PernixData FVP 2.0: Not Your Grandfather’s Storage [Management]

PernixData just announced a new release of its core FVP server-side-storage management product as well as a number of product extensions. Of course, you can get all the specific details from its press release but it did make me consider how a company like PernixData is truly a manifestation of a significant change in the storage world. It represents that change by talking a lot about “decoupling” storage performance and capacity. While that’s technically true, what companies like PernixData really reflect is something bigger than that.

For years “storage” has been just that – a singular, monolithic, and only-somewhat-malleable entity. You get more or less of it, and it is more or less capable to deliver some level of performance. The original IBM term of “DASD” – Direct Access Storage Device (how quaint that sounds in today’s mobile and networked world eh!?) – gave way to “disks” and indeed in many parts of the IT world the terms “disk” and “storage” were actually synonymous….despite the existence of alternatives. But, anyhow, for decades we muddled along with what we had. It was the least-worst option in many respects – and this is said with no lack of respect for the brilliant engineering that drove HDDs from MBs to GBs to TBs. It has been quite a ride.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

Permabit SANblox: Fitting More Bricks in Storage Buildings

Permabit just made a move that has the potential to be very interesting. It has taken its Alberio deduplication and compression abilities and packaged them into an appliance so as to be able to - essentially - retrofit data reduction capabilities to installed FC SANs. Of course data reduction is nothing new per se; various efforts have been made by the “mainstream” vendors for their “mainline” products over the last few years but without a huge success….although maybe because such efforts have not been wholeheartedly embraced at the sales tip of the spear, given that they almost certainly lead to lower capacity sales. However, as the saying goes, the times they are a’changing: Data reduction is cool, embraced and promoted by the newer vendors, and – with the cat thus firmly out of the bag – there is an undercurrent of pressure for it to be more widely available. There are few if any realistic reasons to not use it….well, except, ahem, for the fact that it ain’t available on most of the common products in use (and indeed still being sold) today.

Thus the new SANblox move by Permabit is intriguing - not to mention potentially lucrative - for a number of reasons:

  • Dedupe has for the most part been, until now, a key ingredient in the special sauce by which the all-flash vendors (especially) get to say that they can get their product cost down to a level similar to spinning drives; if existing FC SANs can now easily, and at low risk, add that same function then the price delta could be expanded again.
  • There’s a likely performance boost as much as the $$ motivation. And, also, of course the function will still work as and when users upgrade to other newer devices from their favorite vendors that have (oh yeah….) the Permabit software included.
  • Permabit is a proven piece of software- also it has made installation really easy while also providing HA via synchronous writes to ensure data safety. Its own testing shows data reductions typically run in the 4-6X range.....in other words, for many workloads you might only need 15-25% of the storage space you thought you needed. That’s no small improvement when you look at the cost of storage systems!
  • It has the ability to be a "pull" technology....as users get to know it can be done they might well exert pressure on their vendors to support it. Key products from major vendors such as EMC, NetApp, Dell, and Hitachi have already been qualified…..one cannot imagine that such traditional vendors are all 100% thrilled at the prospect of such pixie dust being sprinkled on their systems, but –equally – their pragmatism and desire for account retention could conceivably actually drive them to desire to sell less capacity!!
  • Why would vendors do that? Well....
    • they need more efficiency tools to stem and manage general storage growth; indeed getting more back-end efficiency might not translate to less revenue as users are likely to continue to spend the same budgets but be able to do more for those budgets. As always, there’s plenty of actual and nascent capacity growth to go around.
    • it's a bit like things such as vVols from VMware. As a “traditional” vendor you might not like it but you have to be seen to be a part of the contemporary world.
    • increasingly vendors are making - and going to make – more of their money from software and so squeezing more capacity out of the back end HDDs isn't as painful for them as it once might have been.
Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

Dot Hill - A Video Look Behind the Engineering Scenes

Storage isn't all about the IOPS and TBs. It has to work, be usable, and indeed get to its place of use along the same roads (with the same potholes and construction) as anything else.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

HDS bought Sepaton ... now what?

Have you ever known two people that seemed to tell the same stories and have the same ideas, but just weren’t that into each other? And then one day, BAM, they are besties.

Sepaton was (and is) a deduplication appliance vendor that has always marketed to “the largest of enterprises.” From Sepaton’s perspective, the deduplication market might be segmented into three categories:

  • Small deduplication vendors and software-based deduplication … for midsized companies.
  • Full product-line deduplication vendors, offering a variety of in-line deduplication, single-controller scale-up (but not always with scale-out) appliances from companies that typically produce a wide variety of other IT appliances and solution components … for midsized to large organizations.
  • Sepaton, offering enterprise deduplication efficiency and performance to truly enterprise-scale organizations, particularly when those organizations have outgrown the commodity approach to dedupe.
Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Data Protection

ESG Recap of VMworld 2014

The ESG analyst team headed into a VMworld 2014 with a list of vmworld-2014-top-questions-esg-analysts-hope-to-have-answered/index.html" target="_blank">questions and was met with the high energy of the event the moment we all deplaned at SFO. Each of the individual analysts' key takeaways are included below, following these general observations:

Topics: Storage Channel IT Infrastructure Data Protection VMworld Cloud Services & Orchestration

VMworld 2014 - ESG's Event Video Insights

VMworld was, as ever, massive - and remains one of the foundational IT events of the season. As is our wont, the attending ESG analyst team videoed its key, immediate insights live at the event. In the video blog that follows, I am joined by my colleagues Jason Buffington, Mark Bowker, Kevin Rhone and Scott Sinclair. In just six minutes you can get a broad yet succinct summary of some key takeaways from - and thoughts about - this year's event. VMW '14 was notable for the tone of the keynotes as much as the technology news, and for posing questions as much as providing answers...making it an intriguing installment of this ongoing series. Enjoy the video....

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Data Protection VMworld ESG on Location Cloud Services & Orchestration

Enterprise Security Professionals Speak Out on SDN Use Cases for Network Security

At this week’s VMworld shin dig in San Francisco, many networking and security vendors will crow about software-defined security and software use cases for SDN. Some of this rhetoric will be nothing more than industry hype while other banter may prove to be extremely useful in the near future.

Yes, there are many interesting ways that SDN could work to enhance network security. That said, which SDN/network security use cases are really compelling and which could be considered second-tier? ESG research asked this specific question to security professionals working at enterprise organizations (i.e., more than 1,000 employees) as part of a recent ESG research report, Network Security Trends in the Era of Cloud and Mobile Computing. Here are the top 5 SDN use cases for network security:

  • 28% want to use SDN to help them selectively block malicious traffic to endpoints while still allowing normal traffic flows. In this case, SDN would be tied into malware detection appliances like those from Cisco, FireEye, Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks, or Trend Micro.
  • 28% want to use SDN to improve network security policy auditing and conflict detection/resolution. Here, SDN could be used to aggregate and manage network segmentation, for example.
  • 23% want to use SDN to centralize network security service policy and configuration management. Similar to the use case above but in this case, SDN could be used to align network security policy with server virtualization (i.e., vCenter, MS System Center), cloud (i.e. AWS, OpenStack, etc.), or orchestration platforms (i.e., Chef, Puppet, etc.).
  • 23% want to use SDN to automate network security remediation tasks. Think “self-defending networks” here. Based upon the latest threat intelligence, a firewall/SDN controller combination could generate new firewall rules on the fly. Firms like Norse, Vorstack, or Webroot could act as the security intelligence brains tied into SDN in this use case.
  • 23% want to use SDN to implement more granular network segmentation for network security. Think micro-segmentation where specific users, sessions, or flows could communicate across a point-to-point VPN. For example, HyTrust works with Intel TXT to offer fine-grained segmentation aligning workloads with particular servers and trust zones.
Topics: Cybersecurity IT Infrastructure Networking Cloud Services & Orchestration

IBM Making Solid Progress in Flash (includes video)

While IBM has always been known for some great technologies across the IT board, it's not every day that one chats to IBM storage executives about its market leadership. But right now, good old Big Blue is doing remarkably well in the all-flash battleground. To try to figure out a little bit of the how and why, I spoke to both Michael Kuhn and Kevin Powell while at the recent Flash Memory Summit. I asked Mike to talk about how he sees the general market situation - in addition to IBM's recent success - while Kevin talked more about the elements behind that sales improvements...both from an overall storage portfolio perspective as well as some details about the latest update to the IBM V840 (which was announced at the Summit). The results are in this 5 minute video:

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

3 Questions that Will Tell You If You Are Overpaying for Storage

When evaluating potential storage vendors and solutions, one method I have seen quite often is the feature compare. You might be familiar with this process. A listing of all a products features and functionality listed side by side against the competing alternatives is created. Typically the offering with the most check marks is deemed the best and then, budget willing, it finds itself inside your data center.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

Flash Storage Summit - and the beat goes on (includes video)

Last week saw the annual Flash Memory Summit taking place in Santa Clara. As one glanced out from the convention center it was possible to hear the screams of delight from the Great America theme park next door and the hush of anticipation from the new Levi's Stadium - also a new neighbor - where the 49ers NFL team will now play. "Delight" and "anticipation" have long also been the watchwords around flash in the commercial storage world....what is clear this year is that the general market balance is definitely shifting to delight rather than anticipation.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure