No Spring Break for These Solid-state Vendors – Nimbus, Pure Storage, QLogic, and SolidFire

While I enjoyed Spring Break with my family, there was plenty of activity in the world of solid-state vendors. I’ve chosen just a few examples of many that happened during the latter parts of March; thematically aside, they all support my contention...which is that—much like the school year—the start up/grade-school solid-state storage world (on which this entry is focused) is headed towards graduation.

As ever when I have a few vendors to mention, I’m going to do this alphabetically:

  • Nimbus introduced HALO 2013 OS. Yes, there are general management and functional improvements (necessary when its Gemini array now scales to 48TB in 2U) but the elements I want to highlight are that the new release goes big on extensive analytics, its open API, and mobile operation;
  • Pure now has its “Love Your Storage Guarantee.” Understanding that the jump to an all-flash array remains something of a leap of faith, Pure has introduced a very straightforward 30 day guarantee—it’s something like a Nordstrom approach; there’s no need to explain why you don’t like it (if that happens), just return it—it's "try it, you'll like it" without strings;
  • QLogic delivers FabicCache. Although QLogic isn’t a start-up in the traditional sense, it has (gotta keep my theme going!) returned to school. Like many mature students, it has decided to address a pretty obvious problem that others have mainly only talked about. FabricCache can share its solid-state cache performance enhancements across all the servers on a SAN, providing significant flexibility and financial advantage;
  • SolidFire promoted its guaranteed QoS for applications running on its systems in cloud provider environments. ESG’s research has shown that performance concerns are more of an issue for actual users of the cloud than for those thinking about it, so providing such assurance matters.
Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

Net of Networking Blog

Hi All,

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Networking

Social Media Drives Continuous Marketing

I can remember planning out product marketing campaigns in the past. They played out like a story with a beginning, middle, and end. First, we determined the audience, crafted a message, and developed content for various media outlets-—in my case, print and websites. Then we would place the content, both advertising and articles, in the outlets and wait. Finally, we would see how well we did usually by looking (hopefully) at an increase of leads tied to the sources—the various outlets—we had placed content in. This was an expensive and laborious process but followed a fairly simple blueprint of plan, message, create, place, and evaluate. The same process could be applied to trade shows as well, where the costs were higher but the feedback more immediate.

The downside to this process was twofold. First, if something was wrong in our message or content, we didn’t find out about it until too late. We could change our web ads, keywords, and the like but that assumed that we could even tell that something wasn’t working in time for meaningful change. Waiting for leads to come in (or not) and doing surveys was too slow a process. The second challenge was that there was no way to leverage influencers and most methods of amplification were fairly costly. In other words, we couldn’t pivot quickly enough and didn’t have the information to even know we needed to.

Topics: Enterprise Mobility

The Feds Are Going Vertical!

General Dynamics (GD)is one of the top 5 defense contractors in the world and is a well known system integrator in government circles. GD’s information systems prowess covers all five of the domains known to mankind (space, land, air, sea, and cyber).

Since the federal government initiated the "cloud first" program, government agencies as well as their suppliers have been trying to find ways to construct cloud services that meet their special needs. Due to these special requirements, public clouds may not fit the bill but community or private clouds offer some of the advantages of cloud services (on-demand, self-service, pay-for-what-you-use, etc.) while having specialized security controls.

Topics: Cloud Services & Orchestration

Network Security Trumps Server Security in the Enterprise

There is a historical conundrum in cybersecurity about where to concentrate security skills, controls, and oversight. Hackers penetrate networks in order to compromise hosts and steal data. Given this obvious workflow, should CISOs focus security resources on networks, hosts, or a balanced combination of both?

Topics: Cybersecurity

Vertical Storms Brewing in the Clouds

Last week I was on the road visiting some of our customers down south as well as at a speaking engagement for our friends at ClearEdge Partners. The trip took me to awesome Austin as well as Phoenix, Arizona. Both places definitely have great weather this time of year as well as awesome BBQ!

Topics: Cloud Services & Orchestration

VCs Jumping Back Into Security Investments

It’s a herd mentality out on Sand Hill Rd. Over the past few years, VCs shied away from many infrastructure and security companies, preferring to bet on cloud computing, mobile computing, and social networking startups.

Now that these markets are saturated and somewhat stagnant, VCs have returned to the information security market like the swallows of Capistrano. According to PWC and the National Venture Capital Association, security funding in 2012 was up 60% over dollars committed in 2010. Judging by the crowds at the RSA Conference in February, I’m sure that VC investment will grow precipitously in 2013 as well.

Topics: Cybersecurity

With Social Collaboration, Start Small

It’s pretty clear that social collaboration tools, especially enterprise social networks, have been struggling to find wider corporate acceptance. Recent ESG research shows that the knowledge workers in general don’t see or anticipate social collaboration tools having much impact on their ability to collaborate. This lack of enthusiasm was seen across companies of different sizes, different roles, and between different industries. There have been success stories but Facebook-like social collaboration features are struggling to transition from the early adopters to the mainstream. In the survey, ESG found 40% of those respondents that had access to an enterprise social network never used it at all. Only 13% said they used it daily. That is clearly not the type of usage data one wants to see in software with “network” in the title.

Why is that? Social collaboration software clearly has a lot to offer, especially for an increasingly mobile and virtual workforce. IT professionals certainly think so, citing reasons such as greater efficiency and the ability to collaborate across departmental and geographic lines for installing social collaboration tools in the first place. Yet even IT professionals recognized that there has been resistance from the rank and file knowledge workers, mirroring what knowledge workers themselves are saying.

Topics: Enterprise Mobility

Building a Private Cloud - Where's the Instruction Manual?!?!?!

EMC’s early challenges included long provisioning times, low storage and CPU utilization, not enough data center space or power, and an IT staff overwhelmed by growing demand. Sound familiar?

A lot of their success is summed up in the graphic below, which shows progress from 2004 and continuing into the future. I’ll stick to the highlights : EMC saved $66M in OPEX and $157M in CAPEX, reduced CO2 emissions by 100M lbs, and has increased both productivity and agility.

Topics: IT Infrastructure Cloud Services & Orchestration ESG Validation Services

Howard Stern and Steve Jobs, and Why Storage Needs To Become Like a Nest Thermostat

I'm a huge Howard fan. I thoroughly enjoy people that hate him, yet cannot articulate why except to say "he is disgusting." In reality he isn't disgusting at all, he's brilliant. He makes others talk about disgusting things perhaps, but to not appreciate his genius, to me anyhow, is boorishly close minded.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

Is the World Ready for the Intersection of Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Network Security?

A few years ago, software-defined networking (SDN) was an esoteric concept driven by academics. Some networking vendors were intrigued but many looked at it as nothing more than a science project. Fast forward to 2013 and networking vendors are tripping over each other to pledge their SDN support and crow about their SDN strategies.

Topics: Cybersecurity Networking

Sanbolic - Puts The Public Cloud In Your Living Room?

The cloud in your living room? Well, maybe not literally…but this is indeed the idea behind the latest Melio5 release from Sanbolic. The rather more restrained terminology that Sanbolic actually uses in its announcement talks about its users being able to achieve "public cloud economics" in an on-premises deployment. [I enjoy using the word "restrained" in the same sentence as Sanbolic because—as anyone who knows its enigmatic CEO, Memo Michailov, will know—"restrained" is not the first word that comes to mind!]. Of course the recipe for public cloud economics is plastered all over the monthly business glossies and the IT blogosphere: The ingredients are a base of commodity storage hardware, enrobed in the smart specialist storage management software that your uber-smart technogeeks wrote. The trouble has been—for regular mortal companies—that getting the two things together has been extremely tough. Traditional storage companies don’t want to separate the two items, because even when they are actually packaging commodity hardware elements, they want to make margin on the "smarts"; and, sure, you can certainly buy some JBODs and Flash for yourself but writing the code is hardly a quick job that you fit in around March Madness on evenings and weekends.

The missing link is what Melio5 provides. Keeping with our recipe theme, Sanbolic has done all the hard preparation and [secret] sauce work for you—you just need to add water and eggs! To be a little more precise, you can use pretty much any hardware that you have, or add. At this point I am so much wanting to write the words "software-defined storage" because this is really a perfect example in my book—but Sanbolic did a bang-up job of steadfastly avoiding the term in all its materials that I’d hate to spoil it for them! What I shall say is that there are clearly shifts in the IT world that are both moving in favor of—and helping to enable and demand—what Sanbolic is doing.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Cloud Services & Orchestration

From Desktop to Datacenter to Cloud (D2DC2C)

Yesterday ESG got to sit in on the VMware announcement of its new Hybrid Cloud Services offering. As I understand it, VMware is going to manage and run Hybrid cloud services (IaaS) that are owned by its Partners. On the surface, this allows the company that has the expertise in its own products to build and manage true VMware cloud services and in the process create a global footprint of VMware Certified IaaS clouds that can compete with Amazon, Rackspace, and Microsoft.

Topics: Networking Cloud Services & Orchestration

ODA X3-2 or is that ODA 2X?

First, a clarification for the three letter acronym and engineered system brand name challenged: ODA = Oracle Database Appliance, with the latest version being Oracle Database Appliance X3-2. If you thought the Oracle Database Appliance was the Oracle Exadata Database Machine, well, customers could use ODA and Exadata similarly, but there have always been differences, and the differences have grown even clearer given Oracle’s unveiling of ODA X3-2 about a week ago. A mini-comparison follows:

Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI Enterprise Mobility

Information Security Services Continue to Prosper --Dramatically Yet Quietly

Like all other areas of IT, security professionals tend to be computer science nerds. We love to talk about hardware and software advancement and how it will impact the challenges around the security triad of confidentiality, integrity, and availability. As always, this geeky tendency was on display at the RSA security conference in late February as the industry buzzed about things like streaming processing, Hadoop clusters, new authentication protocols, etc.

Topics: Cybersecurity

Industry Musings: HP the Winner?, Oracle and Storage, Grid, EMC Lobs Bomb at Fusion

I went to HP's analyst day(s) event last week. I rarely go to analyst days, because A: they tend to be in far off places and anything I can do to avoid an airplane these days is a victory, and B: there are way to many analysts at them. I went to this because HP is nice enough to have them in Boston. I'm still working on having them eliminate the analysts from the event.

Topics: Storage

In Closing: Four Strata Winners Address Sort and R

In a previous blog I fashioning-hadoop-distributions-for-the-enterprise-strata-sphere/index.html" target="_blank">examined the new Hadoop distributions that were unveiled around the time of the Strata Santa Clara 2013 conference. Not wanting to give short shrift to other announcements around the conference, here are four other winning and/or particularly creative unveilings. Note that not every related announcement was listed on the Strata Santa Clara 2013 home page, and not every announcement came out through a press release. My winners had to do with two subtle but fundamental subjects in the big data space, sorting, and R. Without further ado:

Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI

What’s Old Is New Again In Information Security

For many years, the RSA Conference was all about the new new thing. New threats, new compliance mandates, new technologies, etc. At the same time, the industry intelligentsia dismissed staple security technologies like endpoint security and firewalls as boring commodities.

Topics: Cybersecurity

Making HP Matter

It’s perhaps odd that I chose the title I did for this blog. Obviously it’s a none-too-obscure play on words to HP’s current "Make it Matter" tagline….but it’s also an acknowledgement that even this $100+BN behemoth has had to stretch for relevance for a few years. From a leadership perspective, HP didn’t matter much for a while (even though many wanted and willed it to)—or at least that was the perception; and that was also sad for a company founded on a DNA of innovation.

Last week’s HP Analyst Event was something of a coming out for a newly confident and assertive HP. The event had skipped a year—testimony to the rough ride that preceded it. But, boy, did it now feel different. Having been to this event a few times, I’m always struck, and reminded, of just how BIG and diverse HP is—everything from 3PAR to Moonshot servers, and from tablets with Beats audio to toner. But my realization hasn’t always been a positive one, indeed in past years ‘big’ has seemed corporately almost powerless, and self-justifying. This year—and I don’t think it was just Kool Aid in the water fountains—"big" felt powerful, and confident.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

Matters of Integration in the Data Economy

At the Informatica analyst conference in Menlo Park, CA during the waning days of February, James Markarian, Informatica’s CTO, reignited a line of thinking for me around the concept of “The Data Economy” – my term, not his. You might legitimately ask, “How is the data economy any different than the information technology market?” My notion of data economy overlaps with what most would consider the IT market, which I will discuss below. But first here are a few of the viewpoints I accrued from Mr. Markarian’s talk, supplemented by some of my own viewpoints, which spawned my thinking about The Data Economy, and Informatica’s role therein:

  • Few organizations actually know precisely the data they possess – where, what, or why; e.g., there are massive quantities of data generated by organizations that are never or seldom used.
  • Typically, organizations seriously over-provision storage and related infrastructure for data – better safe than sorry, particularly if you don’t have a really good handle on your data.
  • The term “data science” is overstated, in that scientific principles are not part of a data scientist's practices – we might be better off using the term “data artist.” On one hand this is nitpicking over job titles, but it highlights how far we still have to go in terms of managing and applying our data.
  • The currently hot approach to big data analytics, Hadoop, (and some are now opining that Google’s open source Dremel may soon start out-Hadooping Hadoop) involves dumping all kinds of data into a solution designed to deal with over-provisioning and to compensate for lack of data understanding: Create three haystacks of data, and start looking for a needle. If you stripped the “Hadoop” off of the label, and told somebody that is how you were going to architect a solution for analytics, they might think you were crazy.

The summarized message goes something like this: Organizations would do well to invest in understanding their data to ensure that the right information arrives at the right time for the right people in the right context of consumption, and the practices to make this happen simultaneously decreased business risk and IT costs. The more far-reaching factor is that those organizations who get their arms around their data can better participate in the data economy. Here are some bread crumbs about the data economy:

Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI

HP wants to Make it Matter

Last week I attended the HP Industry Analyst Summit, a two day event in Boston to tell industry analysts what is going on at HP. This year’s summit had a very different feeling from the last one I attended two years ago.

The differences were clear right from the beginning. Meg Whitman took the stage and gave a forthright and honest assessment of where HP was and what they needed to do. A couple of key takeaways included her bringing back some of the founder's culture – more specifically, HP innovation. This year they actually increased the R&D budget and are dedicated to driving more innovation from within HP. She also admitted that there is still more work to do and laid out their 5 year plan (now one year into it). Most refreshing was her energy and genuine enthusiasm for HP, something that, throughout the week, one couldn’t help but notice seemed to permeate through the entire company.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Networking

2013 Q1/Q2 CSP and CSM Research Agenda

Since I’ve only been here at ESG for a little over 2 months it has taken me a while to get up to speed on some things. Fortunately for me – the team here has been incredibly supportive. One of my core tasks as an analyst is to perform and publish research. Over the past few months I’ve been heads down working on some cool research of my own and also working with some of the other analysts here. Below is an overview of what is coming out in the next couple of weeks as well as the early part of Q2.

2013 IT Cloud Spending Intentions

Topics: Cloud Services & Orchestration

The Bad and Ugly at RSA 2013

I was pretty happy with last week’s RSA Conference and blogged about some of my positive impressions earlier this week. It’s good to see the industry discussing the state of cybersecurity, current challenges, and promising innovation. Still, the RSA Conference is a trade show and trade shows are all about selling products.

The capitalist nature of the security industry was on display in several misguided ways with:

  1. Magic bullet products. In spite of the fact that organizations spend billions of dollars on security technologies and still get hacked, several vendors pitched their products as rock-solid defense against attack. Huh? I thought security was a process and not a product. The best any product can do is lower risk in a particular area, so this type of rhetoric is offensive to experienced security professionals and does the entire industry a disservice.
  2. Unclear terminology. We industry analysts share the blame here with vendor marketing. For example, I had several discussions with vendors and security professionals about “next-generation firewalls.” In each case, the definition of a “next-generation firewall” was slightly different. Yes, this may just be poetic marketing license but it leads to confusion – like enterprises putting “next-generation firewalls” in front of web application servers believing that they have sophisticated WAF capabilities (they don’t). Security technologies are different from Ethernet switches and servers that are used to protect valuable assets. As such, we owe it to our customers to provide clear and concise definitions of what some product does and doesn’t do.
  3. Industry disconnect with users. I get the feeling that a lot of security technology vendors spend hours a day in internal meetings but never talk to customers. For example, there are a lot of new security analytics technologies coming out which I view as a good thing. Unfortunately, almost no one is telling users what to look for in terms of network traffic, file types, locations, behavior, that may indicate a compromise. I get that some users know exactly what to look for but the vast majority don’t. Security analytics technologies need to be complemented with services, reference architectures, training, and canned rule sets or many will become highly-sophisticated boat anchors.
  4. Security community disconnect with Washington. Highly-experienced and brilliant security professionals in Washington seem to think that the world ends outside the Beltway. This is a crying shame since: A) The Feds have a lot of knowledge and resources, and B) Our tax dollars are going to waste on an inwardly-focused cybersecurity culture. After one panel discussion of Washington cybersecurity heavyweights, several senior security professionals I spoke with said they couldn’t understand half the stuff they talked about. This one is on the Feds to actually connect with their constituencies.
Topics: Cybersecurity RSA Conference

Violin Adds A New String To Its Bow

I couldn’t resist the pun in the title – it was either this one or "Violin orchestrates its next step!"

Anyhow, Violin just made two separate – albeit closely linked – announcements. I don’t usually comment too much on individual products but what’s happened is significant for the market as well as Violin so I figured a few lines are worthwhile. So, the news (in case you missed it) is this: first, Violin has extended its involvement with Toshiba into a formal IP-sharing partnership alliance; second, the first offspring of this new relationship is a series of server-based PCIe flash cards that Violin calls ‘Velocity’ and refers to (this is perhaps a semantic and philosophical discussion for another day…) as memory. So far, so good. What’s the significance?

  • For Violin – this is a move away from where it started (and, let’s be clear, will still play) which was in flash arrays/appliances attached to servers, whereas this is flash storage in servers. This is both an offensive and a defensive play as there is increasing competition from a wide variety of both large and small vendors in the flash space, and Violin wants to address/drive as large a percentage of this nascent and dynamic market as possible…partly because it makes prima facia business sense and partly because it has a great deal of money invested (over $230M since 2009). These new Velocity cards range in list price from $3/GB to $6/GB which is certainly going to garner some [positive] attention, as it clearly highlights that flash is becoming more affordable, and more 'normal.'
  • For the market – Violin’s move suggests that a range of solid-state types and implementations has value to users and is likely to become the norm. The clear and early leader for server-based flash, FusionIO, has itself made significant strides of late to offer different flash deployment styles and packaging. Violin’s price model also shows that ‘price matters’ – while that may seem like something of a "no shit, Sherlock" type of comment, it is actually evidence of something else - the move of flash away from just price-[mainly]-insensitive performance-centric applications, and to more price-sensitive ‘regular’ workloads.
Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

EMC – Flashier Or Not?

Well, apparently this is ‘Flash Announcement Week’ – although even using that term in the last year or so has something of a ‘Groundhog Day’ feel about it! On Monday of this week Violin added server-based flash to its offerings and now EMC has made a whole host of flash portfolio announcements.

Much as there’s that famous “I loved the razor so much that I bought the company” statement (well, something close to that!), EMC obviously loved the company name that it acquired with XtremIO a lot - so much in fact that it’s now become the brand name for EMC’s flash products! New arrivals this week include

  • XtremSF: SF =‘Server Flash.' This is a range of SLC and MLC PCIe-based server flash cards;
  • XtremSW Cache: advanced caching software (the initial version was EMC VFCache)…with clear indications of much more functionality to come in terms of flash management (including such things as pooling, cache coherency, etc., and deep VMware integration) across data centers (this will be called the XtremSW Suite)
  • XtremIO Array: the much-anticipated all-flash storage array is now in ‘directed availability,’ and sports a ‘software-defined’ moniker (Xtrem-ly up-to-date semantics!) as well as a whole host of storage features such as dedupe, thin provisioning, DP, and writeable snaps.
Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

First Impressions of the RSA Conference 2013

After much anticipation, the 2013 RSA Conference has come and gone. I have a number of topics to blog about starting with my positive impressions of the show:

Topics: Cybersecurity

What I Learned at VMware 2013 Partner Exchange

My trip this past week to Las Vegas for PEX was as a first timer. First time as an analyst as well as my first time to PEX. My goal while I was there was to talk to as many CEOs, CMOs, and VPs of technology companies that develop cloud-related products or provide cloud services. The experience was nothing short of exhilarating. Not because I really like LV but because it was so great to talk to so many bright, hard working, and passionate people. It also was nice to bump into a few old friends as well.

Topics: Cloud Services & Orchestration