MemSQL’s “Johnny Mnemonic” Even Better than the Keanu Reeves Version

The hot ticket to database performance these days is “in-memory” and many are now exploring how this can improve their data analytics capabilities. The basic premise is to load all critical data directly in RAM and conduct lightning fast processing there. As main memory is many times faster than spinning disk, even faster than flash storage, this method has an inherent physics advantage. The cost of doing this has come way down and organizations are seeing that boost translate into real-time, or near-real-time, insights even on large data sets. Various vendors have designed this natively into their products or are retrofitting this performance into their databases. microsofts-surefire-big-data-strategy-run-what-you-brung/index.html" target="_blank">(See my post on Microsoft last week.)
MemSQL has taken a pure-play approach with their distributed SQL offering, and has shown fantastic results with a simple but well-optimized scale-out model. The 3.0 release added columnar-indexing and an automated hierarchical approach to storage tiers, along with JSON functionality. This all has just gotten better with the addition of a slick operations dashboard for the poor, over-worked DBA who has to manage and tune any size environment. Monitoring, planning, and troubleshooting is facilitated with an intuitive and customizable graphical user interface.
While not alone in the in-memory sub-segment of the SQL database market, this shows increasing maturity from an operations point of view, and that is sorely needed in the big data market in general. Keeping everything in memory shouldn’t be at the expense of management tools, and new innovative software needs exactly this sort of enhanced functionality to have a sporting chance against the bigger database incumbents like Microsoft’s SQL Server 2014 and IBM’s DB2 with Blu Acceleration.
*Did anyone actually see Johnny Mnemonic and get the reference? For the record, William Gibson’s writing is way better than the film would indicate.
Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI

Buy or Build Your Own SDN?

Topics: IT Infrastructure Networking ESG on Location

Big Blue is Cool as Ice

For those who feel locked in their tower, a chill deep inside, there is good news today. IBM has made a virtual snowstorm of announcements which should have the whole palace rejoicing.

Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI

Enterprises Need Outside-In Continuous Monitoring for Risk Management

Ask any CISO what their job entails and they are likely to respond with a common mantra: Assess IT risk, communicate IT risk to business executives, and then create and execute a mutually agreed upon plan to address risk.

Topics: Cybersecurity Cloud Services & Orchestration

Infinio -- Less Clutter, More Productivity -- Lessons from a Performance-acceleration Software Startup

I had an interesting visit with the folks at performance-acceleration software startup Infinio a few days ago. The visit served a couple of useful purposes - first, nearly two hours of driving to get there reminded me of why I am glad that I do not have a big daily commute (not to mention that I should look on a map and plan my hotels accordingly!); second, and perhaps of more interest to you, was the way that Infinio reminded me of some focused and uncluttered basics that really matter for startups in this business, but that don't always get a lot of attention in between the funding rounds, engineering meetings, and trade shows.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

Good Medicine for Big Data Privacy Concerns

Big data by definition combines many diverse sources of information into a central repository for analytics and delivers insights that couldn’t otherwise be found. This is healthy and good. Put all your medicines in one place for easy access when you need it.

There is a downside to this accumulation of assets, and it’s a privacy problem. Look in my backpack and you might find some Benadryl, fine, I don’t care if you know about my spring hayfever. Spend ten minutes in my medicine cabinet and you’ll really know all my dark secrets.

Topics: Cybersecurity Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI

The Marriage of Violin and Microsoft

Violin has their all-flash storage array. Microsoft has their latest OS, Windows Server 2012 R2, loaded with storage features like Storage Spaces, SMB, and SMB Direct. It’s quite natural for the two to come together, right? RIGHT! In a recent announcement, the two companies have teamed up to jointly develop a new solution called the Windows Flash Array, which combines the best of both worlds: Violin storage hardware and Microsoft storage software.

So the big question is what can organizations expect from the WFA? ESG Lab knows first-hand what can be expected. We’ve actually independently tested the technologies from both companies. My colleagues Tony Palmer and Kerry Dolan completed a Violin ESG Lab Validation on an all-flash storage array with a focus on high levels of performance, efficiency, and flexible scalability in virtualized, mixed workload environments. And I’ve completed a bunch of Microsoft-focused ESG Lab Validations that highlight most of their new storage features with focuses on everything from basic features and functions to the performance of virtualized application workloads that utilize SMB 3.0 and SMB Direct (RDMA) to potential cost savings when leveraging Microsoft storage features.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

Advanced Malware Detection and Response and Other Cybersecurity Services on the Rise

Think about all of the cybersecurity industry activity with advanced malware detection and response and what comes to mind? Most people would probably focus on technology vendors like Bromium, Cylance, Damballa, FireEye, and Palo Alto Networks since these firms have garnered headlines, raised vast fortunes of VC funding, and even pushed through successful IPOs.

Topics: Cybersecurity Cloud Services & Orchestration

How do you back up Big Data? Or SaaS? Who will be the next Veeam?

It seems that every time a new major IT platform is delivered, backing it up is an afterthought – often exacerbated by the fact that the platform vendor didn’t create the APIs or plumbing to enable a backup ecosystem. Each time, there is a gap where the legacy folks aren’t able to adapt quickly enough and a new vendor (or small subset) start from scratch to figure it out. And for a while, perhaps a long while, they are the defacto solution until the need becomes so great that the platform vendor creates the APIs, and then everyone feverishly tries to catch up. Sometimes they do, other times, not so much:

Veeam, while not the only virtualization-specific backup solution, is a classic example of this scenario and is typically the vendor that the legacy solutions measure themselves against for mindshare or feature innovation in their efforts to win back those who are using a VM-specific product in combination with traditional physical backup solutions.

Before them, Seagate Software’s Backup Exec was synonymous with Windows Server backups, helped by the built-in "Backup Exec lite" version that shipped within early Windows.

Before them, Cheyenne Software’s ARCserve was synonymous with Novell NetWare backups, who was among the first to protect a server's data from within the server, instead of from the administrator’s desktop (really).

History continues to repeat itself

The challenge for platform vendors is that after the early adopters have embraced a platform (any platform), the mainstream folks will push back under the premise of “If I am going to put my eggs (data) in this basket, it better be a solid basket” (meaning that it is back-up-able) – without which will ultimately hinder the second/broader waves of adoption. Other examples include:

Topics: Data Protection Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI ESG on Location

Microsoft's Surefire Big Data Strategy: Run What You Brung

In the race to deploy hot new big data solutions, there will be winners and there will be losers. Some might never get off the starting line, some will crash along the way. What is certain is that the companies which can leverage their data more effectively and more broadly will have a competitive advantage. Just like in a race, the sooner you get an edge, even a few tenths of a second per lap, the more you will build a lead.

Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI Cloud Services & Orchestration

The Future of Network Security in the Data Center – Flexible, Distributed, and Virtual

Think of a modern enterprise data center. There are likely hundreds of physical servers hosting thousands of VMs. Individual systems are connected via 10gbE links that likely feed 40gb cores. Local data centers connect over DWDM, remote data centers use MPLS, and cloud data centers chat amongst each other over high-speed VPNs.

Topics: Cybersecurity IT Infrastructure Networking

Quick Wrap-up of Big Data TechCon

I’ve been fortunate in my role as an ESG Lab Analyst in that I’ve been able to be hands-on with a mix of companies that range from new, emerging startups to mature, proven companies. Specifically in the “Big Data” space, the exposure to the new products and technology has been just enough that I really want to wrap my head around everything there is to know. My ultimate goal at a high-level is to provide clarity where it’s needed - clarity in a cloudy (pun intended), confusing big data ecosystem. What do I need to fix my problem? Who does what? How do they do it? And the big question for me right now: Who really does what they say they do?

I’m finding this last question to be important. With all the confusion of all the big data technology that’s out there, companies can pretty much get away with saying they do X, Y, and Z, when in actuality they do X, they kind of do Y, and they don’t do Z. But before I get too deep into specifics of technologies, companies, and approaches to solving big data problems, I’m trying to stay as high-level as possible.

Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI

Is Your Big Data Safe?

Nice data you have there. We wouldn’t want anything to happen to it now, would we?

Like many newer technologies, the initial focus of big data has been around the flashy bits: speed and capabilities. Vendors have been keen to show they are significantly better, faster, cheaper than traditional approaches, even “blue ocean,” if you like MBA terminology. Which is great for getting attention from a possibly complacent installed base, but can’t be the full story.

Topics: Data Protection Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI

The Heartbleed Bug (in English)

News of the so-called Heartbleed bug made the rounds last week. I received a message from a friend asking, “Why didn’t you warn me about this?” So I had better respond.

Unlike, say, the Target breach, this one was steeped in tech lingo that made understanding it a bit of a project. So let’s walk through what happened and how it affects the average user.

Topics: Cybersecurity

ESG Research Shows that Storage Management Doesn't Get Easier with Scale

There is a dizzying array of "automatic" storage management functions available to IT professionals these days. From snaps to tiering, to replication, and even integration of the cloud, much of it can be a "set and forget" policy-driven joy! Can't it!?

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Data Protection Cloud Services & Orchestration

CISOs Must “Think Different”

Remember the “Think Different” advertising campaign from Apple? It ran from 1997 to 2000 and featured bigger-than-life personalities like Buckminster Fuller, Martin Luther King, and Pablo Picasso.

The “Think Different” ads coincided with Steve Jobs’s return to Apple as well as his somewhat contrarian and analytical mindset. In a PBS interview, Jobs offered this philosophical insight about life:

Topics: Cybersecurity

The True Chasm Yet to be Crossed for Big Data

Every vendor, customer, and channel player has a common problem with the big data market today. They don’t know how to build a complete solution. There are literally hundreds of companies with products and services being positioned as “big data platforms.” I know this is true, I have a list of each.

At the top level, an elevator pitch of value, the sales and marketing stories all sound the same. Exactly the same promises are made: transform your business, be data-driven, understand your customer more deeply, run operations better, faster, and cheaper than ever before. “All well and good,” you say, “admirable and desirable goals, but how do I do this?”

Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI

The Non-Compete Debate - with Myself

Today the Boston Globe published an article suggesting that the great (sarcasm) state of Massachusetts should repeal a longstanding law allowing Non-Compete agreements to be enforced (though oddly, ONLY for Tech Companies - so it's totally fine for everyone else).

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

Post Interop Musings

Now that a few days have passed since returning from Interop and Las Vegas, it seems like a good time to recap my visit. As expected, there was a lot going on, and not just new product announcements. There were announcements from both Aerohive and Arista stating their intentions to go public with IPOs. Both companies have reported tremendous growth and are now looking to get to the next level.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Networking ESG on Location

My Two Cents on the Security and Market Implications of the End of Windows XP

I know there have been a substantial number of articles on the end of Windows XP and its implications, but I couldn’t resist chiming in. Hey, maybe I was destined to do so since I was one of a few thousand people at the Windows 95 introduction in Redmond (back in the summer of 1995 of course). Here are my thoughts on this transition, I’ll try to take a bit of a different angle on the topic.

1. Microsoft will likely come out of this with a black eye. Windows XP was released in 2001 and was supported by Microsoft for nearly 13 years. As a point of comparison, the aforementioned W95 was supported for just over 6 years. Microsoft was more than generous with XP support, in spite of its market misstep with Vista, yet roughly 27% of PCs are still running XP and will now be vulnerable to a certain wave of malware over the next few months. If any of these attacks result in a major breach, we are bound to see publicity-seeking pols lambasting Redmond in the halls of the U.S. Congress conjuring up imagery of Teddy Roosevelt and his famous trust-busting exploits of 1902. In truth, Microsoft did nothing wrong, but if and when there are XP security problems, look for the Washington PR machine to seize on the opportunity for Microsoft vilification.

Topics: Cybersecurity Enterprise Mobility

Managing IT Risk Associated with Mobile Computing Security

When BYOD was coming to fruition a few years ago, it had a sudden and deep impact on IT risk. Why? Many CISOs I spoke with at the time said it was purely a matter of scale. All of a sudden, large enterprises had thousands of additional devices on their networks and they struggled to figure out what these devices were doing and how these activities impacted organizational risk.

Topics: Cybersecurity Enterprise Mobility

The New Cybersecurity Technology Reality - the Whole Is Greater than the Sum of its Parts

I wrote a blog last week about new integrated anti-malware technology in response to Palo Alto Network’s acquisition of Cyvera. In fact, this integrated technology model isn’t limited to anti-malware but is becoming the new reality across the cybersecurity lifecycle of risk management, incident prevention, incident detection, and incident response.

I’m convinced that this is where the market is headed, driven by burgeoning cybersecurity requirements across organizations large and small. Why do I believe this? Well, in a recent ESG research survey, 315 security professionals working at enterprise organizations (i.e., more than 1,000 employees) were asked how their organization’s security strategy would change over the next 24 months. A little under half (44%) of respondents said that their organization would “design and build a more integrated enterprise security architecture,” the highest percentage of all responses. This trend is actually reverberating on the supply side as Blue Coat, Cisco/Sourcefire, FireEye, IBM, McAfee, PAN, and Trend Micro are all engaged in R&D and M&A activities to meet the need for technology integration.

Topics: Cybersecurity

Does VCE really mean Virtuous Customer Experience?

Over the past couple of days my colleague Mark Bowker and I have had the pleasure of being out in California’s San Diego area spending time with all the top execs at VCE. A bunch of the juicy stuff can’t be shared as yet due to NDAs – though I will say it is all directionally good and going to provide some really great new capabilities for VCE customers.

That being said – what I really came away with was so much more than just another ‘yada-yada-speeds-and-feeds’ understanding of what VCE is all about. A year ago I would have been thinking ‘but what about … and what about … or why didn’t you do this?’ Now I’m just damn impressed with a company that has really figured out what it is good at and it has completely focused on that. The VCE folks talked a lot about simplicity – simplicity in the product line as well as the experience of moving a Vblock from the loading dock to making it run workloads. What really is going on is there is an executive team highly focused on delivering outstanding service to their customers. Here are some of the highlights on how they are doing that:

Topics: Converged Infrastructure Cloud Services & Orchestration

To Automate or Not to Automate (Incident Response): That Is the Question

The recently published Senate report on the Target breach exposed a dicey situation that is all too familiar to enterprise security professionals. As it turns out, Target implemented malware detection technology from FireEye, which happened to detect the now infamous POS memory scrapping code but the IT team was running FireEye in detection rather than prevention mode. This meant that Target had to take some manual action to remove the malware and remediate the incident. Alas, Target did not take this faithful act and the rest is cybercrime history.

To the uninitiated, Target’s behavior seems misguided at best, or even completely incompetent if you take a harder line. Why wouldn’t Target let FireEye do what it was designed to do and avoid this whole disaster?

Topics: Cybersecurity