Commentary
Content posted in August 2010
IT Is Woefully Behind Network Updates
Commentary  |  8/31/2010  | 
The focus on software features and APIs in network equipment means a renewed emphasis on network maintenance that is severely lacking today. Network automation, adaptation and virtualization are increasingly focused around the software features of network equipment. The days of "speeds and feeds" have given way to the API. It is funny, I hear so much talk about APIs from network vendors that I am waiting for someone to tell me about the "Virtual, open-source, multi-port network appliance." It is
The Challenges Of VMworld
Commentary  |  8/31/2010  | 
VMworld kicked off yesterday, and despite the crowd, everything seems to be under control. The media/analyst area is no exception. It is under strict control (i.e. too much), making it very difficult for industry people like myself to get information to you about what is going on at the event. VMworld organizers will let the analysts and press in the area, but not the vendors we need to speak to. Anyone see a problem with that?
Primary Storage Deduplication: GreenBytes
Commentary  |  8/31/2010  | 
I concluded in a recent blog entry "Do We Need Primary Storage Deduplication?" about how primary storage deduplication can bring significant value to the data center, and it is becoming a must for suppliers to provide. In our own testing on two different deduplication platforms, we are seeing an almost 70 percent reduction of capacity requirements on real world data sets.
Public Cloud APM Is Useless. Focus On Private Cloud APM
Commentary  |  8/30/2010  | 
APM in the public cloud services is of very little value, since you can't get to the root cause of problem. As distributed application workloads move to cloud environments, the fundamental architecture of applications is poised to change dramatically. One of the barriers to cloud adoption is that legacy applications do not yet function in a virtualized, cloud environment. As new applications are developed that operate divorced from physical hardware, the data collection techniques must shift to
Summertime Tech Bidding Wars, Part Deux
Commentary  |  8/30/2010  | 
In 2009, we saw what we thought was a bit of an anomaly within the Information Technology industry: a multi-billion dollar summertime bidding war between two tech heavy-weights over a smaller technology company. EMC battled it out with Network Appliance over the acquisition of much smaller Data Domain which had cornered the market on data deduplication. This year, in a similar time frame, we are experiencing another summertime bidding war, this time between Hewlett Packard (HP) and Dell over uti
The Joys And Frustrations Of Wireless Printers
Commentary  |  8/30/2010  | 
I'm the university's primary wireless network administrator, the parent of a college student and Tier 3 support, otherwise known as the poor unfortunate that gets the connectivity problems that are too weird for my colleagues to handle. Like my contemporaries in other schools, I've watched our wired network usage in the dorms drastically decrease as our once-proud Ethernet networks become high-speed gaming frameworks as clients demand portability and mobility out of their computers. Laptop usag
Google's Enterprise Communications Play
Commentary  |  8/27/2010  | 
Enterprise IT professionals have reputations as curmudgeons who can cite 32 reasons why deploying a particular codec won't work on a particular link, or why choosing that particular application isn't the smartest thing to do (aka a really dumb thing to do). But have we missed the mark by being skeptical of Google's communication revolution? Surely you've had to field questions like "Why can't we just use Google Docs?" or "Can't I just run GTalk inside the firewall?" But there's good reason for t
Hard Drives Have A Future
Commentary  |  8/27/2010  | 
As flash-based solid state disks have entered the mainstream, users and analysts alike have been contemplating the end of the hard disk era. Even my compatriot George Crump wondered last week when SSDs would dominate the data center. While flash has displaced spinning disks in some applications like MP3 players where small size and shock resistance are at a premium over capacity, I don't see the disk drives we all know and love going away any time soon.
3PAR And HP Vs. Dell: Its On!
Commentary  |  8/26/2010  | 
As last year's duel between NetApp and EMC showed, there is nothing more fun than a bidding war, especially if you are the company being sought after. It also makes it so much easier to come up with blog content. As expected, Dell has countered HP's bid for 3PAR and made it clear to everyone that the quest for enterprise class storage virtualization is on, or to at least make HP spend more money.
10GbE: Where Money Talks And Hype Walks
Commentary  |  8/26/2010  | 
Nearly everyone agrees that the 10GbE adapter market will be big. The latest forecast from the Dell'Oro Group says the market will quadruple over the next four years, reaching about $800 million. It's no wonder everyone from Broadcom to Mellanox wants a piece of the action. However, no company more than Emulex has tried to position itself as "the" 10GbE adapter company. The question is, has it worked? I don't think so.
Will HP-3PAR End EVA?
Commentary  |  8/24/2010  | 
Why is 3PAR so important and why are they getting billion dollar offers? Fellow Network Computing contributor Howard Marks outlines the specifics in his most recent entry. In short, 3PAR has been an innovator in the space. My concern with Dell-3PAR or HP-3PAR is wondering whether innovation will continue? Also, s HP prepared to make the hard choice to end its EVA storage solution?
APM Success: Know Your Requirements
Commentary  |  8/24/2010  | 
Almost a month ago, we got to know an IT manager, Jim, who was selecting an application performance management (APM) product. After releasing his RFI to 14 vendors, he received six responses. Jim structured the RFI around three major sections: data collection, visualization and reporting. For data collection, Jim wanted different options for monitoring the components of his applications, including components that might reside in a cloud environment. Data collection was also important for an app
Solid "Slate" Storage
Commentary  |  8/23/2010  | 
In my last entry, I discussed how solid state storage could make its way into the enterprise. What is sometimes forgotten in that discussion is that the other markets solid state storage participates in potentially dwarf the enterprise market. One of the subjects made clear at the Flash Memory Summit was how big the market for smartphones and slates or tablets like the Apple iPad is going to become. Solid "slate" storage may end up dwarfing every other market that solid state storage participate
HP Tops Dell Offer For 3PAR
Commentary  |  8/23/2010  | 
Just as I was sitting down to write what I thought of Dell's proposed acquisition of 3PAR, HP swooped in and offered $1.6 billion dollars for 3PAR, a third more than Dell's initial offer. Only time will tell if this turns into an old fashioned bidding war like the one NetApp and EMC got into over DataDomain last year, but it's certainly brought some excitement to the dog days of summer.
Virtual Instruments: Early Incumbents In The VIO Market
Commentary  |  8/20/2010  | 
Privately held Virtual Instruments is a company to watch. The company is a 2008 spin-out of Finisar Corporation that has established early incumbency in the nascent market for Virtual Infrastructure Optimization [VIO], the next big wave in management of information technology. Founded in 2008, the company is funded by a group of highly experienced, well known IT industry veterans including CEO John Thompson. The former CEO of Symantec Corporation, Mr. Thompson played a key role in the de
My Next Data Center: Power Distribution
Commentary  |  8/20/2010  | 
Now that we've resolved that I'm using AC power coming out of a modular UPS in my next data center, we can look at how I'll get power from the UPS to my server and storage racks. Over the years I've seen all sorts of solutions, from L5-20 twist-lock outlets in the ceiling and orange extension cords under the raised floor, to APC's pre-built whips running in cable troughs on top of the racks. After all that, I definitely know what I like, and don't.
When Will Solid State Dominate? It's Not That Complicated
Commentary  |  8/19/2010  | 
Sitting at the very well attended Flash Memory Summit, by far the number one question being asked is "When will solid state storage dominate the market?" Is it really that complicated? SSD domination or at least acceptance, like all things in storage comes down to performance, reliability and price. While performance should be a clear winner for solid state storage there are issues to be addressed. The first is dealing with write performance.
QLogic Enters The Ethernet Switch Market
Commentary  |  8/17/2010  | 
On June 23, 2010, QLogic announced that its new FCoE ASIC, code-named Bullet, is now incorporated into the HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24-port modules used inside of HP blade servers. This marks an important design win for QLogic as well as a stealthy entry into the Ethernet switch market.
Considering Skype For The Enterprise
Commentary  |  8/17/2010  | 
I recently wrote about how Skype is going to be using the revenue generated from the IPO to attack the business market. The company does a good job highlighting its penetration into fringe business cases--mobility and international calling--and emerging business cases, such as video calling, but perceptions of Skype as prone to security and other problems have been a barrier to enterprise-grade use. Should you consider Skype for enterprise-wide deployment? Let's discuss.
With 3Par Acquisition, Dell Shows They Are Serious About Storage
Commentary  |  8/17/2010  | 
Over the past few years, Dell has taken carefully measured and calculated steps with its storage business, namely the acquisition of EqualLogic and the pumping up its engineering and sales organization to support greater storage sales. Now, Dell makes another smart move with the acquisition of 3Par, the 10 year-old enterprise storage provider that was first to deliver thin provisioning within high-end storage arrays, as well as developing abstracted storage virtualization techniques that allow r
The Application Performance RFI
Commentary  |  8/16/2010  | 
Over the past few weeks, we have gotten to know Jim - a veteran IT manager who needs to deploy an application performance management (APM) solution. His objectives are to establish key performance indicators around the application including performance metrics and service licensing agreements (SLA). His billing system 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 applica
Know Your Product's Security Capabilities
Commentary  |  8/16/2010  | 
To build-out enterprises we utilize technologies in all forms. From the routers that shape the network to interrupters that understand the software powering our web servers, third parties have a hand in how secure our enterprise is. It is important when selecting third party technologies that security be kept in mind but we don't always get much of a choice. If we need a desktop operating system, we are pretty limited. If we need a widget for our website, however, we have more options. No matte
Xirrus Advocates For Pure Wireless Environments
Commentary  |  8/13/2010  | 
Anyone with a pulse in IT knows that wireless networking is muscling out wired Ethernet at home and in business. At a recent Aruba Networks' conference, I was struck by the real-world relevance of the event's running mantra of "wireless where you can, wired where you must." That simple phrase is playing out in my own very large WLAN, where wireless pervades as the main connectivity option for most users, with the patch cable still revered for a shrinking minority of devices. In a recent TCMnet i
HP's Next CEO Needs To Steer The Ship
Commentary  |  8/13/2010  | 
With Mark Hurd out of HP, the company has an opportunity to find a replacement who can carry the company forward. One of the striking moments at CiscoLive was listening to CEO John Chambers during the keynote and in a smaller gathering, and realizing how firmly he has his finger on the pulse of Cisco's business and technology direction. He is clearly driving the company. Whoever takes over HP, and apparently our own Art Wittmann interviewed for the job, has a number of challenges facing them, n
My Next Datacenter: No DC Power For Me
Commentary  |  8/13/2010  | 
When the green data center movement started a few years ago, I started to see claims that switching our data centers to DC power would save us 20 or even 30 percent on our power costs. I'm not buying it. Not only do I think the 20-30 percent savings claims are, shall we say, somewhat exaggerated, but I don't think there's 20 percent power waste in the power conditioning and distribution systems in most data centers. As we continue the My Next Data Center, series I'll explain why there's "No DC F
The Inhibitors To I/O Virtualization
Commentary  |  8/12/2010  | 
In my entry "I/O Virtualization: When, Not If," I discussed some of the merits of I/O Virtualization (IOV) and the value in offloading I/O responsibilities from the hypervisor with SR-IOV (single route IOV). While SR-IOV and IOV may seem like great strategies, there are some inhibitors that need to be overcome. The first is OS or hypervisor support, and the second is dealing with the disruptions to the network and storage infrastructure when first implemented.
Net Neutrality: Where The Money Goes
Commentary  |  8/12/2010  | 
As we all know, Google and Verizon have reached a private agreement to for Google to pay for priority shipping of its bits over Verizon's networks. Both companies are getting beat up for that agreement. Google is getting beat up because they have long been proponents for net neutrality and have turned their back on the wireless side. Verizon is getting beat up because they are Verizon. But the pernicious FUD that is spread about Net Neutrality is appalling. It started long before October 2009,
My Next Data Center: Power Conditioning
Commentary  |  8/11/2010  | 
It's been a long time since anyone at Network Computing, or anyone among our erstwhile competitors, has talked seriously about KVM switches, power distribution, cable management or any of the other little things that keep a data center running smoothly. Since we just moved DeepStorage labs into a new data center, I figured I'd share what I learned in the process and describe what I'd do the next time I get to build a small-to-medium size data center from scratch. I'll start with power conditioni
IPO Fueling Skype's Business Play
Commentary  |  8/11/2010  | 
Reading about Skype's IPO filing on Gigaom reminded me of a conversation that I and Michael Osterman had with David Gurlé, the general manager for Skype for Business in June. Gurlé was in France at the time when we caught up with him, and we spoke about the Skype's future in the business market. He was bullish, as you'd expect, about their prospects to penetrate business, and went through detailed plans on how Skype for Business would succeed in business communications.
Meraki Boosts Cloud-Based WLAN With Traffic Control, Other New Features
Commentary  |  8/11/2010  | 
Meraki has long been at the tip of the spear in cloud-based wireless networking, delivering feature parity with the industry's top solutions providers while leaving heavyweight controllers out of the picture. Instead of wireless switches that provide the intelligence behind the contemporary wireless network, Meraki hosts this typically expensive and often maintenance-heavy building block in the cloud, greatly simplifying the components needed to pull off a top-notch WLAN.
Network Security Industry Working Group Forming
Commentary  |  8/10/2010  | 
If you're a Network Administrator or vendor, I'm sure you will benefit from an "apples to apples" comparison of test data on how effective your network security systems operate. To that end, a new consortium is being formed to develop an industry-standard test suite to achieve that goal. What does this all mean to you?
Breaking Down Vendor Strategy In New Markets
Commentary  |  8/10/2010  | 
As manufacturers get larger, they sometimes begin to look at other adjacent markets that they can get into to leverage their current market position. One example might be a SAN array manufacturer deciding to sell a disk-to-disk backup solution or developing a new feature for their existing solution, such as adding deduplication. How they decide to accomplish this task and how committed they are may directly impact the customer.
What Makes Storage Primary?
Commentary  |  8/9/2010  | 
Over the years I've had many conversations with users about their primary, secondary and sometimes tertiary storage. Too often the conversation quickly moves to products and applications with the members of the fraternal order of steely eyed storage guys insisting that only a Symmetrix, USP-V or similar supporting OLTP applications could be considered primary. So I have to ask: What makes storage primary?
Building APM Requirements And A Business Case
Commentary  |  8/6/2010  | 
Last week we looked at laying the foundation for an APM solution, but now it's time to get to work. We introduced Jim - a veteran IT manager who lacks any APM solution. As we discussed, he needs to establish key performance indicators around a critical application, including performance metrics and SLAs. His billing system also has a service catalog and detailed security and reporting modules built into the system. As a Web-based application, the backend database is distributed and the applicati
QLogic: Out With The Old, In With The Old
Commentary  |  8/5/2010  | 
QLogic announced results for the first quarter of its fiscal 2011 in July. The company posted another quarter of exceptional profitability driven by cost-cutting. However, the good news was offset by the second consecutive quarter of declining revenue for both the company and its core host adapter business. Company revenue of $142.6 million in Q1 represented a quarter-over-quarter decline of 2.13 percent, with the core host adapter business down 1.16 percent quarter-over-quarter.
The Limits Of Intuition
Commentary  |  8/5/2010  | 
We in IT often rely on gut instinct to make decisions. We pride ourselves on the ability to look at a problem and quickly find a solution. We see a vulnerability, know a nasty exploit exists, and react by telling everyone the vulnerability must be patched. Instict and intuition play a useful role in decision-making, but it's a lot more limited than many people would like to admit, particularly in the realm of security and risk management. It's foolish to think that the complex risks that a corpo
I/O Virtualization: When, Not If
Commentary  |  8/5/2010  | 
I/O Virtualization (IOV) is an I/O card-sharing technology that lets multiple servers share multiple cards across a single, high-speed cable segment. The general purpose of IOV is to make it easier to share bandwidth among servers in a rack. The cards to be shared are placed in a gateway, and the servers connect to that gateway. Cards are typically shareable on a per-port basis. For example, a quad-port Ethernet card could be assigned to four different servers. The ports or cards can be quickly
Why Aren't Japanese IT Companies Stronger In U.S.?
Commentary  |  8/4/2010  | 
I've been reminded twice over the past few weeks of just how little mindshare Japan's big three IT companies have on this side of the Pacific. First, the vast majority of my fellow geeks at Tech Field Day didn't realize that NEC made servers and storage systems in addition to monitors and PBXs. Then I read a series of blogs from folks that went to Hitachi's 100th anniversary bash in Japan referring to HDS as "masters of stealth marketing." So why don't these established companies have better mar
Impulse Point And Aruba Networks Team Up For Wireless NAC
Commentary  |  8/4/2010  | 
As wireless networking continues to edge wired Ethernet towards the margins, the same worries that once prevailed on the wire have migrated to the WLAN. Among these concerns is Network Access Control (NAC). Traditionally, NAC has been a stand-alone service that you "point" a given VLAN or set of users at. Interactions between the NAC system and network switches provide on-ramps to the network, or quarantine users when their computers don't pass muster based on requirements for antivirus, operati
What Comes After Dedupe?
Commentary  |  8/4/2010  | 
There has been a lot written about deduplication. It has become commonplace in backup and is quickly becoming a requirement in primary storage. Once every system has in some form and deduplication is broadly available, what do we do next to optimize storage? After all, storage growth isn't going to stop and while deduplication and compression will slow some of that growth we know that files will continue to get larger and the number of files that are created will increase.
Cleversafe: Making Information Safe Inside And Outside The Cloud
Commentary  |  8/3/2010  | 
Cloud computing attracts a lot of attention, but it is also being examined closely for whether it meets specific business requirements. Data security tops executive concerns, but other issues such as availability and scalability are often mentioned as well. Cleversafe has come up with a very interesting approach that addresses these and other issues. Founded in 2004, Cleversafe is a small (about 40 employees) company headquartered in Chicago. The focus of its hardware is on data protection with


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