011  | 
In 2001, Emulex commanded 80 percent of the $25 million Fibre Channel host bus adapter (HBA) market. QLogic unveiled the industry's first single-chip HBA in 2002, and leveraged its two-year technology lead into market share gains over Emulex in each of the following eight years. Emulex battled back starting in 2008, when the company regained share in various quarters, but still lost ground for the full years 2008 and 2009. Emulex momentum continued through 2010, when, for the first time since t


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