Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December III

Facebook as seen from the orbit! An amazing idea and picture! Check out the details here!
And if you are interested in a few more details about Facebook's storage infrastructure, read this post and technical paper.

New exciting developments on the side of the basic building blocks of any storage system: The HDDs and SSDs storing our data.
Hitachi delivers a new areal density record for HDDs with an amazing 636 Gbits per square inch and IBM announces its first MLC (multi-level-cell) SSD drives for enterprise storage use.

TRILL and converged networking news from IBM fellow blogger Tony Pearson who reports from the Data Center 2010 Conference in Las Vegas and Network Computing editor Mike Fratto, who summarizes his thoughts about CISCO's FabricPath implementation.

And lastly, two more articles about 2011 trends:
The "searchstorage.com" predictions of hot storage technologies and one more article about the fact that RAID will soon have to be replaced with other technologies to prevent data loss in entperprise storage systems.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 13, 2010

December II

Next in line of storage startups to be acquired: Compellent!?

A very interesting Gartner study finds that "introducing a second networking vendor will reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) for most organizations by at least 15%-25% for a five-year time frame".

In the nearby IBM Zurich Research Lab, the new Nanotechnology Center will soon be opened, visit this site here for detailed information and read why "noise-free labs" and "clean rooms" are needed for nanotech research.

And with the year 2010 coming the an end very soon, this is the time for the "best of" and "worst of" lists, here is the "Top Ten Data Disasters"!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December I

Browsing thru the latest "Top 500" list of Supercomputers, I noticed that the type of interconnect technology used is still shifting towards Infiniband: currently the statistics show a total of 43% of all sites using this technology (only topped by Ethernet at 46%).

I would be really surprised if the next list due in Spring 2011 will not show Infiniband as the most used interconnect?
Even though there will be only two major vendors left: Qlogic and Mellanox.

On the storage side, IDC shows a very healthy growth in the external disk market with an amazing Netapp gaining share from almost everybody else. Will they be able to keep the momentum in 2011? I personally think so, but maybe not as an idenpendant company? Where they certainly excel is in terms of close integration with VMware and this will be a key factor for success next year and beyond as Chris Mellor outlines here: Watch this space!

Robin Harris' observations are along the same lines, although he starts his argument from a "processor technology" point of view: Is the industry going to hit "Moore's Wall"?

But even though we will not see faster processors being roll out at the same pace we have been used to in the last thirty years, there seems to be room for growth in terms of faster connections between processors: basically replacing electronic communication with optical links inside the systems (see picture).
Read the IBM Research press release here.

The HDD industry (and I mean HDD, not SSD!) at least seems to have more years of double-digit density increases ahead, these two articles (one, two) show how "microwaved disks" will allow dense data packaging.

Friday, November 19, 2010

November I

When Facebook is down, our world comes to a virtual halt...it seems. This is what happened recently and here's the official answer about the reasons behind the outage. Facebook -as other companies- is struggling to contain and manage their data growth.
As this Gartner study shows, data growth (and related topics like archiving, data reduction techniques, storage consolidation) will remain IT's biggest challenges moving into 2011!

Moving from the future to the past: Linear-tape-open (aka LTO) celebrated its 10-year anniversary this month! LTO is also part of my past in the storage industry: I had the pleasure to initiate and co-author the very first release of the IBM LTO Redbook back in 2000! And after a quick research, some websites with that very first release of the book did surface!
The technology behind this very succesful architecture has not changed, the capacity certainly has: LTO 1 had a native capacity of only 100 GB, today, LTO 5 can store 1'500 GB und the LTO Roadmap shows LTO 8 with a planned capacity of 12'800 GB!

On the Microsoft side of the industry, there was recently an idea to repeat a procedure initiated in the eighties in the phone industry: Back then, splitting up AT&T into the so-called "Baby Bells" did not really improve service or costs for the consumers in the long run. Read here about a proposal to break up Microsoft into a number of "Baby Bills".

In terms of mergers and acquisitions, the past weeks brought the acquisition of 3PAR thru HP and Isilon thru EMC. What's next? Compellent (CML), Coraid, CommVault (CVLT), Riverbed (RVBD)?
Related to Scale-Out NAS, at IBM we do our own development (as you may remember, we already sell the SONAS product since about 10 months) and have recently published very detailed material on how we plan to grow this architecture into an even more scalable and flexible cloud offering which can span across the globe seamlessly. Details about "Panache" are available on the IBM Research website here.

And lastly, the 16 Gbps Fibre Channel standard is ready to roll: FCIA has announced the completion of the new standard and we expect products to hit the market in first half of 2011. Interesting detail is, that the 16 Gbps transmission will be based on a new encoding scheme: 8 Gbps was based on 8b/10b enncoding while 16 Gbps will use 64b/66b, so less overhead and much more usable bandwidth for data!
Major drivers for deployment of 16 Gbps technology will be server virtualization (hundreds of servers in one system!) as well as use of SSD technology in storage arrays.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Major storage announcements today from IBM! Find all the details about this exciting launch on the IBM website.

Monday, September 27, 2010

September III

Breaking News: IBM to acquire BNT!

September II

Here's a quick roundup of the most interesting headlines in storage since Europe returned from summer vacation about three weeks ago.
The favorite subject of the news press and bloggers these days seems to be Oracle so these are the assorted news:

Mark Hurd leaves HP, joins Oracle.
Sam Palmisano comments on Oracle.
Does Oracle plan to buy Netapp?
Details on Oracle's Exalogic storage.

If you have not heard about the upcoming v4.1 NFS (network file system) here's an excellent summary of why this will be important.

On the networking side, both -Brocade and CISCO- announced new steps towards a converged network for the datacenter:

CISCO announces an advanced data center strategy inlcuding new Nexus converged switches featuring unified ports which support traditional Ethernet as well as Fibre Channel (FC) and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).

Brocade releases a network monitoring product ("Network Advisor") built to enable control and management for converged networks (IP, Ethernet, Fibre Channel) with one single tool.

IDC adds the tab for us and finds out, that during the first half of 2010 the storage industry returned to a healthy growth in terms of revenue and capacity growth (compared to a weak first half of 2009 of course).

Read the details and rankings here.

Looking into the distant future of storage, IBM Research issued a press release around studies done in their labs about "how long a single atom can hold information". Possible implications of this amazing research are outlined here.

And lastly here's a very funny clip about the daily routine of doing conference calls in a global economy!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Storage Buzz September

Summer is officially over, it's back to the office and end of sleeping in and travelling. Before I left, I came across this article from Steve Duplessie and I could not agree more! So I have tried to focus on really important things the past couple weeks (like holding up redwood trees...).
Here's a summary of what went on in the storage realm while I was gone:
  • An increasing amount of signs that the increase of aerial density for magentic discs eventually will hit a ceiling.
  • Probably related to that, an increased focus on offline and tape media. In this case Oracle agreeing with IBM on the importance of tape and rolling out the roadmap for their Tape and Library products inherited from Sun and STK.
  • Steady progress and advancements in the area of FCoE and 10 Gbit/s Ethernet.
  • Most recent acquisition object of desire: 3PAR. It will be interesting to see who ends up at the altar with the company who "invented" thin provisioning.
  • And while Isilon is not (yet) being taken over, this company may be one of the future targets of acquisition plans.
  • IBM takes over NAS data compression specialist Storwize and announces availability of V2 of its key management product TKLM (Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager) which now supports the KMIP standard.
  • Moshe Yanai, the founder and father of XIV off to new endeavors.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Storage Buzz July II

Couple of useful articles this week on data protection: IBM's Cindy Grossman as well as ESG's Steve Duplessie (based on a market study) comfirm that tape will have its place in data storage in the future!

Another proof that not everything is going to be "cloud", "virtual", and "solid-state" in the future is the shutdown of EMC's Atmos Cloud Service established only a year ago. Even EMC does not seem to have identified a viable business model for cloud storage yet, folks like to know where stuff is and like to have some amount of control over their data I would assume.

Magnetic disk technology further improves capacity and Seagate will ship their first 3 TB drive priced at 250 USD very soon.

And lastly, former Brocade CEO Greg Reyes was sentenced to 18 months in jail after another trial in San Francisco last week. As you may guess, the storage community has very mixed feelings and emotions about this trial as you can read here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Storage Buzz July

Rumours about a potential acquisition of Storwize, a US/Israel-based company, through IBM have been buzzing around the market recently. Storwize has been partnering with IBM for a while and their "RACE" (random access compression engine) based solution has been tested by IBM (see the joint whitepaper here). For IBM's newly found focus on file storage solutions, the acquisition could make a lot of sense and would nicely complement the block-storage ProtecTIER solutions.

Coming from the same geographical region, startup Anobit has announced plans to build enterprise class SSD storage based on the lower-cost MLC (multi-level-cell) SSD technology. If successful, this technology could actually speed up replacement of high-performance Fibre Channel and SAS drives with SSD based drives in enterprises. The Storage Magazin June issue had a couple of useful articles around the HDD vs. SSD topic and summarizes the status of the discussions pretty well.

And lastly, if you follow the "Fussball-Weltmeisterschaft", here's the most comprehensive overview tool by far!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Storage Buzz June III

Strange World these days: A storage company announces networking architectures and a networking company reveals NAS products:
Read here about the details of Brocade One and visit Amazon to order your next NAS system from CISCO!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Storage Buzz June II

Looks like our industry has finally turned the corner, here's the quarterly IDC report for worldwide external storage revenues (Press release):
Two facts are certainly noteworthy:
a) The capacity sold is back to a "healthy" +50% range growth year-over-year with worldwide shipments of 3400 Petabytes.
b) We have been expecting and forecasting huge growth in unstructered and NAS data - well it is showing in the latest report: The NAS market grew a remarkable 44% y/y!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Storage Buzz June

As we all know, the use of computing systems is no longer limited to what we traditionally call a "computer" but we create, manipulate, and retrieve data on phones, TVs, kitchen appliances and GPS devices among many others. Computers control and manage buildings, planes, trains, and cars. And computers can and will be "hacked"!
And that's where this very funny but also scary story starts: Car manufacturers have used for a couple of years a technology dubbed "CAN" (car area network) to control the dozens or hundreds of sensors, motors, and systems of a modern car.
Read here what could happen if somebody tampers with your car's electronic systems!
Note that the car shown here is in "PARK" while the speedometer indicates 140 MPH!

IBM Redbooks are a unique institution in the industry and have helped thousands of customers in the past decades to understand the how's and why's of IBM systems and products. Watch this funny video and hear why we love Redbooks!

And lastly, an update to the Fibre Channel market and the current trends in that segment of the industry as CISCO and Brocade announced their quarterly revenue numbers and are disputing who won and who lost market share.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Storage Buzz May II

Solid-state-disks are right at the top of the hype-cycle these days as the recent study published here shows.

And another article highlights, how the basics behind new storage tiers and how to use them have remained unchanged since the inception of memory: The famous Five-Minute-Rule.

Yet, there might be another good reason -besides performance- to look into SSD technology: Yelling at them does not harm data access!

For hard-disk drives, this is not the case as this funny video shows: Shouting at the poor drives can cause major I/O disruption. This is not a joke, and the IEEE actually did a paper to scientifically document errors caused be vibrations.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Storage Buzz May I

In an effort to contribute to the "greening" of storage, here's a couple noteworthy news from the last couple of weeks. As the picture here indicates, our greenest approach may not always exactly be what our customers and users like!
EPA - the US "environmental protection agency"- has started a project to develop product specifications for data center storage.

Computerworld's comment on the activity highlights the fact, that measuring standardized power consumption on storage systems will be
a difficult task, taking into account the complex internal architectures of storage systems and the multitude of optimizing tasks being performed under the hoods (e.g. defragmentation or deduplication).

While IBM and other vendors have announced LTO 5 and extended the roadmap for LTO up to generation 8 (with a quoted native capacity of 16 TB per cartridge!), Oracle went out of their way to convince Sun/STK customers that they will be continuing to develop and support the former STK tape products. The bad news: it will be more expensive and less flexible - as this article here outlines!

And lastly: more happy times ahead for the storage industry: IDC estimates that data created in 2020 will be around 35 zettabytes - an amazing number! Well, if today's situation is any indication, most of that data will not be created but duplicated or copied, not much of creativity around here!

Finally, if you think you hear lots of news and messages about FCoE but don't see many real-life implementations: you may be correct. Is FCoE overhyped?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Storage Buzz April

April was a big month for IBM Storage, here's an excellent summary of all the exciting news.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Storage Buzz March II

As the snow is slowly melting in my neighborhood, the economy seems to be slowly recovering as well, one immediate sign is the latest IDC report on the storage market:
Q4 in 2009 was reported to have shown the first y/y growth since Q3 2008 and the amount of Petabytes shipped grew 34% y/y.

Some other comments are almost overly optimistic, but the good news is: The (spending) freeze finally seems to be over!

Another development this week worthwhile noting is the breakup between Oracle/Sun and HDS: As Hu Yoshida outlines in his post, the two companies will go separate ways. So obviously the question arises: Who will be able to take advantage of this new situation in the market?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Storage Buzz March

Zuerst ein Hinweis für meine deutschsprachigen Leser: Das bekannte IBM Storage Kompendium meiner IBM Kollegen Kurt Gerecke und Klemens Poschke ist in einer neuen, nachgeführten Auflage erschienen: Fast 60 Jahre Speichergeschichte zum nachschlagen und staunen!

And then, there's two interesting news related to diapers, beer, and relationships. One refers to the break-up between HP and CISCO, the other one to some exciting research being done at the Zurich IBM Lab.

Storage tiering has recently become a really hot topic in the market again, mainly due to the introduction of solid-state-disk technology and the need to take maximum advantage of this (still) rather expensive type of storage. Where is should SSD be used? As a replacement for disk drives, as a less expensive type of disk-cache or maybe directly hooked to the server memory board, eliminating I/O alltogether?
After reading this article, you may want to think twice about deploying (and managing!) a tiered storage architecture.
With every new year, the demise of FC based SANs is being moved out further into the future: While initially -when the FCoE hpye first took off- 2011 was supposed to be the year of FCoE, this latest study now puts that date as far as 2013, or maybe 2014...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

SAN Buzz, February 2010

A number of exciting storage announcements last week from IBM, read the summary here.

Most noteably the SONAS system created lots of interest. You can find details about it on IBM's storage website.

In addition, I have summarized a couple of valuable press articles about the scale-out-NAS topic for you:
  1. Computerworld
  2. DrunkenData
  3. The Register
  4. SearchStorage
  5. SFGate
  6. Storage Newsletter

Related to the ever-present cost discussions in datacenters, this article discusses the real or perceived cost advantages of FCoE.

While Hu Yoshida in his well written post asks the question you have had in your mind probably as well: "If I'm doing more with less people and disks are getting cheaper, why are my costs increasing?"

His answer to the problem is "storage virtualization" and I absolutely have to agree!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Storage Buzz January 2010

I took a work related break to blogging. Today I am back with the firm intent to return to a regular update scheme!

The focus of my blog will slightly change to a more general view and news on storage and all the "buzzwords du jour" related to it.

One of them is certainly "Clouds" in all shapes and colors. You can test your cloud knowledge here!

A few of us, however, are convinced that the current cloud-hype will go away as it happened to similar concepts in the past. I couldn't agree more!

A very down-to-earth and proven technology got a major boost just this week when IBM Research demonstrated a new record breaking 29 billio bits per square inch of data density on a tape device.
See the video here!
If you wonder who is going to use all that capacity, check out the latest "How Much Information" report, released end of 2009.

On the business side, Oracle finalized the acquisition of Sun this week and was quick to assure their customers that they have a solid roadmap for the former STK and Sun storage products. Which remains to be seen...
The overall outlook for the 2010 storage market seems to be rather bright: An increasing number of reports indicate that the worst may be over (here and here).
Which is no surprise taking into account the steady increase of amounts of data all companies, small and large are supposed to handle and manage!
(For your reference: the IDC and Gartner numbers for Q3 2009)