Commentary
Content posted in May 2010
Embracing Virtual WAN Acceleration
Commentary  |  5/28/2010  | 
Almost every major WAN Acceleration vendor has jumped in on the virtual appliance bandwagon. The question is, are you ready to give up that shiny new appliance with your vendor's logo and replace it with just another boring server you have kicking around your data center? Let's face it, when you buy a Citrix NetScaler or a Bluecoat Proxy SG for WAN Optimization, you're really making an investment in a software solution.
Apple Good, Apple Frustrating
Commentary  |  5/28/2010  | 
With media buzz proclaiming that Apple has surpassed Microsoft in aggregate value, I find myself reflecting on my running frustrations with Apple products from the perspective of the enterprise wireless network administrator. Let's get it right out there: I think Apple devices are sexy, cool, hip and unique. Steve Jobs' story is the stuff of legend, and even if you dislike the product line, you have to admire the man behind them. I get all of that and throw no stones at the coolness factor Apple
IBM Continues To Expand Midrange Storage
Commentary  |  5/27/2010  | 
Over the past several years, one of IBM's continuing areas of emphasis has been midrange storage. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the company has launched the latest model in its DS3000 line, the DS3500 Express. In addition, IBM announced the Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Disk Midrange Edition software that works with the DS3500, as well as its other midrange storage products. IBM has four primary disk array storage families: the DS3000, the DS5000, and the DS8000, along with X
Are Cloud Storage Providers The Same As Storage Service Providers?
Commentary  |  5/27/2010  | 
Isn't cloud storage just Storage Service Providers with new marketing? The question came up twice last week in almost identical fashion. Obviously, there is still some confusion, and the failure of Storage Service Providers (SSPs) still weighs around the neck of Cloud Storage Providers (CSP) like an albatross. Are CSPs the same as SSPs? While there is one similarity there are also dramatic differences. What's similar?
Is Ultra-Wideband Finally Going Mainstream?
Commentary  |  5/27/2010  | 
Belkin recently announced the release of their CableFree USB Hub, and this humble accessory could mean big things in the connected world. If you didn't know better, you'd likely glance at CableFree and yawn it away as just another wireless device, in the fashion of so many wireless keyboards and mice. Oh, but you'd be wrong.
You Got Flash In My Hard Drive
Commentary  |  5/26/2010  | 
Even though hybrid hard drives have been on the market for the last four years, I've never met anyone that had a kind word for them. The first generation of hybrid hard drives were more like the accidental combination of peanut butter and chocolate bar in the old commercials than a polished Reese's cup. Seagate's new Momentus XT finally realizes some of the potential inherent in combining Flash and spinning disk in a single affordable package.
A Great Decade For Tape
Commentary  |  5/25/2010  | 
As I wrote about in my most recent entry, LTO-5 adds some capabilities that will lead to this being a great decade for tape. This time, the latest generation of LTO is bringing more to the table than just speed and capacity. LTFS, as we describe in our recent article "What is LTFS," is a great example of that. In fact, while capacity did see its normal upgrade in this generation, speed was only upgraded slightly. Fear not, speed upgrades will be back on track in generation 6. Holding LTO-5 back
Dell Provides Mass Off Switch For SMB Networks
Commentary  |  5/24/2010  | 
Through its acquisition of KACE, Dell has gotten into the management appliance market, which lets you turn off the PCs as well as the lights before going home.
Holistic APM, 24 months later
Commentary  |  5/24/2010  | 
Two years ago, we completed an ambitious test of nine APM vendors over the course of almost a year. We designed a thesis around holistic APM products that not only identify problems but take corrective action to resolve performance issues before they impact users and customers. Actions may include allocating additional bandwidth or server processing capacity, even rolling back configuration changes.
The Many Shades Of Open
Commentary  |  5/21/2010  | 
Every time I hear a vendor say "We have an open this or that" somewhere in the world, a Richard Stallman acolyte dies. Or that's the way it seems. Vendors have glommed onto "open" as if it is the all-important aspect of their product, whether the product or feature is in fact open or not. It belittles those features/protocols/standards that actually are open, while doing little to characterize what the specific feature is. There is nothing wrong with proprietary features and there are actually a
Automated Tiering Needs Metadata
Commentary  |  5/21/2010  | 
EMC's announcements of FASTcache and sub-LUN FAST, the feature formerly known as FAST 2.0, has got me thinking once again about how to get the best bang for the big bucks flash memory will cost you. The whole idea of automated tiering is supposed to move the hot data to flash while leaving the less frequently accessed cold data on spinning disks. My question, is how do you determine what data is hot?
EMC World: Steps To A Private Cloud
Commentary  |  5/20/2010  | 
The unifying theme at the recent EMC World 2010 conference in Boston was that the journey to the private cloud starts now. While that vision permeated company executives' keynote presentations, do not make the mistake that EMC has its head in the clouds. Large vendors need to take a leadership role so that customers believe that they will be able to meet their evolving requirements. Those vendors also have to have a clear understanding of what customer requirements are today, a point to which EM
Are Converged Network Adaptors Suffocating The Virtual Machine?
Commentary  |  5/19/2010  | 
Last week I reviewed real-world results of a test between the Emulex UCNA and the QLogic 8152 CNA. The testing illuminated a performance delta between the products, and it demonstrated another important issue: a big difference in CPU utilization while running FCoE. For the past few months, Emulex has been making some fairly broad claims that its UCNAs can support nearly one million IOPS, which it says towers over the performance available from all other CNAs in the marketplace. Emulex said that,
Arkeia Source Side And Sliding Window Deduplication
Commentary  |  5/19/2010  | 
Arkeia Software is next up on the examination table as we plow our way through the source-side deduplication vendors. Arkeia is a backup application software supplier known mostly for their Linux product, but they also have a strong solution set for Windows and virtualized environments. They are adding deduplication to their offerings through the acquisition of Kadena Systems.
Pricing Elastic Application Delivery
Commentary  |  5/19/2010  | 
One of the claimed benefits of cloud computing is that you can scale up or scale down applications based on demand. Autoscaling is supposed to be automated and on demand, which is great in theory, and can even be done in practice, but automatic scaling ignores a related but important issue: licensing. Citrix announced their Burst-Packs for Netscalar at their user conference. It's an interesting concept, but it's inelastic.
Tape Is Back? When Did It Leave?
Commentary  |  5/18/2010  | 
Tape has been pronounced dead more often than I can remember, but it's important to note that it's usually disk vendors making the pronouncement. The reality is that tape is very much alive. When I ask about tape utilization in seminars, an overwhelming majority of attendees indicate they are still using tape. I've also seen several studies recently indicate tapeless environments account for less than 15 percent of the data centers. Tape is back, it really never left, and I believe it may be the
Virtual Networking Is Not A Requirement
Commentary  |  5/17/2010  | 
Our clients ask us how network virtualization can help them and what it means for their IT priorities. I think most concepts of network virtualization add significant complexity to our IP networks where we really don't need it. In most cases, we tell our customers that it won't help much and that there are many other things they should worry about first.
File Systems 2.0
Commentary  |  5/17/2010  | 
Storage management challenges are often being addressed by either storage hardware vendors or storage software developers. It is time for file systems to step up and offer a little help to the process. Most of the third-party software and hardware actually do a good job of solving many of the problems, but there are a few areas where the file system could help out like thin provisioning, backup and deduplication.
Thoughts On SSDs And RAID
Commentary  |  5/17/2010  | 
Most storage admins, including this intrepid reporter, are pretty reactionary about their RAID level choices. Out of force-of-habit, we choose RAID-1 or 10 when performance is the primary goal and RAID-5 (or RAID-6 for the more enlightened), when we need space more than speed. I've been thinking that these rules-of-thumb may not apply when you have six or 60 SSDs, as opposed to spinning disks, to manage.
Cloud Development In Real Time - Update From EMC World
Commentary  |  5/12/2010  | 
In discussion with Joe Tucci this week at EMC world, Joe stated that he saw two camps taking shape with regard to cloud solutions development: The Virtualization Camp and The Verticalization Camp. Tucci and EMC are clearly in The Virtualization Camp, and I agree with them in that this is the wave of the future. Virtualization, from servers to networks to storage is here and the future looks very bright indeed for solutions that will make IT operations easier and more cost efficient.
Data Protection Storage Is Different
Commentary  |  5/12/2010  | 
As data protection software becomes more intelligent, it may appear as though we need less of the storage hardware that holds protected copies of the production data. Many data protection software vendors are actively promoting the concept that you can use any disk system as a backup destination. Should you use a cheap SATA array or a data protection storage system?
WAN Vmotion And VPLEX Enable Disaster Avoidance
Commentary  |  5/11/2010  | 
I've been thinking a lot about WAN vMotion over the past few months, in no small part because a client asked me to test how their product improved the process. I haven't been the only one, as Cisco's OTV and EMC's VPLEX are directly targeted at enabling the movement of virtual machines from one location to another. Where disaster recovery solutions are designed to minimize service outages and data loss in the event of a disaster, WAN Vmotion, and/or WAN Live Migration with Hyper-V, enables the n
EMC's Tucci On Acquisitions, Infrastructure And Clouds
Commentary  |  5/11/2010  | 
EMC Chairman, President and CEO Joe Tucci took questions from the press Monday morning at EMC World in Boston after his keynote address on "The Journey To The Private Cloud." Here's a quick recap of some of what Mr. Tucci had to say on a variety of subjects, including acquisitions, infrastructure and the cloud.
NAS Market Heats Up
Commentary  |  5/10/2010  | 
Interest seems to be picking up in the mid-range unified storage space lately. In the past month or so, we've seen Iomega and NetGear move up market with 12-drive systems with enough intestinal fortitude to host Exchange and VMware via iSCSI. Moving up-market, Xiotech, Compellent and Nimbus have all announced higher-end NAS/block systems, and rumors have been floating around that EMC is about to merge their Clariion and Celerra lines.
Web 2.0: IBM's Experimental iPhone E-Mail Client
Commentary  |  5/7/2010  | 
Among the various interesting keynote presentations at the Web 2.0 Expo earlier this week was one by IBM mobile computing researcher Jeff Pierce.
The Acceleration of Bandwidth Adoption
Commentary  |  5/7/2010  | 
For many data centers the move from one level of bandwidth speed to another happens primarily when that upgrade in speed is the same price as the current speed. For example 8GB Fiber Channel (FC) is now almost the same cost as 4GB FC so it makes sense to finally begin that upgrade process. However my expectation is that the next wave of bandwidth upgrades will come at a substantially accelerated pace.
Nimbus Goes All-In For SSD
Commentary  |  5/7/2010  | 
In the venture-driven, "grow-faster-or-go-home" storage world, it's gratifying when a company is run like the small business that it is. Nimbus Data systems has been selling iSCSI disk arrays and unified storage systems for about five years, and they've been making money despite their low profile. Now, like Cortez burning his ships upon his arrival in the New World, Nimbus data CEO Tom Iskovich is betting the company that the market is ready for all SSD storage systems, discontinuing their curre
Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Advanced Server
Commentary  |  5/6/2010  | 
As we continue down our list of companies doing software based deduplication solution, next up is Acronis whose Backup and Recovery 10 Advanced Server provides both source-side and target-side deduplication. This provides users the option to deploy deduplication where it makes the most sense in their environment. All of Acronis's deduplication options are inline, so there is no post processing step that needs to occur other than normal deduplication maintenance.
Ethernet Keeps Winning
Commentary  |  5/5/2010  | 
In my early days in this industry, there was a topology battle between Ethernet and Token Ring. Token Ring was just about to release an amazingly fast 16MB/s version. It was interesting to watch IBM representatives, still in suits and ties then, draw a circle on the board and make analogies to Token Ring and the railroad. They were making the case that Token Ring was going be the infrastructure of choice and that Ethernet's time had come.
Calling It: NUMA Will Be The Shizzle In Two Years
Commentary  |  5/4/2010  | 
No matter how much hardware and software we throw at data center computing, there is the hard fact that we are limited to using only the resources on a single piece of server hardware. Oh, we can virtualize the PCI bus and share peripherals among multiple servers with virtual IO, and that has use cases. Non-Uniform Memory Architecture (NUMA) is used in high-performance computing to aggregate fundamental computer resources like CPU, RAM and IO across a high speed bus. NUMA has the capability of v
Big Blue Rolls-Out Features For Systems Storage
Commentary  |  5/3/2010  | 
During the weeks of April 12th and 19th, IBM announced the release of new features and functions for the IBM System Storage DS8700 and XIV, along with other enhancements and new products in their overall storage line up. Details of the whole announcement and a video with Doug Balog, IBM Storage Platform VP and Disk Storage Business Line Executive, can be located by clicking here.
Broadcom Unveils World's First Converged NIC With iSCSI Offload On 10GBASE-T
Commentary  |  5/3/2010  | 
Broadcom is the de facto standard for 1Gb and 10Gb iSCSI host bus adapter (HBA) offload with shipments expected to exceed one million ports in 2010. This week the company made the 957711 dual-port network interface card (NIC), the world's first 10Gb converged NIC with iSCSI HBA offload to preserve server processor resources available to OEMs, and a 10GBASE-T physical interface for connection with low-cost RJ45 connectors and existing copper cabling. This is an important milestone in the developm


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