The real news this past week out of EMC World is not that EMC has decoupled its VMAX or Symmetrix controller heads from its back end disk drives, added some bells and whistles to it and called it “VPLEX”. The big news in my mind is that this decoupling puts the storage industry on notice that EMC has officially begun its transformation from a disk vendor into a provider of storage intelligence.
Upon arriving at Symantec Vision on Wednesday morning, it quickly became evident that the messaging at this year’s event focused on how the business world is shifting from a Systems-Centric View (policies and governance is done according to the physical devices on which they reside such as servers, networking and storage) of data management to an Information Centric View (policies and governance are set independent of what storage device on which the data resides).
Backup software is, if nothing else, a “Me-Too” space with each vendor adding new features to each release of its product to try to match what its competitors are doing as well as trying to add a few new twists of their own to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Today’s CA announcement of ARCserve r12.5 continues this trend. To remain competitive, r12.5 adds data deduplication as a core component of ARCserve, improves users’ abilities to recover guest VMs on virtual server operating systems and more tightly integrates ARCserve with popular applications. CA seeks to differentiate ARCserve from competitors with new native SRM reporting capabilities and providing assurance that organizations can restore their deduplicated backup data.
You can’t talk about storage these days without including virtualization somewhere in the conversation. The Spring 2009 SNW was no different as one of its Summits was devoted to virtualization. The Tuesday, April 7, Virtualization Summit proved very interesting even though it was dominated by vendors. Some of the better data points that came out of this Summit were from TheInfoPro and Boston Medical Center. Also, interesting tidbits on SSD are emerging as SSD appears to solve performance challenges for VMware-access-to-storage in high I/O environments as well as performance intensive development environments.
2009 is shaping up as the year of server virtualization. The hype around Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware ESX Server is giving way to the reality of companies actually virtualizing their production servers as a means to improve energy efficiencies and slash infrastructure costs. But as companies virtualize these servers, many are leaving the familiarity of direct attached storage (DAS) and entering the world of networked storage for the first time. This is creating new challenges, especially for Windows servers using utilities such as defragmenters that will begin to operate on virtual machines (VMs) and defragment each VM’s associated file system.
In the computer industry, Diskeeeper is as synonymous with disk defragmentation as Microsoft is to Windows. In fact, any knowledgeable Microsoft Windows administrator knows that defragmenting a disk drive can provide application performance boosts of up to 176 percent, if you believe some reports. That makes Diskeeper a must-have in the eyes of some shops with performance intensive applications running on Windows servers. However as more enterprises virtualize their servers and disk drives, how does Diskeeper’s technology remain relevant? To get some answers to these questions, I recently spoke to Derek De Vette, VP of Public Affairs for Diskeeper Corporation.
I just got back to Omaha after spending the last three days at Storage Networking World (SNW) and used the time on my flight home to reflect upon some of the conversations I had during my time there. While I still plan to do more blog entries in the coming days around the technologies that I reviewed at SNW, I first wanted to share some of the thoughts and feelings of those in attendance about how they think the economic crisis will affect tech in general and how companies should prepare to act in 2009. In particular, I wanted to share the thoughts of those who have weathered economic downturns in the past and how users have responded to them.
Who is Omneon, Inc., and why should you care? Do not worry if you have not heard of them as I said the same thing to myself when the name was first mentioned to me because if you are not from the video and digital broadcasting industry, it’s unlikely you have heard of them. So, I was interested to hear what its Senior Vice President of Products and Markets, Geoff Stedman, had to say about its product and why Omneon is making a push outside of its traditional storage niche.
Years ago when I first got involved in storage, I couldn’t figure out why storage management was so difficult. In fact, I initially had a hard time even keeping myself busy in my job as a storage administrator. While I was on a storage management team that was extremely knowledgeable, all of my co-workers worked on mainframe storage. As a result, they were of a little or no help in helping me prioritize what tasks I needed to accomplish. In fact, about the only thing we shared in common was that we were responsible for managing storage systems that had round, brown and spinning disks in them.
The point is that to succeed in the SRM space as an independent software vendor that does not tie the software purchase to the hardware, you need to deliver three things: (1) a great product; (2) great value, and (3) a genuine commitment to develop and evolve the product to meet customer’s needs. One would think those points would be obvious but I believe a major reason that many SRM products failed on their first go-round was it seemed vendors were more interested in selling half-baked software and getting bought out by larger vendors than they were in providing products that worked, provided value out of the box and then delivered value to customers on a long term basis.
The challenge that APTARE faces, however, is the same challenge that every other SRM vendor faces. Keep SRM software relevant in the face of declining storage capacity prices. This factor alone often makes it far too easy for companies to throw more storage capacity at the problem as opposed to trying to monitor and proactively manage it. Regardless of whether or not APTARE has the right architecture, they need to help break users of their storage consumption habit
Can APTARE’s StorageConsole remain relevant in 2008 and beyond? That was a question that weighed on my mind as I met with Rick Clark, APTARE’s President and CEO, a couple of weeks ago. The purpose of the briefing: receive an update on what steps APTARE is taking to keep its StorageConsole 6.5 product alive and growing as the data protection space evolves. Of course, the particular challenge that StorageConsole needs to address now and in the coming years is managing the growing use of disk in data protection and start to wean itself off of managing tape-based backup.