Commentary
Content posted in September 2010
The Case For Outbound Filtering
Commentary  |  9/30/2010  | 
We filter and block what comes into our networks, but often forget about what goes out. Attackers know this, and their attack plans even rely on it. Malware that has compromised an internal machine is often programmed to connect to a command-and-control system that resides outside the enterprise. And of course, attackers use outbound connections to transmit stolen data to their own repositories.
All Snapshots Are Not Created Equal
Commentary  |  9/30/2010  | 
Over the past decade or so, snapshots have become a standard feature of disk arrays, volume managers, file systems and even PCI RAID controllers. The pitch from vendors of these products is pretty much the same: "With our technology you can take a snapshot in just a second or so and it will hold only the changed blocks, taking up much less disk space than a full copy." While that statement may typically be true, there are big differences in snapshot implementations.
Mergers & Acquisitions: Rumors, Truths And Fantasies
Commentary  |  9/29/2010  | 
Today IBM announced that they are swallowing Blade Network Technologies, a manufacturer of Ethernet switches for the blade enclosure and top of rack markets. Terms weren't announced, but the purchase has fueled the rumor mills that have been in high gear since the HP-Dell bidding war over 3Par.
Building Reliability Into IT
Commentary  |  9/27/2010  | 
There's a lot to like about Twitter; for me, the interesting discussions that crop up are a main draw. This was especially true recently, regarding a conversation about the foundations and premises of cloud computing. The discussion (sorry, I have yet to find a way to retrieve an entire Twitter thread) started with Sam Johnston saying "Legacy: unreliable software on reliable hardware. Cloud: reliable software on unreliable hardware." That's the kind of loaded statement Johnston likes to throw o
Avaya Flare: Eye Candy For Your CEO
Commentary  |  9/24/2010  | 
Collaboration pundits got their drool opportunity last week with the introduction of Flare, Avaya's new communication tablet. For IT pros, Flare's real impact may have less to do what happens while in the hall and more at the desk. The Flare Experience, as Avaya calls is, a new kind of interface that will initially be available on the Avaya Desktop Video Device. Think of it as an iPad for business users.
Broadcom Doubles VMware CPU Efficiency
Commentary  |  9/24/2010  | 
A few weeks ago, VMware announced that vSphere 4.1 enables 10Gb iSCSI hardware offload in the Broadcom 957711 Converged NIC (C-NIC). Before VMware supported 10Gb iSCSI offload, data center managers connected their VMware servers to 10Gb iSCSI SANs using a combination of NIC hardware and fat iSCSI device drivers, a configuration where most of the iSCSI protocol processing is done by the VMware server. Now with vSphere 4.1, VMware supports the latest generation of converged C-NICs that use thin iS
It's Not The Same Old Block Storage
Commentary  |  9/24/2010  | 
As recently as the turn of the century, block storage was pretty simple. A controller joined a group of disk drives into a RAID set and then offered fixed slices of that RAID set up as logical volume or LUN. All the controller had to do to map a block in the volume to a physical location was calculate offset from the beginning of the RAIDset to the beginning of the volume and the RAID stripe. With features like thin provisioning, automatic tiering and data reduction via deduplication and compres
Cisco's Curious Choice For New High-Speed Wireless Bridges
Commentary  |  9/23/2010  | 
The 802.11 wireless standard includes bridging, and Cisco's history with wireless bridge products is long and distinguished. When Cisco purchased Aironet back in 1999, the networking giant started down the path towards what would become market domination in wired access and bridging, but Cisco hasn't been what anyone would call progressive when it comes to their wireless bridge product line.
Continuity Software Sets The Bar High For Disaster Recovery Testing
Commentary  |  9/23/2010  | 
After a major IT operational problem or even a disaster, getting applications working again with the data they need is vital to any enterprise (public, private or government). Yet how many enterprises could honestly raise their right hands in response to the question: Are you very confident in your business continuity plan? Those enterprises that use Continuity Software's RecoverGuard solution (and maybe a few other enterprise solutions) could honestly answer in the affirmative.
My Next Data Center: Server Console Access
Commentary  |  9/23/2010  | 
Over the years, I've used a wide variety of systems to access and manage the servers in the various data centers I've worked in. At the turn of the century we used CRT monitors and standard keyboards and mice on rack shelves with single user analog KVM (keyboard, video, Mouse) switches. Today most of the mid-market data centers I work in have pull out LCD consoles with touchpads in each rack, but I'm starting to think it's time for a big change.
Verizon CEO: No iPhone Yet
Commentary  |  9/23/2010  | 
Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg said he hopes Apple will allow Verizon to sell the iPhone once its LTE network is up and running.
Tablets And Desktop Virtualization
Commentary  |  9/23/2010  | 
Last month, I discussed how solid state storage's biggest area for growth may have nothing to do with enterprise storage, it may be the emerging tablet/slate market, based largely on the success of the Apple iPad. In that entry, I promised to cover what I think is going to be an even bigger winner if tablet adoption continues: desktop virtualization.
First Impressions Of Android 2.2 On Droid X
Commentary  |  9/22/2010  | 
After the Android 2.2 Froyo update is installed, users of the Motorola Droid X should notice vastly improved performance of the smartphone.
RIM's BlackPad, BlackBerries To Use New OS
Commentary  |  9/22/2010  | 
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Research In Motion plans to debut its tablet next week with a brand new operating system.
Android 2.2 Now Available For Motorola Droid X
Commentary  |  9/22/2010  | 
Verizon Wireless has made Android 2.2 Froyo available to the Motorola Droid X. Rather than offer it over-the-air, Verizon is allowing Droid X owners to download it manually.
Gmail For Android Gains Priority Inbox
Commentary  |  9/21/2010  | 
Google today announced an updated version of the Gmail application for its Android platform. The new version of Gmail adds several features, including Priority Inbox.
MetroPCS Beats Verizon To LTE Punch
Commentary  |  9/21/2010  | 
No-contract wireless provider MetroPCS has launched the first Long Term Evolution 4G network in the U.S., starting with Las Vegas. It is also offering the first LTE phone for $299.
Dealing With The Vendor End-Around
Commentary  |  9/20/2010  | 
In his recent blog, Mike Workman, CEO of Pillar Data Systems, offers an example of what is commonly called the "end-around." This is when a larger vendor will leverage a relationship at the VP or CxO level to stop a lower level person from selecting a more innovative product from a new and smaller vendor. Instead of getting stung by this tactic, there are steps that you can take as the IT Manager, project manager or even the evaluator to keep it from happening.
Apple Approves Two Google Voice Apps For iPhone
Commentary  |  9/20/2010  | 
Apple has given the green light to two third-party applications that let iPhone users interact directly with their Google Voice accounts.
Yes Virginia There Is Politics In IT
Commentary  |  9/20/2010  | 
It's become clear over the past year or so that we are in the first phases of the biggest change in data center architecture since we settled on Intel servers and Ethernet switching a 15 or so years ago. I'm afraid that, as usual, the geek squad is paying too much attention to how cool the new technology is and not enough to the politics of change.
Google's BlackBerry Search App Updated
Commentary  |  9/17/2010  | 
Google updated the search application for Research In Motion's BlackBerry platform. The new software lets users search their device as well as the cloud.
Stopgaps Are Forever: Virtual Tape Libraries
Commentary  |  9/17/2010  | 
I was somewhat surprised by Quantum's introduction last month of a new deduplicating Virtual Tape Library (VTL). Ever since backup applications started universally supporting backup-to-disk, I've wondered how long the virtual tape library market would continue to be viable. Treating disk like tape adds complexity to the data path, and VTL vendors make a significant markup on the software and integration that turns a server with a bunch of disk drives into a VTL. Are storage admins really so cons
First Impressions Of Samsung's Galaxy Tab
Commentary  |  9/17/2010  | 
Samsung launched the Galaxy Tab in the U.S. market with a big event in New York City. Can the Android 2.2-powered tablet take on Apple's iPad?
AT&T Says LTE Roll-Out Coming Mid-2011
Commentary  |  9/16/2010  | 
An AT&T executive said Thursday that its 4G Long Term Evolution network is scheduled for a launch by the middle of 2011.
MOTO CEO: Android Tablet Due Early 2011
Commentary  |  9/16/2010  | 
Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha recently indicated the the company is working on an Android tablet device that it hopes to release early in 2011.
Crunching The Virtualization Numbers
Commentary  |  9/16/2010  | 
Network engineers are doing a good job of handling virtualization in their environments. Yes, you heard that right. There are some performance problems, but the adjustment from physical to virtual servers has not resulted in a large uptick in the key Layer 2 KPIs that we use to quantify LAN performance. That means that the cries from application teams about the LAN under-performing now that servers and their corresponding applications are virtualized is not based in fact. So, let's look at some
Symbian's Upgrade Path Might Lead Nowhere
Commentary  |  9/15/2010  | 
Nokia announced its latest operating system this week at Nokia World. Symbian^3 will appear on a number of smartphones due this year. But what is its future?
Up, Up, And Away With Meru Networks And Aircell
Commentary  |  9/15/2010  | 
Putting network connectivity in the hands of airline passengers is not a new idea. Back in 2001, I spent considerable time talking with Boeing's Connexion team about their new on-board client access initiative. With a BS in Aeronautics and a career in IT, I couldn't get enough of the story about networks that streak across the sky. Unfortunately, Boeing ultimately couldn't make a profitable go of it, using satellite modems and then-current wireless technology. Connexion quietly closed up shop in
HTC Reboots Top-End Android Phones
Commentary  |  9/15/2010  | 
HTC on Wednesday introduced two new Android handsets and a refreshed version of its Sense user interface, which now includes an online back-up component.
Verizon To Offer BlackBerry Curve 9330 For $30
Commentary  |  9/14/2010  | 
Verizon Wireless and Research In Motion on Tuesday announced the BlackBerry Curve 9330, which will be able to run RIM's new BlackBerry 6 operating system.
Which Large Company Is The Most Innovative?
Commentary  |  9/14/2010  | 
The recent frenzy caused by the HP-Dell-3Par bidding war was really all about innovation. The company being sought after, 3Par, was being bought at a premium because of their innovative storage products. One of the challenges that faces large IT manufacturers is can they keep innovating as they become larger or are they destined to buy smaller companies that are innovative? A question that was posed to me last month was, which large company is the most innovative?
VMworld 2010: Taking Virtual Roads To The Cloud
Commentary  |  9/13/2010  | 
VMworld 2010 in San Francisco was, by any measure, a great success. The 17,000+ total attendance was up significantly compared to last year's 12,500. A crowd that size does not descend upon a conference unless there is something really compelling going on. If so, what is that? Let's start with VMware's vision of virtualization and then see why customers likely feel compelled to follow the company's path.
Primary Storage Deduplication: NetApp
Commentary  |  9/13/2010  | 
One of the first entrants into primary storage deduplication market was NetApp, with their Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS, commonly known as NetApp deduplication). To my knowledge, NetApp was first to provide deduplication of active storage as opposed to data that had been previously stored. NetApp deduplication has certainly gained traction within the NetApp customer base, recently claiming that more than 87,000 deduped storage systems have been deployed with about 12,000 customers ben
Oracle's Exec Swap Portends Near-Term Change
Commentary  |  9/10/2010  | 
Mark Hurd is in at Oracle, and Charles Phillips is out. Based on the company's track record, that could signal that a major acquisition or other big move is imminent.
Cloud Is About Technology
Commentary  |  9/10/2010  | 
I continue to hear the question "what is cloud" being asked by people who are pretty well versed in IT. I am talking about people who are working in various levels of IT today and have been for years. I also hear many professionals (vendors, analysts, press, experts, bloggers, etc) who have been involved and following the cloud cycle lamenting that every article, presentation, paper and blog has to define cloud, that all the definitions of cloud are different, and these professionals are tired o
NetApp And Oracle Make Nice Over ZFS
Commentary  |  9/10/2010  | 
NetApp has let slip an announcement that they and Oracle have settled the patent lawsuits over Zettabyte File System (ZFS), which Oracle acquired with Sun. NetApp sued Sun back in 2007, alleging that ZFS violated several of NetApp's Write Anywhere File Layout (WAFL) patents. Sun of course counter-sued, and it looked like a whole lot of lawyers were going to be able to make their boat payments for a while. The terms are confidential, so we really don't know what happened, and the twit-o-blog-o-sp
Are The Networking Leaders Ready For A Shakeup?
Commentary  |  9/10/2010  | 
Being the market leader has its advantages. You set the agenda, for instance, but every so often the agenda is driven by outside forces. In technology, this happens when a new standard is going to become widely adopted, and at that point there is a chance for one of the third or forth-place companies to become the new leader. We saw this when storage area networking came to prominence, and we may be seeing it again as we potentially reach the end of spanning tree protocol (STP).
Google Voice Gains Widgets On Android Smartphones
Commentary  |  9/9/2010  | 
Google on Thursday refreshed the Google Voice application for the Android platform. As part of the refresh, Google added two new widgets that make interacting with Google Voice easier.
The Deal On FCoE
Commentary  |  9/9/2010  | 
In the 500 or so years it feels like I've been working with computers of one sort or another, I've noticed that shiny new technologies follow similar trajectories. With FCoE, we've reached what Gartner calls the "Peak of Inflated Expectations," and what I call the "ATM Can Fix Everything" moment, named after the timely combination of IBM introducing desktop ATM cards and a Visa commercial in the mid 1990s. As we head towards the "Trough of Disillusionment" we need to take a good hard look at whe
Keep An Eye On Cius
Commentary  |  9/9/2010  | 
Back in June, Cisco's John Chambers announced development of Cisco's own tablet PC, the Cius. There was a lot of initial head scratching and a fair amount of "uh... what is Cisco doing now?" reaction, but then the idea took seed and gained traction in the media. Cisco VP Barry O'Sullivan told Forbes how the Cius could replace mobile and desktop phones--and even desktop computers--in the business setting. Bloggers blogged, and Cius's mystique continued to build. But, that was then, when the produ
Mathias On Mobility: The Wireless LAN Architecture Question
Commentary  |  9/8/2010  | 
Should the control plane be centralized or distributed, and should data from the Access Point flow through the controller?
What Will Dell Do Now?
Commentary  |  9/8/2010  | 
For a company that prides itself on listening to its customers and delivering more than just what meets requirements, EMC received the message loud and clear from Dell about what the company is looking for in an enterprise class storage product: like a 3Par InServ. Can EMC deliver an enterprise storage array for Dell? Will Dell select a new acquisition target? Now that HP has won the bidding war, what will Dell do now?
FalconStor VDI Solution: Economics And Performance
Commentary  |  9/8/2010  | 
On August 24th, FalconStor announced their new NSS SAN Accelerator for VMware Virtual Desk Top Environments, and Network Computing covered it here. FalconStor briefed me on this solution prior to their announcement, and I was impressed with it. FalconStor has been developing some highly creative storage solutions, and I thought it time to take a closer look at this one and spend some time talking with someone who is using it. To say that I was even more impressed with the FalconStor solution aft
Lessons Learned From 3Par & Data Domain
Commentary  |  9/7/2010  | 
In the past two years, we have been privy to two exciting bidding wars that ended in two-billion dollar payouts for both 3Par and Data Domain. Despite the fact that they were in two different ends of the storage market, there is a lot to be learned from both of these companies. The key factor is that both companies focused on the task at hand. They essentially did one thing really well. In the case of 3Par, it was simplifying block storage in the enterprise, and in the case of Data Domain, it wa
Yes, You Can Automate IT. No, You Can't Avoid It.
Commentary  |  9/3/2010  | 
It's been coming for a long time now. Automating your data center is emerging in a big way. You can't avoid it, you can only put it off for a while, but sooner or later, it's going to happen. I am not talking about piddly automation functions like distributing software and patches or moving a virtual machine from one hypervisor to another. I'm talking about event-based automation where the actions you would have initiated manually are done automatically. Many of the objections I hear are that au
Virsto Virtualizes Storage I/O For Virtual Machines
Commentary  |  9/2/2010  | 
Back in February of this year, Virsto launched their "Virsto One" storage virtualization software product. Much was written about Virsto at that time, and they were covered here on Network Computing. I had the unique opportunity to sit down and talk with Mark Davis, CEO of Virsto, in San Francisco this week while we were both in town for VMworld. Virsto is virtualizing storage in Microsoft Hyper-V based environments. A key question for Mark was why release storage virtualization in the Hyper-V s
DocuSign Goes Mobile
Commentary  |  9/2/2010  | 
I recently caught up with Tom Gosner, VP and chief strategy officer of DocuSign. Given the advantages of digital signature technology--paperless transactions handled securely and rapidly with legally binding electronic signatures--DocuSign's core service is a natural fit for today's mobile business world. As I watch everyone from salespeople to execs hit the road while doing business out of the palm of their hands, I wanted Gosner's perspective on how digital signatures are being received by tho
Everyone Wants To Be The IBM Of Old
Commentary  |  9/1/2010  | 
As the 3PAR bidding war comes to a close, it seems time to examine the larger trend amongst IT manufacturers to go back to the future and recreate Thomas Watson's IBM or Ken Olsen's Digital Equipment Corporation, providing soup-to-nuts IT equipment and services. While some other members of the IT chattering class have been concentrating on the integration of vertical stacks of storage, compute and networking, I see an even bigger trend including a broader set of hardware, software and services.
Dealing With VMware's I/O Challenges
Commentary  |  9/1/2010  | 
One of the key themes at VMworld this week is dealing with the I/O challenges that a physical host loaded up with a dozen or more virtual machines places on the storage and the storage infrastructure. This is caused by consolidating hundreds of I/O friendly stand alone systems into a few dozen hosts. While virtualization reduces the number of physical servers, it now makes every server an I/O nightmare.


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