Commentary
Content posted in March 2010
Deduplication Backup Software - Avamar
Commentary  |  3/31/2010  | 
As we begin our dive into deduplication backup software, we will start with the guys that started it all: Avamar. Since the early part of this decade, Avamar, originally a standalone company, and later as part of EMC, has been working to convince people that delivering deduplication in the backup software and starting the process at the client, is the way to go. It seems like over the past few years they have been gaining steam, driven mostly by a clear articulation of where their source-side te
Viridity's EnergyCenter Brings Energy Management To The Data Center
Commentary  |  3/31/2010  | 
Mark Twain famously said, "Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." Conversely, in IT everyone talks about data center energy efficiency, and many vendors are trying to do something about it. The introduction of Viridity's new EnergyCenter offers a particularly intriguing example. Viridity, a start-up company, tackles the data center energy-efficiency problem head on with EnergyCenter, a software approach to enabling data center energy optimization. Now corporate ini
Dell Hits Home Run With Virtual Era And Health Care Solutions
Commentary  |  3/31/2010  | 
On March 24th, 2010, Dell stepped up to the plate in the virtual era solutions ball game and hit a home run with their announcements and positioning of new products and services offerings. The company was well prepared and came laced up and ready to play at the Bently Reserve in San Francisco where they made their announcements and provided a partner roundtable discussion that demonstrated support for the new Dell products and solutions. In the health care space, Dell announced the new Dell Medi
SNW Predictions, Part Two
Commentary  |  3/30/2010  | 
If there is one word you are going to hear a lot at SNW this year, it's "cloud." Everyone is going to have something going on with cloud storage. Even companies that really don't have anything new to offer will suddenly have a "cloud offering." In addition to the whole cloud conversation, I think there is going to be some heated discussion around SAS-2 vs. Fibre. SAS-2 brings a 6-Gb/s transfer rate, a standardized expander zoning and backward compatibility. How will SAS as an infrastructure be a
Cache or Tier? Flash By Any Other Name. . .
Commentary  |  3/30/2010  | 
Today's flash SSDs are more than just the latest in a long series of storage systems that provide performance at any cost. RAMdisks, head per track disk, short-stroked drives and the like all boosted performance for datasets small enough to fit in the limited space they provided. Vendors are promising that we can use the performance of SSDs for more mainstream applications by moving the "hottest" data into SSDs and leaving the rest behind on capacity oriented drives. Now we just have to agre
Metering Social Networking Sites At The Gateway
Commentary  |  3/29/2010  | 
Most managers have no problem with a little internet frivolity during business hours. A personal E-mail here and a Facebook posting there can't possibly interfere with productivity on any measurable scale, right? Then there's "that guy." You know him, the guy who is on Facebook all day long. The guy who's connected with everyone on LinkedIn. The guy who tweets every detail of his day to the world. In other words, the guy who ruins everything for the rest of us.
HP Intends To Stay King Of The IT Vendor Hill
Commentary  |  3/26/2010  | 
Hewlett-Packard (HP) broke into the top 10 Fortune 500 at #9 in 2009 with roughly $115 billion in annual sales. It's an impressive feat, but what's more interesting is where HP goes from here. But before we examine what HP is doing and plans to do, we need a little perspective. IT in its broadest sense is, and will continue to be, one of the major drivers of economic productivity and wealth creation. Yet the number of large IT information infrastructure companies is relatively small, undercuttin
Apps Should Define Enterprise Mobility More Than Devices
Commentary  |  3/26/2010  | 
The woes of smartphone maker Palm have been front and center across the tech blogs and publications in the last week, with many folks predicting the death or sale of the storied company. While Palm's WebOS devices have not exactly taken the enterprise market (or apparently the consumer market) by storm, there is still a lesson for IT in the current drama: Avoid choosing a loser by not choosing at all.
Predictions For Spring SNW 2010
Commentary  |  3/25/2010  | 
With SNW 2010 only three weeks away, my briefing calendar is already filling up, but I am trying to determine what some of the key themes are going to be this year. While we can't say the economy is rocking and rolling again, it does seem that IT Professionals are on the hunt to solve some specific challenges in their data centers. Here are my predictions of what is going to come out of SNW 2010.
Shortest Path Bridging Will Rock Your World
Commentary  |  3/25/2010  | 
Whether you're planning to deploy FCoE in the data center or voice and video on your LAN, chances are you will have to redesign your network to be more efficient and robust than it is today. The way we design LANs today means we often over-provision because we build choke points through which all traffic has to pass even when the traffic is going to a neighbor. The distribution and core layers have to be over built just to overcome the choke points. It's wasteful and only addresses a symptom of
Attack Ads Are Effective And Here To Stay
Commentary  |  3/25/2010  | 
Thanks to Verizon and their successful "There's A Map For That" commercials, technology companies believing they have a distinct competitive edge are feeling emboldened to follow Verizon's lead. Thanks to AT&T, victims of this type of advertising are suing and counter-attacking. AT&T publically claimed the ads were "blatantly false and misleading," then filed a false advertising lawsuit. The company is now counter-attacking with their "Side by Side" commercials that compare the overall 3G exper
Voicecon: Going Forward, Vision Matters
Commentary  |  3/24/2010  | 
I spent the better part of Voicecon talking to vendor executives about their companies' UC visions. In many cases, these were centered around some vague notion of making communication easier by bonding voice, video and chat into a unified whole. Frankly, they are all skinning the same cat, which is fine, but I don't see video-conferencing being able to sustain excitement for too long. Sure, it's all shiny and new when you first see it, but on a daily basis it becomes just another medium. Vision
3Par Scores Another First With Enterprise Sub-Volume Optimization
Commentary  |  3/23/2010  | 
On March 8, 3Par announced their introduction of Adaptive Optimization for sub-volume storage tiering along with their support for SSD's within the InServ arrays. Looking back at my comments in my blog post of January 30th, it is clear that 3Par has moved past EMC with first-to-market positioning with sub-volume data optimization for enterprise-class storage arrays.
Thinly-Provisioned Bandwidth
Commentary  |  3/23/2010  | 
Thin-provisioning of storage came about to address the issue of having to hard-allocate storage capacity to servers. This leads to more efficient utilization of a resource that many data centers have plenty of, but prior to thin-provisioning, most of it was allocated but not used. As we move into an era of increased datacenter bandwidth, we are going to need the ability to do the same thing. Think about it. Today most bandwidth is hard allocated to a single server.
VoiceCon 2010: Vendors Clash Over Lack Of Standards. No One Wins
Commentary  |  3/22/2010  | 
The most salient message that came out of Next Generation Communications Architectures at VoiceCon 2010 came from Jack Jachner, VP of Cloud Communications for Alcatel-Lucent, who said, "you should choose your communications system from a communications company." Jachner wants that communications company to be Alcatel-Lucent, but that sentiment can be applied to nearly every other vendor represented on the panel, because there is little interoperability between communications systems.
EMC Lays Down The Virtual Storage Gauntlet
Commentary  |  3/22/2010  | 
In a recent event focused on "virtual storage," EMC fearlessly stated that "this changes everything." Thus, the company audaciously claims to "boldly go where no one has gone before." We industry analysts love that type of claim as it stirs up controversy, discussion and the need to write millions of words analyzing and dissecting its meaning, value and validity not only now, but also over the next few years. So, in a thumbnail sketch (relatively speaking) rather than a million words, let's beg
Automatic Tiering - It Isn't HSM/ILM 2.0
Commentary  |  3/19/2010  | 
Ever since NetApp's Tom Georgens said "I think the entire concept of tiering is dying" in an analyst call last month, the blogosphere has been all a-twitter about automated storage tiering, I mean George Crump alone got three blog entries out of it. Unfortunately, many of those writing about automated tiering are thinking about storage as strictly unstructured file data, arguing that better file management with an ILM-like solution would be a better idea. In array tiering, is the cost/performanc
Source-Side Deduplication
Commentary  |  3/18/2010  | 
In our next series of entries, we will begin to look at companies that do source-side deduplication. Actually, we already looked at one: Atempo. Source-side dedupe means that the redundant data is eliminated prior to it traveling across the network to the backup server. If you draw this technique up on the whiteboard, it seems like this would be the most logical place to eliminate redundant data, but it is not without its challenges and we will try to address those as we go through them.
Watch For The Sacred Cows On The Road To Enterprise Mobility
Commentary  |  3/18/2010  | 
Several years ago, while working for a small manufacturer, I was tasked with mobilizing the salesforce. The goal, at least at the time, was pretty lofty: eliminate the need for a laptop for the sales guys. The project started off very well. I was able to get evaluation units of all of the latest devices running the latest operating systems. We put a few devices in the hands of the eventual end-users and gathered a wealth of feedback on what would work best for them out in the field. Synchronized
Gorillas In The Market
Commentary  |  3/17/2010  | 
The lush, changing landscape of the Fibre Channel market took another interesting turn today with QLogic's announcement of their addition of the 5800V Series stackable switches to EMC's Select program of product offerings. While some may view this announcement as just another new reseller for the 20 port switch, there are several larger implications here to consider.
If Disk-Drives Weren't Proprietary, Storage Would Still Be Expensive
Commentary  |  3/17/2010  | 
Every once in a while I'm chagrined when another storage blogger, who should know better, starts complaining about the huge difference between the cost of a 2TB hard drive they buy at Fry's and the cost of a similar amount of storage in an enterprise array. Ladies and gentlemen, while disk drives may account for most of the weight of a disk array, we're past the point where they make up most of the value.
Cisco Refreshes Switch and Router Lines
Commentary  |  3/17/2010  | 
Cisco has been busy lately, wedging itself into new markets, such as energy management and integrated network, server, and data storage devices. Yet, the company has not pushed its bread and butter, switches and routers, completely to the backburner. In fact, the vendor made a broad suite of enhancements to those devices under its Borderless Network initiative.
Migration Migraines
Commentary  |  3/16/2010  | 
One of the problems with ever-increasing storage volumes is moving that volume of data to a new storage system. When that nice, new storage system is added to a row in your data center, after you turn it on, make sure everything lights up and finish connecting servers that at some point are going to have to migrate data from the old storage platform to the new one. New storage systems bring new technologies like thin provisioning and automated tiering. How do you make sure your migration does no
IBM's Integrated Service Management Quickens Pulse
Commentary  |  3/16/2010  | 
Despite all the buzz about software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS), IT as a service is nothing new. That is what IT, when provided by support organizations, always has been and always will be. However, making that service better and extending its reach and range beyond traditional boundaries is critical to forward movement. That is where service management comes in.
Ruckus Rolls Out New 802.11n Access Points
Commentary  |  3/15/2010  | 
The access points in the new ZoneFlex 7300 series claims to deliver cost-friendly performance for less than $1 Per Mbps of capacity.
Consolidating My Computers Onto A Single Laptop
Commentary  |  3/15/2010  | 
It's no secret that I probably spend way too much time in front of my computer. I use them for work and for play. Over the years, I have accumulated a number of laptops and desktop that I have pressed into use for various projects and with each new machine, I had yet another box to manage not to mention the power and space requirements to hold all of this hardware. But I don't need separate hardware in most cases, especially when I am doing software development or proof of concept work. What I r
Will Cloud ISVs Determine Cloud Storage Winners?
Commentary  |  3/12/2010  | 
Cloud storage providers are all actively pursuing Independent Software Developers (ISVs) to support their cloud at the back-end. The idea is to make cloud storage a simple option to your storage application of choice, making the use of cloud storage skyrocket. The provider with the most ISVs in their pockets wins. Will that strategy work?
Recovering From RedoLog Corrupt Errors On VMware ESX/ESXi
Commentary  |  3/11/2010  | 
RedoLog corrupt errors are a common issue on VMware ESX/ESXi machines where machines are snapshotted and the datastore is allowed to run low on space. Use this step by step guide to get your machine back in business.
Brocade Shifts Ethernet Strategy
Commentary  |  3/11/2010  | 
I must admit I was surprised when Brocade, in their quarterly earnings call last month, announced that while their total revenue and earnings were up, Ethernet sales were down almost 25 percent. Analysts were busy downgrading the stock, declaring the Brocade/Foundry merger a failure and generally decrying the foolishness of anyone that dared challenge Cisco in the market. Methinks they doth protest too much.
The Battle For WLAN Differentiation
Commentary  |  3/11/2010  | 
The recent announcement that security vendor Fortinet is entering the enterprise wireless market highlights the ubiquitous availability of WLAN hardware. However, unlike the major players in the market, Fortinet does not have buildings full of RF engineers designing new radio hardware from the ground up. Today, just about any vendor can build (or have built for them) wireless access points based off of reference designs from the radio chip-makers. Add some controller and management software, and
Issues With Automated Tiering
Commentary  |  3/10/2010  | 
While the industry, myself included, has been busy extolling the virtues of automated tiering, it's important to understand that it's not a be-all-end-all for the storage manager. Certainly there is plenty to like but, there are a few caveats that you should be aware of. From a performance perspective most (if not all) automated tiering systems leverage SSD or RAM to accelerate I/O and reduce latency. The upside of this, as we have discussed, is that it provides an automated way for storage mana
FalconStor And Violin Add SSD To NSS
Commentary  |  3/10/2010  | 
While I had been waiting for FalconStor to add flash support to their Network Storage Server (NSS) storage virtualization software, I was expecting flash volumes off a Fusion-IO or TMS PCIe flash card with promises of automated tiering to arrive sometime before Snow White's prince. I was pleasantly surprised when the folks at FalconStor called to tell me they were aiming a little higher than that and using Violin's solid state memory array as a cache.
IBM Reloads Enterprise Branding
Commentary  |  3/9/2010  | 
Global CIO's Bob Evans and I were talking with Rod Adkins, the senior vice president who runs IBM's Systems and Technology Group. That operation is Big Blue's Big Kahuna, accounting for $19 billion in annual revenues and including IBM's chip, server, storage and systems software businesses. Did I mention that Adkins is also responsible for IBM's global manufacturing, procurement and customer fulfillment operations? All of this is by way of saying that, when Adkins speaks, one should listen.
One Million IOPS: Moving The Data Center Bottleneck
Commentary  |  3/9/2010  | 
The first system administrator to ever upgrade a server undoubtedly experienced a mismatch in performance between the installed server and the new component. Since then, millions of data center managers have experienced first-hand the performance bottleneck constantly moving from one component in their data center to another. Have those years of experience stopped smart people in our industry from challenging whether it makes sense to deploy new generations of faster technology, because the new
The Types Of Automated Tiering
Commentary  |  3/9/2010  | 
Automated tiering, the transparent movement of data between tiers of storage, has several methods of delivery. There is some disagreement as to which is the "real" automated tiering. I'm not sure if from a storage manager's perspective it matters, but understanding the types of automated tiering will help you select the best method for your data center.
Spend More To Save More - Rethinking iPad For Enterprise Users
Commentary  |  3/5/2010  | 
The launch details of Apple's iPad tablet were just recently revealed, with the WiFi-only version of the device going on sale April 3rd and is open to pre-orders on March 12th. While the gadget geeks will certainly be standing by with credit cards at the ready, I believe that waiting a bit longer for the 3G model, and paying a bit more, is the way to go for most enterprise road warriors.
Practical Analysis: Are You Neglecting Your WAN?
Commentary  |  3/4/2010  | 
Web apps and consolidated data centers are adding pressure, and video will bring even more. It could be time to explore new options.
Is All Storage Hype Bad?
Commentary  |  3/4/2010  | 
Cloud Storage, Automated Tiering, FCoE and deduplication are the current over-discussed technologies in storage. At some point, a technology gets discussed so much that it becomes over-hyped. The reality is that most of the potential users of any of these technologies are not even close to adopting them. Especially right now, most IT professionals are just trying to keep their heads above water. Is all storage hype bad, though?
More Businesses Plan To Implement UC
Commentary  |  3/4/2010  | 
The implementation rates for UC remain steady, but the numbers of organizations building strategic plans for UC adoption has increased.
Vendor Metamorphosis, Or Resurrection?
Commentary  |  3/4/2010  | 
Back in July, I was skeptical that longtime tape automation vendors Tandberg Data and Overland Storage would successfully transit the tempest that is the SMB storage market in the recession. Both are announcing products and road maps that fit their SMB customers better, and Overland has both managed to raise another $12 million and hire Geoff Barrall to be their CTO, which could keep them around long enough to deliver on the vision. MAID pioneer Copan wasn't so lucky, however.
Take Our Server Survey
Commentary  |  3/3/2010  | 
The server space has changed rapidly over the past few years, forced into a technological transition by four broad and simultaneously emerging trends: the ongoing push toward consolidation, the business imperative to rein in out-of-control power and cooling costs, the rise of cloud computing and a looming push for next-generation data center architectures.
IBM Bolsters The Case For Information Governance
Commentary  |  3/3/2010  | 
IBM recently staged a coming of age party for information governance. Information governance is nothing new for the company, its latest announcement simply heightens its growing emphasis. IBM, along with some other vendors, is increasing the drumbeat for a very good reason: governance is critical to leveraging information as effectively as possible. Since many enterprises are still unclear on what information governance is--let alone its benefits and how to do it--putting an information governan
Automated Tiering: Cost Savings Or Performance Enhancer?
Commentary  |  3/2/2010  | 
One of the questions that came up quite a bit in response to my last entry was whether or not Automated Tiering Systems (ATS) were designed to drive cost savings or to be a performance enhancers. In that entry, I took the stance that ATS is a performance enhancer, while some of the comments and emails suggested that it was a cost enhancer. The real answer is that it's what you make of it.
Is Emulex Running The HP Table?
Commentary  |  3/2/2010  | 
On February 26, Emulex announced that its OneConnect Universal Converged Network Adapters are available from HP. This is a massive opportunity, given that HP is the largest OEM consumer of host adapters in the world. It is also significant because time-to-sales will be quick since the new HP-branded products are available for high-volume HP ProLiant rack, tower and blade servers. This also marks a ground floor opportunity for Emulex. These products are the first host adapters available from HP t
Broadband Sales Pick Up
Commentary  |  3/1/2010  | 
A year they would like to forget, this is how network equipment providers would describe 2009. While sales of broadband access systems declined 12 percent for the year, they showed signs of life as the year closed: DellOro Group determined that revenue increased by double digits in the fourth quarter of the year.
Default Passwords Can Kill You
Commentary  |  3/1/2010  | 
It's been widely reported that Czech security experts recently uncovered a large botnet that exploited the weak and default passwords of many broadband routers and DSL/Cable modems. The impact? DNS redirects to malware sites, DDoS attacks and data leakage for many unsuspecting broadband users. Don't let this happen to externally-facing gear in your datacenter. There are a couple of easy and free ways to pen test your network.


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