Impressions From VMworld '13 (Includes Video)

Mentioning that VMware held its annual VMworld get-together in San Francisco this week is likely to not be news to anyone! After all VMware is one of the most widely-used and integrated vendors in this space. And the event has become a major IT ecosystem show - indeed arguably, looked at through my myopic spectacles, it's also one of the biggest storage shows there is out there. But of course the impact of VMware has gradually been expanding – it’s not just about server virtualization, or even my beloved storage. Years ago I remember Paul Maritz saying that VMware was building a “software mainframe”…..despite that only truly resonating with people of a certain age (those who actually remember mainframes!), this year’s event struck me as the year that VMware really put that intention as a line the sand. From networking to storage to data protection, and from data centers to the palm of your hand, VMware wants to be a part of things.

That was the story this week – under the banner of “Defy Convention” (I loved the – unintended? - irony of promoting that phrase everywhere at a convention!!) VMware revealed more intent than content; but the intent looks big. Essentially it was a declaration that just about all those with whom VMware co-operates today, should be prepared for the balance to shift inexorably to competition over the coming years. It’s going to be a fascinating ride – after all, the entire IT industry is locked into a maelstrom of convergence, cloud, virtualization, integration, and mobility…and VMware is already “meshed” into that in a big way. So, realistically, we know VMware is already a key element for many users at the center of that; there’s one small issue, of course….and that is that there’s also competition for VMware. The likes of Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon and Google - together with all the traditional specialist infrastructure vendors – are not going to simply sit around and watch VMware take over. For users, this burgeoning battle might need sides to be picked in the short term, but should ultimately deliver a few good choices….and I suggest everyone learns to spell ‘co-opetition.’

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Data Protection Networking VMworld Enterprise Mobility Cloud Services & Orchestration

Time to Bridge the Gap between Identity and Security

Lots of security vendors play in the identity space. IBM is a leader in both areas while McAfee, RSA Security, and Symantec have acquired identity technologies over the past few years.

Topics: Cybersecurity

Fusion ioVDI - Cost-effective VDI Performance Where it Matters

Fusion-io announced Fusion ioVDI software for VDI acceleration at VMworld this week. ESG Lab has gotten an early look, and is in the process of testing and analyzing for a Lab Validation report to be released soon.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Enterprise Mobility Cloud Services & Orchestration ESG Validation Services

Will VMware NSX Reinvent Data Center Networking and Security?

The end of summer can only mean two things: Back to school and VMworld. VMware is using its starring role to push its NSX network virtualization platform. VMware trumpets NSX as “a network virtualization platform that will deliver the entire networking and security model in software.” The thought here is that any L2-L7 network service can be run in software thus simplifying network engineering and operations while applying network services (i.e., firewalling, IDS/IPS, WAF, ADC, etc.) to alongside specific workloads.

NSX isn’t just a VMware thing. On the contrary, VMware insists that it will integrate with other hypervisors and cloud platforms like OpenStack and Amazon. NSX will also work with existing physical networks and network services.

Topics: Cybersecurity Networking

VMworld 2013 Day One

This is my first VMworld so some of the goings on are new to me – and I haven’t been to an event in the Moscone in a long, long time. My first impression – there are a LOT of people here. It took 20 minutes to leave the hall from the keynote – that’s how big it is. 22,000 people!

The keynote was done well as was the separate day of analyst specific meetings. Pat Gelsinger announced a good bit about the software-designed data center. NSX which my colleague Bob Laliberte is covering, was one big piece, of course, and has evolved since last year. You can read vmware-networking-update-from-vmworld-2013/index.html" target="_blank">Bob’s thoughts in his blog.

Topics: Networking Cloud Services & Orchestration

Barracuda Announces Copy for Companies Enhancements at VMworld

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

VMware Networking Update from VMworld 2013

One of the stated intentions of VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger was to expand virtualization technologies to encompass network and storage. Pat Gelsinger repeatedly emphasized the importance of networking to VMware. While many in the networking space probably figured out networking was important to VMware a year ago when it acquired Nicira for over a billion dollars, this show enabled VMware to showcase the progress it has made in the last year and demonstrate a leadership role.

Topics: IT Infrastructure Networking

IBM Extends Its Cybersecurity Footprint With Trusteer Acquisition

Yes, the IBM/Trusteer deal happened on 8/15 but summer activities interrupted my blogging schedule so I’m just catching up.

Rumor has it that IBM paid somewhere between $800m and $1 billion for the Israeli cybersecurity firm. That’s a lot of dollars, shekels, or any other currency but Trusteer can help IBM extend its information security shadow with:

  1. A greater presence in the financial services market. IBM is a major player in financial services with IT equipment, software, and services but is still playing catch up with CISOs in this space. With the acquisition of Trusteer, IBM grabs an established leader in web fraud detection (along with Silver Tail/RSA)and a killer installed base in the world’s largest banks. IBM will certainly use this new stature to position QRadar against ArcSight and establish a leadership position in big data security analytics. This is important since financial services firms tend to be aggressive spenders when it comes to information security.
  2. An advanced endpoint security solution. In spite of its aggressive push into security over the past few years, IBM’s participation in endpoint security has been limited to management (i.e. BigFix) and partnerships. The Trusteer acquisition gives IBM a new type of anti-malware solution that can act as an additional layer of endpoint security and can be deployed on PCs, Macs, and mobile devices. Trusteer endpoint security technology is sound but it was not big enough to push into the enterprise market to compete with Bromium, Invincea, Malwarebytes, or Sourcefire. IBM certainly has the resources to make this happen soon. Look for IBM to integrate Trusteer anti-malware capabilities with its network-based solutions (i.e., ISS) to form a comprehensive network/endpoint anti-malware architecture.
  3. Greater intelligence and cloud services. Trusteer solutions are anchored by research, intelligence, and cloud-based protection. IBM can spread these capabilities across existing resources like its xForce security research, QRadar SIEM, and various managed security services options.
  4. Mobile security solutions. Rather than develop its own MDM, IBM is pitching mobile security as part of a bigger play that includes secure application development processes, application security testing, endpoint device management, identity and access management, and network security. IBM will likely fold the Trusteer mobile risk engine, SDK, and secure browser, and out-of-band mobile authentication into its mobile enterprise security mix.
  5. A recruiting hub. IBM plans to establish a presence in Israel for cybersecurity research and development. Given the global shortage of security talent this is a very shrewd move giving IBM access to elite talent coming out of the IDF and Unit 8200.
Topics: Cybersecurity

Channel and Service Provider Opportunities in Protecting Virtualized Environments

As VMworld kicks off, I wanted to share some insights from ESG's recently published Trends in Protecting Highly Virtualized Environments report. In a new research brief that ESG published this morning, we look at the 'skills gap' for data protection and virtualization. Click Here to check it out.

Topics: Data Protection VMworld Cloud Services & Orchestration

The Rise of Networking at VMworld 2013

Next week VMworld kicks off at the Moscone center in San Francisco with much anticipation. I am looking forward to hearing about their integration efforts and enhancements to their networking solutions. More specifically, the NSX solution, now that they have a year under their belt with Nicira – it wasn’t quite fair to dig too deep at last year's show – I think the acquisition had only been completed 2 weeks (or was it 2 days?) prior to the show.

This year however, should contain a lot more content for those interested in networking. Indeed, VMware announced NSX earlier this year (available in 2H 2013) which integrates the Nicira NVP and vCloud Network and Security products into one platform. I think this was a smart decision, given that ESG research has indicated that network security is a top priority for organizations for 2013 (see ESG's Research Brief, 2013 Networking Spending Trends). We expect others will follow suit and my esteemed colleague, Jon Oltsik, who covers security for ESG, and I will continue to cover this topic in more detail.

Topics: IT Infrastructure Networking VMworld

vBlog -- Using a Separate or Unified Solution for protecting VMs

As many in the IT industry are getting ready for VMworld, my mind always wanders back to what seems to be the perennial question – “Use a separate backup solution for protecting VMs … or a single solution for physical and virtual servers?”

It used to be that the Virtualization-specific solutions did an inarguably better job than the Unified players did, because they had done the extra effort to make up for insufficient backup APIs in the hypervisor(s). But those days are over. VMware vStorage APIs for data protection (VADP) and Microsoft Hyper-V’s Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) mechanisms ensure that every backup solution that wants to do a good job of protecting VMs can. That is NOT to say that all VM backup solutions are equal!! What it does mean is that “can I back up a VM?” is no longer the right question.

Topics: IT Infrastructure Data Protection Cloud Services & Orchestration

6 Months with a Dell XPS 12

In my previous job I had the company-assigned machine which was a brick type laptop with enough processing power and memory to get by – but to keep costs down in a 50,000 plus employee company the machine was not light. Needless to say I wasn’t sad about that when I had to give it back when I left. Here at ESG we have a BYOD and a cloud program (practice what we talk about). So I’d been wanting to make the cutover to Apple for a long time and the BYOD policy was my chance to do that. For better or worse as a family we have a lot of Apple stuff at home and I figured it would just help to simplify things for me a bit.

So I purchased a Macbook Pro 13 as my BYOD machine – which I figured would be a good sized machine to work and travel with. There were only 2 things wrong with this plan. The first one turned out to be fairly irritating to me. While the product and the brand is the same – MS Word does not behave the same on a Mac as it does on a Windows PC. This is especially problematic when you are always sending content to your production team and they have to constantly ‘reformat’ the docs. Extra work is extra work no matter how you spin it. The second problem was equally distressing. One of my colleagues and I were down in Austin visiting a few customers and the machine froze. Nothing could bring it back to life and I didn’t have a micro Philips on me to peel the battery out. So we hit an Apple store … 30 minute wait for a ‘genius’ then they take it out back for 30 more and come back to tell me it has to go to a repair depot. Crap. No machine for how long? To their credit it arrived at the house the day after I did but I was still machine-less for 3 days. A month later the same thing happens. I bring it into the local store and that costs me another hour to have them tell me they need to keep it at least overnight for observation. Huh? They needed to run a series of tests that would take 12 hours at least. Ok. Fine. I get the machine again the next day and it runs fine for a month. Yup, and it happens again. This time I call Apple directly and ask for a supervisor. They send out a box for me to send it to corporate to look at.

Topics: IT Infrastructure Cloud Services & Orchestration

The Macro-strategy of Microsoft Includes Storage

“There are big changes happening today in the [insert your preferred technology here] area of IT.” That’s what our industry says all the time. It’s like movie trailers that start off “In a world…”. It can all-too-easily go beyond a truism to become a cliché and go onwards to be parody: indeed, a movie carrying the very title “In a World…” was released just this week!

But what if the Martians (….or true love, or talking planes, or something else equally unexpected) really started to appear? Would we have spent so long thinking it unlikely or impossible that we might just miss the signs that would have prepared us to embrace it? And that’s exactly where we seem to be with one of the changes happening in IT today. You see, it’s also significant that the big contemporary shift is actually….well, a big change. Traditional “big changes” in IT are often hype and for decades have been largely about better tools with which to do the things we’re already doing; it’s the IT equivalent of laundry detergent that “washes whiter.” But the big change these days (growing from, manifested by, and built upon elements like virtualization, clouds and convergence) is not – to extend the analogy - about washing clothes better; it is instead about a whole new approach to keeping clothes clean.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Cloud Services & Orchestration

How NetApp is Conquering the Cloud

It is interesting to see the changing of tides – especially those that have big implications. Several years ago I happened to be in a job and role where we got to talk about technology ecosystems. Sometimes they make a lot of sense – who is connected to who and why is pretty clear and simple to see. Other times, like the recent set of Oracle announcements, well it takes a lot more thought and head scratching to get there.

I’ve been chewing on how this applies to shifting of technology from IT buying hardware to subscribing to hardware as part of a service. For the major technology vendors this represents a significant shift. What happens if:

  • Internal users start using cloud storage for storing/sharing files (e.g., Dropbox)
  • IT begins formally shifting applications to the cloud (e.g., to MS Office365, Salesforce)
  • Development starts doing test/dev off-premises (e.g., AWS on-demand)
Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Networking Cloud Services & Orchestration

The Enterprise Security Model Is Experiencing “Death by a Thousand Cuts”

If enterprise security were an automobile it would be a Ford Taurus circa 1995. Good car way back when and still running but burning oil, barely passing inspection, and held together by bondo today.

Topics: Cybersecurity SOAPA

The Pressing Need to Improve Endpoint Visibility for Information Security

In a recent ESG research project, 315 security professionals working at enterprise organizations (i.e., more than 1,000 employees) were asked to identify their organizations’ endpoint security monitoring weaknesses. Thirty percent said they were unsure about, “applications installed on each device,” 19% had difficulty monitoring “downloads/execution of suspicious code,” 12% struggled when tracking, “suspicious/malicious network activity,” and 11% had a hard time tracking “current patch levels.”

Why is it so difficult to monitor endpoint activities? An old saying comes to mind: “Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink.” There are records about endpoints all over the place – asset databases, CMDBs, network monitoring tools, vulnerability scanners, patch management tools, etc. – but when security analysts need up-to-the-minute information for critical remediation activities, they have to scramble around through a myriad of management systems to retrieve it.

Topics: Cybersecurity

Video Summary of Disk-Based Target Backup Systems

A few months ago, ESG completed its research on Disk-Based Backup Target Systems – the storage platforms that data protection solutions are often built upon.

The nice folks in ESG’s video team were kind enough to help me record some of our findings, as well as what made the research compelling.

Topics: Data Protection

Thinking about Xbox Home Server

My friend Mark Bowker recently blogged about the hypothetical microsoft-surface-server-for-your-datacenter/index.html" target="_blank">potential of a Microsoft Surface Server. Since he covers virtualization for ESG, he has a lot of opportunities to think about converged infrastructure, as well as the impressive hardware stacks of converged infrastructure that are powering today’s data centers. At the same time, another friend, Rod Trent at Windows IT Pro, wrote an article about Xbox One.

And that got me thinking…

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Data Protection Cloud Services & Orchestration

Which Security Vendors Have an Advantage with Integrated Network and Host-based Security?

Suppose that President Obama scheduled a visit to New York for an event in Time Square. Now what if the Secret Service deployed two teams responsible for security; one to secure the Avenues running north and south (i.e. Broadway, 7th Ave., etc.), and another to do the same for the streets running east and west (i.e., 49th St., 48th St., etc.)? Further, what if these teams operated independently with little coordination and communications and different chains of command?

Topics: Cybersecurity

Microsoft Surface Server for Your Data Center?

ESG has been tracking and monitoring the integrated computing platform (ICP) market extensively, as major system vendors like Hitachi, HP, Dell and IBM align their server, networking, and storage products into a single turnkey solution or companies like VCE, NetApp, and Cisco partner and execute through a best of breed approach. We also have a number of emerging companies like Nutanix, Scale Computing, Simplivity, and Pivot3 that are taking more of a bottom up approach and have the potential to cause some disruption with their ‘hyper-converged’ solutions. ESG covers all these ICPs and the benefits to IT organizations in greater detail in its recently published Market Landscape Report: Integrated Computing Platforms. But, where does Microsoft fit into the mix and why should you care?

Microsoft has its Private Cloud Fast Track program with a number of vendors providing joint reference architectures (RAs) for building private cloud platforms. Integrated with Microsoft System Center for management and orchestration, these RAs combine Microsoft software and guidance with OEM partner technology to deliver validated, turnkey solutions. They are designed around several key tenets of cloud computing: resource pooling, elasticity, continuous availability, predictability, metering and chargeback, multi-tenancy, and security and identity. Participating vendors include Cisco, Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, Huawei, IBM, NEC, NetApp, and Nimble Storage.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Networking Cloud Services & Orchestration

The Spectrum of Data Protection

It is interesting to me how marketing folks and technical purists banter IT terms around in hopes of sounding fresh and compelling to their customers. While “backup” is often thought of as passé or the bane of IT operations, “data protection” is perceived as more strategic, with other lofty terms such as “business continuity” and “information management” being thrown around as adjuncts. And that doesn’t include some of the classic debates, such as snapshots-vs-backups-a-great-debate-no-longer/index.html" target="_blank">Snapshots versus Backups … or Disk vs. Tape.

A few years ago, I wrote the book “Data Protection for Virtual Data Centers,” where the first chapter described the Landscape of Data Protection, as a range of methods that could be categorized by RTO and implementation layer, with a key focus being the differentiation of solutions focused on Availability of data versus Protection of data:

Topics: Data Protection

Technology Giants Making Big Bets, Customers Holding Out

One of the things I love about being an analyst is chatting with my colleagues about what’s going on in general at the macro level. Don’t get me wrong, I love the deep dive discussions, too! Getting to talk to such seasoned industry vets is always enlightening. Of course I have my lens (and bias) and I like to think about what’s going on from a cloud perspective.

When I think of big tech companies like Microsoft, IBM, Dell, HP, Oracle – I think of almost glacial movement with a spike that occurs from some new product announcement or an occasional acquisition. And here is where it gets interesting – WOW – are things changing fast, wicked fast. Not only are the giants spending money on acquisitions, but they are also putting their weight behind some pretty major ‘movements’ in the industry as well.

Topics: Networking Converged Infrastructure Cloud Services & Orchestration

CISOs Should Assess Security Policies and Processes with Bradley Manning in Mind

While the Edward Snowden saga continues to play out, PFC Bradley Manning was back in the news last week as a result of his trial and continuing sentencing hearings. Manning was the central figure in the massive intelligence leaks that ended up being posted on WikiLeaks a few years back.

Topics: Cybersecurity

Server Virtualization Holding Pattern Leading to Cloud Stall

The macro IT market is experiencing an extended evaluation and research period for IT organizations that is resulting in a dip in action for vendors.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Networking Cloud Services & Orchestration