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Cisco and NetApp Update FlexPod For Big Data

New FlexPod designs also support branch offices; Riverbed updates Steelhead, RiOS; Dell updates SonicOS; EfficientIP releases new network management tool; Metalogix launches SharePoint tool.

Cisco and NetApp’s converged data center joint venture has expanded its FlexPod portfolio with new validated designs, including support for data-intensive workloads with FlexPod Select. The portfolio is also targeting midsize businesses and branch offices with FlexPod Express (previously known as ExpressPod) and enterprise data centers with FlexPod Data Center (formerly known as just FlexPod).

The first piece of the portfolio to address targeted workloads such as high-performance applications, FlexPod Select will initially focus on meeting the data-intensive requirements of Hadoop-based apps in financial services, government and other sectors. FlexPod Select includes Cisco UCS C-Series Servers, Cisco Nexus Switches and Cisco management software, along with NetApp E-Series and FAS storage systems. Two validated configurations for Hadoop are available so far: one with Cloudera’s Distribution including Apache Hadoop and the other with Hortonworks Data Platform.

Tony Lock, program director and analyst with Freeform Dynamics, says there is a growing need for infrastructures that support big data, but what’s more notable is FlexPod’s attention to midsize enterprises and branch offices. Whether it’s dubbed converged data center or converged systems, Lock says, enterprises of all sizes are interested in systems that combine networking, storage and servers with a management layer on top as they look to consolidate, simplify and automate their data centers.

Lock says a big part of the value proposition of FlexPod and similar products is that all of the components are pulled together, tested and validated by the vendors on an ongoing basis, so the customer doesn’t have to. “Integration is always a pain for everyone, and keeping it updated over the years is a lot of effort," he says.

The updates to FlexPod come on the heels of Extreme Networks ramping up its converged data center efforts with its EMC VSPEX validation.

Technology Business Research’s recent Converged Infrastructure Landscape Report estimates that U.S. enterprises will spend more than $3.8 billion in the next 12 months on converged systems, based on a survey of more than 400 IT and line-of-business decision makers at midsize and large enterprises.

Riverbed Targets Branch Offices, Rolls Out New RiOS

Riverbed Technology is expanding the capabilities of its Steelhead WAN optimization product line with a new hardware appliance and updates to its Steelhead software aimed at helping enterprises to accelerate a wider array of infrastructures, including cloud and hybrid networks.

Riverbed’s new Steelhead CX 255 series appliance has three times the throughput of its predecessors--the CX 150 and 250--with up to 6 Mbps bandwidth capacity, the company says. The product is designed for branch offices.

On the software side, Riverbed added path selection to RiOS 8.5, with the goal of making it easier to manage hybrid MPLS and Internet networks. RiOS is designed to provide more detailed insight into usage and performance by using path selection in combination with deep packet inspection-based application identification. The latest version of RiOS is also integrated with Riverbed’s Cascade Profiler 10.0.7 for more detailed application-level profiles. This will enable organizations to identify, prioritize and adjust QoS parameters to appropriate route business-critical applications and lower-priority Web traffic.

Managing and optimizing branch offices WANs is a significant challenge for IT. Last year’s InformationWeek Next-Generation WAN Survey found that 44% of respondents are tasked with connecting 16 or more branch or remote offices to headquarters or primary data centers, and more than half spend 11% or more of their IT budgets on wide area connectivity.

[A cloud-based WAN optimization service helped a gas transport company put an end to frozen video and dropped calls. Read how in "WAN Optimization Improves Videoconferencing At Shipping Firm.]

The Steelhead CX series 255 appliances, RiOS 8.5 and Cascade Profliler 10.0.7 are expected to be available in the third quarter.

Dell makes major updates to SonicOS

Dell announced the most extensive update to its SonicWALL SonicOS since buying SonicWALL last year. The company has added 45 new features to SonicOS 5.9 for SonicWALL Next-Generation Firewall and Unified Threat Management, including added protection for IPv6 networks. SonicOS is a core component of all Dell SonicWALL firewalls, including the SuperMassive line.

The new SonicOS 5.9 supports deep packet inspection of IPv6 traffic flows to protect against intrusions and malware in IPv4, IPv6 or mixed environments. It also applies deep packet inspection to wireless traffic. Additional wireless network features include the ability to apply traffic quotas, as well as improved administration for guest services to balance user experience and access. Other additions include a new command-line interface, support for SNMPv3, and improvements to both the logging engine and bandwidth management engine.

Customers with valid support contracts for Dell SonicWALL NGFWs or UTM appliances can move to the SonicOS 5.9 at no additional cost.

EfficientIP Adds Device Manager

The latest version of EfficientIP’s SOLIDserver network service management tool includes a new product, Device Manager; the vendor is calling the combination SmartDDI (DNS, DHCP and IP Address Management). Customers can use the products to manage devices and network interfaces with DNS/DHCP/IPAM and VLANs/VRF in a single process. The company says pulling these tools together is aimed at helping enterprises support data center virtualization, BYOD and the transition to IPv6.

EfficientIP’s SOLIDserver IPAM integrates with various DNS and DHCP infrastructure, including Microsoft and Open Source-Bind DNS and DHCP ISC services, for centralized management of IP addresses. SOLIDserver also works with the company's IPLocator tool, which allows enterprises to discover, track and reconcile IP address connections.

While many organizations have relied on simple spreadsheets to keep track of IP addresses, the transition to IPv6 and the demand for more addresses driven by BYOD will make this approach less feasible. However, an InformationWeek IPv6 survey of 681 business technology professionals found deployment of IPv6 among organizations is slow. For example, 22% say they will adopt IPv6 within one to two years, while another 38% have no plans to run IPv6 for the foreseeable future.

Late last year, SolarWinds added support for Microsoft DHCP and DNS, Cisco DHCP and Cisco Adaptive Security Appliances to its IP Address Manager software. Other IPAM options include BlueCat Networks' Proteus IPAM software, as well as the physical or virtual appliance approach offered by Infoblox, which also offers free software for enterprises with fewer than 1,000 employees.

Metalogix Launches SharePoint Storage Tool

Metalogix released what it said is the first product to integrate storage, backup and recovery for Microsoft SharePoint collaboration software with the release of Metalogix StoragePoint 4.2, which includes automated backup and content restoration. The company also introduced StoragePoint Express, which allows organizations to use the product for free for up to 200 Gbytes of content.

The latest version of StoragePoint allows organizations to configure automated backups on-premise or to the cloud using Remote Binary Large Objects (BLOBs) storage to offload unstructured content such as Office documents and rich media files from SQL Server to lower-cost storage tiers. By externalizing BLOBs, Metalogix says, organizations can shrink content databases and reduce backup times. StoragePoint 4.2 improves restoration by allowing recovery of deleted, lost or corrupted content at the item level.

Metalogix’s own recent 2012 survey of 100 SharePoint administrators and architects found that half of respondents have more than 1 Tbyte of content in their SharePoint environment and that the average user saw nearly 75% content growth in the past year. Approximately 64% of respondents were looking to upgrade to SharePoint 2013 with six months to a year.

However, research by Forrester released last year suggests Microsoft’s collaboration tool is entering its “awkward teenage years” as enterprises struggle to unite and manage social, cloud and mobile content.

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