Friday, September 20, 2013

September II

Lots of news these days, so time for an update and summary. As always in September, industry analysts did release their assessment of the 2013 Q2 storage market.
I have compiled the facts and comments for you - here as a general statement: "...Worldwide external disk storage systems factory revenues posted a year-over-year decline of -0.8%, totaling just over $5.9 billion, in the second quarter of 2013 (2Q13), according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker. For the quarter, the total (internal plus external) disk storage systems market generated $7.7 billion in revenue, representing a -5.0% decline from the prior year's second quarter and a slight sequential decline compared to the first quarter of 2013. Total disk storage systems capacity shipped reached 8.2 exabytes, growing 21.5% year over year."
  • IDC Press Release and summary of report with market numbers here.
  • Computerworld comment here. (by Lucas Mearian)
  • The Register comment here. (by Chris Mellor)
  • And some more detailed numbers for EMEA specifically here. (by our friends at StorageNewsletter)

In the midterm, the Gartners, IDCs and the likes will have to figure out if they eventually need to include storage provisioned thru cloud services as well? As of today, I think the capacities sold and installed off-premises by companies like Amazon Webservices, Rackspace or Google are not accounted for...they don't procure systems from the legacy storage vendors in most cases, so don't show up in the statistics here!

And actually this links right into the next topic: an interesting podcast by Jon Toigo on cloud:
"...I did think that maybe one of the better models for cloud going forward -- a sustainable business model for cloud, would be cloud that is specialized in holding huge repositories of certain kinds of data. I asked experts about this. Jeff Jonas at IBM, I asked him, would it make sense for a cloud service provider to stand up big data so I don't have to buy the infrastructure myself?"

And in that same week a statement from NetApp on how they think their systems will interact and integrate with the cloud, I personally think they have a great story there: they have rolled out DOT 8.2 starting this year which enables clustered Data ONTAP and adding cloud gateway capability and a couple interfaces to public cloud services should not represent a major hurdle.
See the short 2' video clip here.
But ultimately, it will be our customers call to decide if and how they will entrust their data to any form of "cloud", see the five reasons for - and five reasons against doing it...great writeup by Trevor Pott: "The cloud will inevitably replace all other forms of IT? The cloud is a passing fad?"

And lastly in a surprise but important move, CISCO announced its intent to acquire Whiptail, a vendor of Flash Storage systems. While CISCO in their own press release emphasize the use of Whiptail technology inside their UCS servers, the rest of the industry sees this move mostly as a way of CISCO to expanding their reach into storage. Read this great analysis here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Today I'll continue with a couple flash topics from last month and provide some links and comments regarding the news and developments announced at the recent VMworld conference.

When the SSD hype started first around 2007/2008, there was a widespread belief that SSD would be a temporary and intermediate technology: The "write penalty" and very limited durability seemed to be obstacles to a successful use and implementation in enterprise storage systems. Now, the industry has fixed many of these issues, partly by using smart controller designs (wear-leveling) partly by improving SSD core technology (eMLC, TLC, 3D-Flash, ...)
At the same time, industrialization of more advanced "storage class memory" like PCM (phase change memory) and MRAM (magnetoresistive random access memory) has taken a backseat to the current hype around NAND flash. Read the complete analysis in CW here:
"It's going to be a long time until NAND flash runs out of steam," said Jim Handy, an analyst at Objective Analysis, during a presentation."

There's an interesting possible combination of technologies which so far (to my knowledge) has not been productized: Flash storage and deduplication: Greenbites proposes the use of Flash storage to achieve " ...deduplication tech that has near-zero latency and possibly offers the world's fastest in line deduplication." Seems to make a lot of sense: deduplication has an inherent requirement for very low latency read operations (to compare data patterns while deduplicating at ingest) and Flash is still a very expensive way to store data -so you want to avoid duplicate data. Combining the two seems kind of obvious!
And Violin, one of the most visible startups in the realm of Flash Systems, is getting ready to an IPO!
Looking at how detached from the real-world economy Wall St. recently seems to be, I'm honestly not sure that's a good thing - but some people will earn some serious money...

Unrelated to Flash, the article here caught my interest: "On Tuesday, Nasuni introduced a cloud-to-cloud mirroring option to give customers extra assurance that their data will be available in case of a service outage. The same day, cloud-to-cloud backup vendor Backupify added more choices for where users can have their data sent."
We all have heard about the outages of the likes of Amazon and Google, so backing up your data in multiple clouds seems to be the smart thing to do! Here's a nice way to visualize this (and I wonder how long it will take until we see cloud companies with meteorology-names like Cumulus and Nimbostratus...

On to VMworld which took place in San Francisco (unfortunately, I did not attend but supposedly 22'000 folks did!): while they had a zillion of press releases and announcements, many of the new functions and strategies revolve around two areas: The network and storage.
"VMware NSX is a software-defined network (SDN) that uses controllers and overlay networking. I'll examine just a few of the key aspects of the announcement and how they apply to your data center strategy." See additional background here.

Not to be confused with CISCO VSANs, the storage integration/tiering functions in VMware are now captured under that same terminology: " VMware launched the public beta of VSAN (virtual SAN), its software for pooling server-based flash among multiple physical servers. VSAN creates what is effectively a hybrid storage array using flash and hard disk drives on each of a cluster of servers."