BlueArc: The Game Has Changed

CEO urges storage admins to relinguish the old model to solve today's problems

September 13, 2006

3 Min Read
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BURLINGAME, Calif. -- StoragePlus -- Today's storage administrators need to think more like base jumpers and get off the ledge, BlueArc Corp. CEO Mike Gustafson said in his keynote at StoragePlus here today.

His reference to those intrepid souls who jump off buildings or bridges with parachutes was metaphorical, of course. According to Gustafson, getting the most from a storage environment today requires a new approach -- much like base jumping is a different and faster way of reaching the ground than taking the stairs.

"We're not necessarily addicted to adrenaline," Gustafson says. "It's not like we choose to be base jumpers. But if that's the game we're in, we better look at the types of tools and choices we have."

Gustafson says storage administrators today face more decisions than ever when it comes to doing things like optimizing databases, Web servers, or backup and archiving. They also face more hurdles in the form of data growth, performance bottlenecks, device proliferation, scalability limits, and extra costs of applications and licenses.

He says the old way of approaching storage was like it was chess -- a game of strategy and planning in a controlled setting. And if storage managers approach things the way they did a decade ago, they will fail."It is a new world, it's a new game and there are new rules," Gustafson said. "The data is going to grow, we can't stop it. The easiest answer is to buy one [system], then buy another, then buy another and another. That was the right solution a decade ago, but not today. This is not a good model."

The right model includes server consolidation, tiered storage, centralized file systems, and reduced data duplication. But Gustafson says the best approach now is to look at the storage infrastructure from the standpoint of a company's business objectives.

"When we talk to customers about virtualization, there are so many technical definitions," he says. "We try to get to the business challenges you're trying to address. Virtualization can be viewed from the server side, the storage side, the file side, and it is viewed from all those sides. We start with the application: What are you trying to accomplish?"

Gustafson avoided a blatant sales pitch, but he did point out how BlueArc's NAS customers put the technology to use to do things they couldn't do years ago.

He cited the oil and gas exploration company sending ships on oceans around the world that are mini-data centers so data does not have to be brought back onshore to be analyzed. "The captain of a ship is now heading an IT operation," he says.There are media and entertainment companies who collectively spend millions of dollars a year "to create new products, new services, new industries, and new business models" with some of the most powerful computers in the world.

Storage systems also help drive research in life sciences, geometrics, and pharmaceuticals by searching and indexing more data than ever before.

"Chevron just discovered a brand new oil reserve," he says. "They would not be able to do that if they used technology from 10 years ago. Hopefully that will help us out with cost of fuel."

Well, don't hold your breath on that one. That's like expecting a base jumper to forget his parachute and land safely.

Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch0

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