Commentary
Content posted in July 2010
Why The FCC Is Important To You
Commentary  |  7/30/2010  | 
As an organization, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may not seem as relevant as the WiFi Alliance or as technologically astute as the standards folks at the IEEE, but the FCC is becoming ever more important to the IT community on a number of fronts. The agency is a worthy subject of study for anyone who cares about pending changes in the wireless world.
Windows Server 2008: A WAN Op Strategy
Commentary  |  7/30/2010  | 
Bluecoat, Citrix, F5, Riverbed and other similar vendors all offer highly functional and well performing WAN Optimization appliances. Unfortunately, those high-end solutions can be either overkill or over budget for some organizations. So, instead of buying the whole pizza, why not try a slice first?
A Small Step For VMware, A Giant Leap For iSCSI
Commentary  |  7/30/2010  | 
On July 13, VMware announced the introduction of vSphere 4.1 to "advance the foundation for cloud computing." Advancing the foundation of cloud computing is then broken down into five sets of enhancements. Within the category of enhancements called "increased performance through open integration with storage environments," lies a diamond in the rough. It's where you find that vSphere 4.1 enables 10Gb iSCSI hardware offload.
What Storage System? It Depends.
Commentary  |  7/29/2010  | 
When at a storage event or even responding to comments, every so often a specific question comes up about which protocol, drive type, backup application should a user implement for their specific environment. The answer that should come back most often is "it depends" because that's the truth.The reality is that for most situations, you can get almost anything to work. Its a matter of how hard you have to work at it.
Tech Field Day Part II: NEC Shows Off HydraStor
Commentary  |  7/29/2010  | 
The last stop on the geek tour at Tech Field Day Seattle was NEC's Seattle office where we got a live demo of their HydraStor deduplicating backup system. For a product no one ever heard of, HydraStor is pretty darn impressive. You can buy a small HydraStor that can ingest 500MB/s to 12TB of disk and grow it to suck in over 25GB/s of backup data, dedupe it inline, and store it on up to 1.3PB of raw disk. That's much bigger than a DD880.
Tech Field Day, Part One: Nimble Storage
Commentary  |  7/27/2010  | 
I had the good fortune last week to spend two days in the company of a dozen independent bloggers, pundits, geeks and other thought leaders in storage, networking and virtualization at GestaltIT's Seattle tech field day. We sat, not so politely, through the usual death by PowerPoint and live demos from a series of vendors ranging from those I knew well (F5 and Compellent) to those like Nimble Storage, a start-up brave enough to come out of stealth in front of the Tech Field Day crowd.
CA Technologies And SAP Reduce The Risk In Risk Management
Commentary  |  7/27/2010  | 
CA Technologies and SAP recently announced a collaborative partnership to help their customers better manage risk and compliance initiatives across both business and IT infrastructure processes. That has the potential of both reducing the risk in risk management, as well as the risk in not being compliant. Before we examine the CA Technologies and SAP partnership specifically, let's consider its broader context. Beyond the "real" physical world our five senses were designed to perceive lies the
Request For Information: Data Center Networking
Commentary  |  7/26/2010  | 
In the coming months, I am going to be spending a lot of time getting up close and personal with networking vendors' data center product sets. Jim Metzler and I are working on a data center networking RFI that Network Computing will publish, along with the vendor responses, in October. Jim and I are also going to present the results at the Interop NY show in October. I am looking forward to developing the RFI and reviewing the responses. In the last two years, there have been a ton of changes in
SSD Failure Rates
Commentary  |  7/26/2010  | 
Ever since SSD drives began their slow march to mainstream storage, there has been a constant chorus over concerns about SSD failure rates and questions on if the technology was ready for the enterprise. Most of the concern lies around how many writes a SSD drive can sustain. Vendors of enterprise SSD drives have gone to great lengths to make sure that today's SSD drives used in the data center will not have premature write issues. With the improvements in the quality of the NAND and the capabil
Application Performance Management: Laying The Groundwork
Commentary  |  7/26/2010  | 
This week I was working with a client, we will call him Jim, who was telling me about their mission critical business application. It's primarily a billing system, but also has service catalog and fairly detailed security and reporting modules built into the system. As a web-based application, the backend database is distributed and the application services just under 2,000 users. The CIO is seeking to establish key performance indicators around the application including performance metrics and
What Do We Do Now That All Wireless Security Protocols Are Busted?
Commentary  |  7/26/2010  | 
Just like that, the last bastion of wireless security went in the toilet. By now, anyone in the wireless game has likely heard about the Hole 196 attack that renders WPA2--depending on your tolerance for the parameters of the exploit--useless. Sure, the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) used in WPA2 is still sound enough to have the confidence of the US government for its beefiest encryption needs, but WPA2 itself now has a black eye. A big one.
Insecurity On The Go
Commentary  |  7/23/2010  | 
Thanks to laptops, smartphones, iPads, and other new mobile devices, our enterprises now extend to the local coffee shop, hotels and even cars on the interstate and commuter trains. Organizations let users purchase their own devices and connect them to the enterprise in the name of productivity, but this policy also introduces risks. And IT shops know it. According to a recent InformationWeek Analytics survey on mobile device management (MDM), the number of respondents citing security as the pri
Get Ready For The Impact Of 2048-bit RSA Keys
Commentary  |  7/22/2010  | 
If you've had to renew an SSL certificate for any of your critical infrastructure delivery devices recently, then you probably took notice of the need to generate and deliver at least a 2048-bit CSR to your Certificate Authority of choice. While this new standard may have little impact on you, for others the impact may be huge.
LISP's Future Is Not In The Data Center
Commentary  |  7/21/2010  | 
LISP (Locator/Identifier Separation Protocol) is an IETF draft protocol that separates location information from host information on the Internet. The essential problem that LISP is designed to solve is the cost and viability of increasingly large Internet routing tables. As a side benefit, LISP is also touted as addressing the lack of flexibility and mobility in Internet routing architectures that limit the ability of an enterprise, or even an individual user, from moving providers or locations
Dell's Into Primary Dedupe, Who's Next?
Commentary  |  7/21/2010  | 
Dell, with their announced acquisition of Ocarina Networks, put themselves squarely in the deduplication market joining both NetApp, Oracle (SUN) and EMC as storage system companies offering some form of primary storage deduplication. While it remains to be seen what Dell does with the Ocarina technology, it clearly sends a signal to other storage system vendors that primary deduplication is going to be a required capability just like snapshots are today.
Getting To Know 4G
Commentary  |  7/21/2010  | 
Just like 802.11n was a world-shaker in the WiFi realm, mobile telecommunications networks are beginning to experience a significant leap forward in capability. And just like with the "artistic marketing license" taken by WiFi 11n makers (9 times the old stuff! 6 times bigger this and that!), you have to dig through the PR to figure out what's really coming with the new 4G (4th Generation) mobile networks.
The Cloud May Not Need Server Virtualization, But Enterprises Do
Commentary  |  7/21/2010  | 
Considering Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS), I think by far the most interesting one is PaaS. The idea behind PaaS is that the service provider manages the development environment providing the core language and libraries while maintaining a separation between customer apps and data. You can get that now with a virtual hosting environment, but PaaS adds things like scalable storage, processing capacity, networking and other neat
Signing The DNS Root Is Only One Step Forward
Commentary  |  7/19/2010  | 
The DNS root zone was signed on July 15th, 2010. Did you feel it? Did you even notice? The root zone of Internet is now more secure, signed cryptographically w/ DNSSEC. Unless you are really focused on DNS, you probably didn't notice. Frankly, this is a milestone for ICANN and friends, but it's not particularly actionable today or the near future. Many other things have to happen before DNSSEC becomes useful for most of us, such as .com and .net being signed, registrars start supporting DNSSEC,
IDS Best Practices
Commentary  |  7/16/2010  | 
Intrusion detection systems (IDSs) have a bad reputation. Yes, they can be noisy and generate lots of false positives, both the network- and host-based products. But they are very useful to have at the WAN edge and within your LAN, and you can correct the signal-to-noise ratio through proper tuning and by understanding your environment. In fact, knowing your environment is the foundation of everything we as security professionals do. If we don't understand what data flows between two points or
How To Avoid #fail In Storage
Commentary  |  7/16/2010  | 
In the odd world that is Twitter, #fail is a tag you put on your tweet when something goes wrong in your life, at your job or when flying your least favorite airline. What do you do to avoid #fail in your storage infrastructure? The most important thing you can do when dealing with storage failure is to make sure you are prepared for something to go wrong before it ever happens.
The FCoE Market: Which Model Wins?
Commentary  |  7/15/2010  | 
As Fibre Channel over Ethernet moves from lab attraction and proofs of concept into real market acceptance, the big question is will the emerging FCoE market be more FC or more E? While corporate data centers worldwide have both Fibre Channel and Ethernet networks, the markets for these two networking technologies are very different, and the established players in each are trying to make the nascent FCoE market in their own images.
End-to-End APM, Who Needs It Anyway?
Commentary  |  7/15/2010  | 
Determining if your organization needs APM requires careful assessment of how application performance is affecting the bottom line. If application performance does not have a direct impact on the business, you may not need APM. The added management effort, deployment costs and maintenance fees may just add more overhead to an already strained IT budget. Using existing component level monitoring and management tools may be sufficient for your needs.
Understanding Competitive Barriers: Intellectual Property
Commentary  |  7/13/2010  | 
It is important to understand how suppliers can gain sustainable competitive advantages. IT professionals need to know this so they can better understand how to assess the companies they do business with, and suppliers need to understand this to know where they stand in the market. Any businesses' goal is to gain a competitive advantage that is defendable. To do this, they need to build barriers. For the technology company, those barriers are the intellectual property that makes up the product,
3G C-NICs Address Mass Migration To 10GbE
Commentary  |  7/13/2010  | 
The long awaited mass migration from 1GbE to 10GbE technology is underway as IT organizations extend 10GbE outwards from the core of the data center to the edge. That translates to a need for a new generation of NICs that can deliver 10GbE performance today and converged network connectivity tomorrow. The days of application-specific servers are waning as dense compute nodes become the norm. New server deployments typically include multi-processor, multi-core servers heavily loaded with guest op
Wire-Once: Strategy or Pipedream?
Commentary  |  7/12/2010  | 
With the rise of 10Gbps Ethernet and the converged data and storage network being talked about these days, we are hearing the siren's song of wire-once networking. While I love the idea of wire-once, I've been building networks long enough have heard this song before. Advocates of technologies from 10Base-T to ATM have all claimed you could wire once and then relax and live the simple life. As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Putting The Catalyst 6500 In Its Place
Commentary  |  7/12/2010  | 
The 6500 is a workhorse in the core and the data center. Network admins love to hate it and hate to love it. The variety of blades that can be inserted for in switch processing makes the platform applicable to many different network requirements. It's also an old platform and is getting pretty long in the tooth. With a paltry 80Gbps (full duplex) interconnect to the back plane, the 6500 simply isn't suited to stand as a next generation core data center switch. It's time to start thinking about p
The Thrill Of 802.11n
Commentary  |  7/12/2010  | 
Remember back to when you got your first big-kid bike, with adjustable gears and big wheels? Remember going down a sizable hill for the first time on those new wheels, and how you just knew life would never be the same? Migrating your wireless network to 802.11n rekindles those memories, and when you realize exactly what you've got in the latest wireless standard, everything that came before it seems suddenly tame by comparison.
Malware Busters
Commentary  |  7/9/2010  | 
I've been seeing many organizations struggle with malware lately, so I thought I'd offer a refresher on dealing with malicious software and all the ways it can creep into your organization. Removing malware and rebuilding infected systems eats up IT time and resources (not to mention the potential fallout from any stolen information), so your best bet is to prevent the compromise in the first place. Here's how.
Despite A Claim of Five-Nines Uptime, A 48 Hour Outage Blew The Curve
Commentary  |  7/9/2010  | 
As an organization that prides itself on working smarter, not harder, we have been an early adopter of cloud computing. This has meant learning the hard way that just because an application is "in the cloud" does not mean it is more scalable, more reliable, or that it performs any better than if you ran it on a server down the hall. If you are considering any type of "cloud" variation, you had better take the time to address much more than just the technology you are trying to offload from you
Coyote Point E650GX: Server Virtualization 3.0 Embodied In An Application Delivery Controller
Commentary  |  7/9/2010  | 
In a previous article, I wrote about "Server Virtualization 3.0 and Load Balancing," where I discussed the importance of advanced load balancing solutions that allow VMware servers to provide proactive load balancing metrics. These load-balancers use the well-defined VMware API to query VMware and gather CPU load, memory utilization and other status information for virtual servers running under VMware. The focus of this article is the Coyote Point E650GX Application Delivery Controller and Virtu
Cloud Update: Suppliers
Commentary  |  7/8/2010  | 
Cloud storage suppliers are the arms merchants for cloud storage. These are the guys that provide the equipment that cloud storage providers use to store user data. This layer of cloud storage, similar to Cloud Providers and Cloud ISVs, has also matured quite a bit in the last year.
Are Switches Getting Too Dense?
Commentary  |  7/7/2010  | 
As I was adding an Extreme X480 switch to the DeepStorage lab last week, I started to wonder if boosting switch density to 48 or more ports per rack unit might create more cable management issues than it's worth. Then I got an announcement from Oracle that they were coming out with a 72 port 1u top-of-row switch. So I have to ask you, "Is 48 ports per u too dense or just a good reason to invest in cable management?"
When Lawsuits Replace Innovation, Customers Lose
Commentary  |  7/6/2010  | 
There has been a growing surge of legal action in the storage and networking supplier community over the last few weeks, and no matter who the winner is, the IT professionals who use these technologies are going to be the real losers. I'm all for technology companies protecting their intellectual property, and when a patent is directly infringed on, they should do everything they can to protect themselves. At some point, though, you have to accept that in technology, people are going to try to a
SmartPhones Versus Lesser Phones: The New Digital Divide?
Commentary  |  7/6/2010  | 
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I just got my first smartphone. That's not to say that I haven't had my share of Palm and iPad hand-held computers and plain-Jane cell phones. At work, I have part-time custody of (and long history with) an iPhone that was just upgraded to iPhone 4. But on my own dime, my new Droid is my first personally-owned smartphone, and I'm a bit surprised at how powerful it really is after having it with me as a permanent accessory. In all fairness, the iPhone is also p
RPost Delivers Key Capabilities For Outbound E-mails
Commentary  |  7/2/2010  | 
Everyone knows that e-mail is ubiquitous. In fact, if you are reading this, you can probably not conceive of being without e-mail. Although much e-mail is mundane and routine (at best!), many are very serious business indeed, such as proposals, contracts, orders and invoices, legal documents and other critical and/or sensitive correspondence. For these, you want features, such as certifying that a message was actually delivered or including an electronic signature. For this type of functionality
Does Primary Storage Deduplication Kill Archive And Backup?
Commentary  |  7/2/2010  | 
As we begin to test primary storage deduplication technology, our initial findings are that the latency it introduces may be a non-issue for many data centers and applications. It may soon be a non-issue for all data centers and applications. If you can get deduplication on primary storage for "free" from a performance perspective, what is the impact of primary storage on the other tiers of storage? Does primary storage deduplication kill archive and backup?
Should You Secure Your LAN Like Your WAN?
Commentary  |  7/2/2010  | 
Everyone knows organizations should never send sensitive data such as credit card or social security numbers across the Internet unencrypted, but many organizations think traffic inside their firewalls doesn't require as much protection as traffic that goes outside the perimeter. That's not the case. Attacks can be perpetrated by an employee or by an attacker who finds a foothold on the network. Being attacked by a stranger is a problem, but company employees can do just as much--or even more--d
Brocade CNAs: Superior Real-World Performance | Easy Migration
Commentary  |  7/1/2010  | 
Brocade Communications serves the data center, which means the company is a high-performance networking company. Brocade is also still the new kid in town when it comes to network adapters. This means they can't be just as good as the competition, they have to be better. So the company set out to prove their Converged Network Adapters (CNAs) are the fastest, but first they had to choose one of two methodologies.


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