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2011

I will keep this simple and short.

 

For those of you in the US, happy fourth of July.

 

For those of you elsewhere, enjoy the nice weather while it lasts.

 

And to those who like fishing and catching, good luck.

 

After all, for those who at least give it or something a try, your chances of catching or succeeding increase, that is unless your version of fishing and catching is measured by simply going to the grocery store frozen food section, a seafood restaurant, or visiting your local fish monger.

 

A North American Bald Eagle fishing (and catching) on the St. Croix River near Stillwater MN - via www.karenofarcola.com

 

The above photo of a North American bald eagle was taken by Karen Schulz (Aka Karen of Arcola) while we were out fishing on the St. Croix River north of Stillwater MN. No telephoto or high powered zoom lenses or trick photography (or photo shop) were involved, we were simply out fishing (and catching) in our backyard at the right time and being in right place to have been able to catch this photo of the eagle fishing.

 

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend and or summer vacation (holiday for those outside the US).

 

Cheers Gs

Industry adoption and deployment may be one and the same depending on your viewpoint.

 

Industry Trends and Perspectives

 

However they can also mean different things depending on what you do or your area of interest.

 

For example, when I hear the term industry adoption that means that the industry (press, media, bloggers, analysts, consultants, evangelists, vendors, vars, investors) are talking about something as being common place.

 

On the other hand, when I hear industry deployment that means what customers or organizations are actually acquiring, deploying and routinely using on a broader scale. Sure they can and do often mean one and the same. However industry adoption in terms of things being talked about (socialized) often occurs before broad deployment.

 

Recently I heard a so called industry insider say that a particular technology had reached broad industry adoption. I asked the person if they meant that everyone (or at least in their social circles or community) was talking about it, aware of it with some use, or that everyone had deployed the technology. The person looked puzzled and asked what I meant and why would I care about adoption vs. deployment, there were one and the same. So I explained that there is a difference, one drives the other and that they are related, a cause and effect. Funny how some things resonate with customers however not always with so called industry insiders.

 

Industry Trends, Perspectives and Buzzword Bingo

 

Next time you hear someone tossing around buzzword bingo topics or themes in conjunction with the term industry adoption, ask them if that means people are talking about it, or that people are actually doing what is being discussed. Of course there will be people doing or deploying what is being discussed, those are the early adopters and deployers.

 

What does this have to do with anything?

 

Not much really other than to throw out some food for thought.

 

Perhaps if you are a customer to have some fun with the pundits, evangelist and industry insiders or when vendors and vars show up for a game of buzzword bingo. On the other hand, if you are a vendor or var, clarify with and where your customers are as well as how they evolving from adoption to deployment to demonstrate success.

 

Ok, nuf said for now.

 

Cheers Gs

I would like to take a moment to wish a happy 100th birthday (or anniversary) to entities (or items) that Im involved with in one form or another.

 

Both are technology and infrastructure related, both facilitate commerce and transportation and in active service.

 

One is a company known to many as IBM or International Business Machine Corporation that recently celebrated its 100th birthday. For anyone working or involved in some shape or form with computing or high technology, at some point in your life you most likely have directly or indirectly used something provided by IBM.

 

IBM 100th Anniversary

 

The other is the Arcola High Bridge aka Soo line railroad bridge that crosses the St. Croix River north of Stillwater (click here to see some old photos).

 

The Arcola High Bridge (or here) is still in use where trains cross it several times a day (and night) as well as where legends and ghost stories permeate. Keep in mind that even though IBM was in business when this bridge was designed and built, the sophisticated computers and software that enables structures to be efficiently built today did not exist. You could say that this old bridge was built to last which it has, particularly in an era where much younger infrastructure items either wear out or fail.

 

Happy 100th anniversary Arcola High Bridge on St. Croix River

 

Best wishes to both and hopefully many more.

 

Ok, nuff said for now

 

Cheers gs

Lets start out by clarifying something, that is in terms of context or scope, big means storage capacity as opposed to the physical packaging size of a hard disk drive (HDD) which are getting smaller.

 

So are HDDs in terms of storage capacity getting too big?

 

This question of if HDDs storage capacity getting to big to manage comes up every few years and it is the topic of Rick Vanovers (aka twitter @RickVanover Episode 27 Pod cast: Are hard drives getting too big?

 

Veeam community podcast guest appearance

 

As I discuss in this pod cast with Rick Vannover of Veeam, with the 2TB and even larger future 4TB, 8 to 9TB, 18TB, 36TB and 48 to 50TB drives not many years away, sure they are getting bigger (in terms of capacity) however we have been here before (or at least some of us have). We discuss how back in the late 90s HDDs were going from 5.25 inch to 3.5 inch (now they are going from 3.5 inch to 2.5 inch), and 9GB were big and seen as a scary proposition by some for doing RAID rebuilds, drive copy or backups among other things, not to mention if putting to many eggs (or data) in one basket.

 

In some instances vendors have been able to combine various technologies, algorithms and other techniques to RAID rebuild a 1TB or 2TB drive in the same or less amount of time as it used to take to process a 9GB HDD. However those improvements are not enough and more will be needed leveraging faster processors, IO busses and back planes, HDDs with more intelligence and performance, different algorithms and design best practices among other techniques that I discussed with Rick. After all, there is no such thing as a data recession with more information to be generated, processed, moved, stored, preserved and served in the future.

 

If you are interested in data storage, check out Ricks pod cast and hear some of our other discussion points including how SSD will help keep the HDD alive similar to how HDDs are offloading tape from their traditional backup role, each with its changing or expanding focus among other things.

 

On a related note, here is post about RAID remaining relevant yet continuing to evolve. We also talk about Hybrid Hard Disk Drives (HHDD) where in a single sealed HDD device there is flash and dram along with a spinning disk all managed by the drives internal processor with no external special software or hardware needed.

 

Listen to comments by Greg Schulz of StorageIO on HDD, HHDD, SSD, RAID and more

 

Put on your head phones (or not) and check out Ricks pod cast here (or on the head phone image above).

 

Thanks again Rick, really enjoyed being a guest on your show.

 

Whats your take, are HDDs getting to big in terms of capacity or do we need to leverage other tools, technology and techniques to be more effective in managing expanding data footprint including use of data footprint reduction (DFR) techniques?

 

Ok, nuff said for now.

 

Cheers gs

Have you heard about the open virtualization alliance (OVA), their kernel based virtual machine (KVM) and their diverse membership list?

 

If not, here is a link to the OVA FAQ, also take a moment and read this here that talks about OVA along with some perspectives commentary from others as well as myself.

 

Virtual Servers and Virtual Machines

Figure 1: Generic representation of virtual machines (VMs) and virtualized environment

 

In a nutshell, OVA can be seen by the faithful as a move or ploy to catch up and buck the success trend of VMware. To those who are not on the VMware bandwagon, this could be seen as a move to level the playing field for virtual machines, kernels and servers.

 

Yet to others, this can be seen as DejaVu to past attempts at operating systems or other technology alliances to bring parity to the ranks of those not at the top of the technology list of a particular topic, product or theme. For example, a decade or two ago, there were the various Unix groups (remember SCO etc?) that were attempted involving the late Ray Norda of Novell fame in a quest to battle Microsoft among others.

 

The industry road side is littered with alliances that either still exist yet collecting dust or that faltered. For storage people does anybody remember Aperi and how those in the IBM lead storage management alliance were all singing Kumbaya around a virtual campfire and later partnering with SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association)? Speaking of SNIA, anybody remember the various supported solutions forums (SSFs) popular back in the early 2000s as a means to demonstrate and stimulate interoperability between different vendors technologies?

 

Alliances are not bad, however generally to be successful, they have to exist for the right reasons in addition to being well funded, have strong leadership that also means having clear objectives to minimize chances of compromise by committee. While we are talking about alliances, have you heard about the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA)? The ODCA alliance of which StorageIO is a member is a bit different than many IT related groups in that it is customer or non vendor focused. ODCA has good potential for doing some interesting things as long as they do not get bogged down in bureaucracy as is to often the case with industry driven trade groups, associations or alliances.

 

Open Data Center Alliance Member

 

Lets see how these and other alliances move forward or what becomes of them, not to mention the expanding awareness around virtualization, life beyond consolidation (and here).

 

Whats your take on OVA and other alliances?

Here is a link where you can cast your vote in a poll and see what others are thinking about OVA and related themes.

 

Ok, nuff said for now.

 

Cheers gs

About a month ago I was invited by Dell to make a quick trip down to Orlando to attend the Dell Storage Forum 2011 (e.g. twitter #dellsf11). Given that on Tuesday June 7th Minneapolis was having a heat wave with 100 degree (F) temperatures, it was actually cooler in Orlando.

 

Dell Storage Forum

 

Make no mistake however, there were plenty of technologies that were cool and being kept cool at the Hilton adjacent to Disney as Dell continues to expand their footprint into the hot data storage market. The event brought together three aspects of the Dell storage story which were the mergers of the recently acquired Compellent user group with the Dell Equallogic user group along with the rest of the Dell storage and data management lineup. While the limelight was focused on Compellent and Equalogic, the Dell disk Dudes (and Dudettes e.g. Gina Rosenthal aka twitter @gminks and Sheryl Koenigsberg aka twitter @storagediva ) have been involved with storage for many years in addition to the recent acquisitions.

 

During the event I was invited to tag along with Roger Lund (twitter @rogerlund) an IT customer of Dells and Ed Saipetch (twitter @edsai) an Dell partner to go talk with the Dell NAS dudes (aka Unified, clustered, grid, rain, big data, bulk, scale out NAS) team formerly known as Exanet. The team is mix of Dell, former Exanet and new members who have been relatively quietly enhancing their technology in addition to creating packaged solution bundles with other Dell products such as the FS7500 (coupled with EqualLogic). For those not familiar with Exanet, have a read here or hear and for those not familiar with scale out NAS (aka bulk, grid, clustered, big data, etc) have a read here.

 

There are lots of interesting things in the works or possible and the team that we spoke with are full of energy, ideas, support from management not to mention having some interesting technology tools to work with ranging from Ocarina (data footprint reduction aka DFR), Kace, Scalent, Powervault MD series, servers and micro servers, not to mention EqualLogic and Compellent among others including those from various partners.

 

NAS was not the only thing cool at the event, there was the Dell object storage solution (aka DX) based on Caringo CAS (Content Addressable Storage) OEM software technology that has been the Rx (prescription) for healthcare, medical and other archives. Keep in mind that Dell also earlier this year acquired Insight one that just happens to be involved with healthcare and medical data or information management.

 

Speaking of archives and objects there was also some activity this past week with Dell and Rainstor making an announcement of their joint solutions in addition. Speaking of making sure that data on Dell storage remains available, accessible and protected, preserved and served, there were also backup/restore as well as many other pieces of technology, services and solutions. There was also a good presence by Dell partners at the event including Brocade, Commvault, Quantum and Symantec among others.

 

Greg Schulz on the Cube at Dell Storage Forum 2011

 

Here is a link to a video from when I was a guest with hosts Cali Lewis and John McArthur on the Wikibon/Silicon Angle The Cube show while at the Dell Event. During the discussion we had some fun as well as discussed not to be scared of clouds and virtualization, however look before you leap, doing your homework to be prepared along with other themes in my new book Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press).

 

Speaking of Dell, I had a nice conversation with Michael Dell during the storage beers tweet up. Did we talk about SMB or SOHO NAS, SSD, tape, HHDD, Brocade, block vs. file vs. object, data footprint reduction, big backup vs. big data, clouds, 3PAR, Equallogic vs. Compellent, HP vs. EMC?

 

Nope, we talked about the Dallas Mavericks (who went on to win the NBA title for 2011), social media and other items. If you have never meet Michael Dell, he is one of the most relaxed, confident and approachable CEOs of any big or large company I have meet.

 

In addition to visiting with Michael Dell, I also had the pleasure of meeting many other great people from Dell, their partners and others face to face including many twitter tweeps. All in all it was a great day and a half trip down to the Dell event, look forward to seeing and hearing more from Dell in the future.

 

Oh, and for disclosure purposes, Dell covered my RT coach class airfare while I picked up my own hotel, airport transfers, parking and incidentals.

Thanks again to Gina Rosenthal for making it all happen!

 

Ok, nuff said for now.

Cheers gs

Unified storage systems that support concurrent block, file and in some cases object based access have become popular in terms of industry adoption as well as customer deployments with solutions from many vendors across different price bands, or market (customer) sectors. Two companies that are leaders in this space are also squared off against each other (here and here) to compete for existing, each others, as well as new customers in adjacent or different markets. Those companies are EMC and NetApp that I have described as two similar companies on parallel tracks offset by time.

 

Two companies on parralel tracks offset by time

 

Recently I was asked to provide some commentary about unified storage systems in general, as well as EMC and NetApp that you can read here, or view additional commentary on related themes here, here and here. EMC has a historical block based storage DNA that has evolved to file and object based while NetApp originated in the file space having moved into block based storage along with object based access. EMC converged various product technologies including those developed organically (e.g. internally) as well as via acquisition as part of their unified approach. NetApp who has had a unified produce has more recently added a new line of block products with their acquisition of Engenio from LSI. Obviously there are many other vendors with unified storage solutions that are either native (e.g. the functionality is built into the actual technology) or by parterning with others to combine their block or file based solutions as a unified offering.

 

What is unified storage, what does it enable, and why is it popular now?
Over the past couple of years, multifunction systems that can do both block- and file-based storage have become more popular. These systems simplify the acquisition process by removing the need to choose while enabling flexibility to use something else later. NAS solutions have evolved to support both NFS and CIFS and other TCP-based protocols, including HTTP and FTP, concurrently. NAS or file sharing–based storage continues to gain popularity because of its ease of use and built-in data management capabilities. However, some applications, including Microsoft Exchange or databases, either require block-based storage using SAS, iSCSI, or Fibre Channel, or have manufacture configuration guidelines for block-based storage.

 

Multi protocol storage products enable the following:

  • Acquisition and installation without need for a specialist
  • Use by professionals with varied skills
  • Reprovisioning for different applications requirements
  • Expansion and upgrades to boost future capacity needs

 

Figure 1 shows variations of how storage systems, gateways, or appliances can provide multiple functionality support with various interfaces and protocols. The exact protocols, interfaces, and functionality supported by a given system, software stack, gateway, or appliance will vary by specific vendor implementation. Most solutions provide some combination of block and file storage, with increasing support for various object-based access as well. Some solutions provide multiple block protocols concurrently, while others support block, file, and object over Ethernet interfaces. In addition to various front-end or server and application-facing support, solutions also commonly utilize multiple back-end interfaces, protocols, and tiered storage media.

 

Unified and multiprotocol storage, learn more in Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011)

Figure 1: Multi protocol and function unified storage examples

 

For low-end SMB, ROBO, workgroup, SOHO, and consumers, the benefit of multi protocol and unified storage solutions is similar to that of a multifunction printer, copier, fax, and scanner—that is, many features and functionality in a common footprint that is easy to acquire, install, and use in an affordable manner.

 

For larger environments, the value proposition of multi protocol and multi functionality is the flexibility and ability to adapt to different usage scenarios that enable a storage system to take on more personalities. What this means is that by being able to support multiple interfaces and protocols along with different types of media and functionality, a storage system becomes multifunctional. A multifunction storage system may be configured for on-line primary storage with good availability and performance and for lower-cost, high-capacity storage in addition to being used as backup target. In other scenarios, a multifunction device may be configured to perform a single function with the idea of later redeploying it to use a different personality or mode of functionality.

 

An easy way to determine whether you need multi protocol storage is to look at your environment and requirements. If all you need is FC, FCoE, SAS, iSCSI, or NAS, and a multi protocol device is going to cost you more, it may not be a good fit.

 

If you think you may ever need multi protocol capability, and there’s no extra charge for it, go ahead. If you’re not being penalized in performance, extra management software fees, functionality or availability, and you have the capability, why wouldnt you implement a unified storage system?

Look for products that have the ability to scale to meet your current and future storage capacity, performance, and availability needs or that can coexist under common management with additional storage systems.

 

Vendors of unified storage in addition to EMC and NetApp include BlueArc, Fujitsu, Dell, Drobo, HDS (with BlueArc), HP, IBM, Huawei, Oracle, Overland, Quantum, Symantec and Synology among others.

 

So what does this all mean? Simple, if you are not already using unified storage in some shape or form, either at work or perhaps even at home, most likely it will be in your future. Thus the question of not if, rather when, where, with what and how.

 

Ok, nuff said for now.

Cheers gs

Here is a link to an interview that I did providing industry trends, perspectives and commentary on how Network Attached Storage (NAS) aka file and data sharing for the Small Medium Business (SMB), Small Office Home Office (SOHO) and consumer or low end offerings are gaining features and functionality traditionally associated with larger enterprise, however without the large price. In addition, here is a link to some tips for small business NAS storage and to another perspective on how choosing an SMB NAS is getting easier (and here for comments on unified storage).

 

Click on the image below to listen to a pod cast that I did with comments and perspectives involving SMB, SOHO, ROBO and low end NAS.

 

Listen to comments by Greg Schulz of StorageIO on SMB, SOHO, ROBO and lowend NAS

 

If your favorite or preferred product or vendor was not mentioned in the above links, dont worry, as with many media interviews there is a limited amount of time or narrow scope so those mentioned were among others in the space.

 

Speaking of others, there are many others in the broad and diverse SMB, SOHO, ROBO and consumer NAS and unified storage space. For example there are QNAP, SMC, Huawei, Buffalo, Synology and Starwind among many others. There is a lot of diversity in this NAS space. You've got Buffalo Technology, Cisco, Dlink, Dell, Data Robotic Drobo, EMC Iomega, Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. via Microsoft, Intel, Overland Storage Snap Server, Seagate Black Armour, Western Digital Corp., and many others. Some of these vendors are household names that you would expect to see in the upper SMB, mid sized environments, and even into the enterprise.

 

For those who have other favorites or want to add another vendor to those already mentioned above, feel free to respond with a polite comment below. Oh and for disclosure, I bought my SMB or low end NAS from Amazon.com and it is an Iomega IX4.

 

Ok, nuff said for now.

Cheers gs

For those who have read any of my previous posts, seen some of my articles, news letters, videos, pod casts, web casts or in person appearances you may have heard that I have a new book coming out this summer.

 

Here in the northern hemisphere its summer (well technically the solstice is just around the corner) and in Minnesota the ice (from the winter) is off the lakes and rivers. Granted, there is some ice floating that fell out of coolers for keeping beverages cool. This means that it is also fishing (and catching) season on the Scenic St. Croix River.

 

Karen of Arcola catches first fish of 2011 season, St. Croix river, stripe bassGreg showing his first catch of the 2011 season, St. Croix walleye aka Walter or Wanda

 

FTC disclosures (and for fun): Karenofarcola is wearing a StorageIO baseball cap and Im wearing a cap from a vendor marketing person who sent several as they too enjoy fishing and boating. Funny thing about the cap, all of the river rats and fishing people think it is from the people who make rod reels instead of solutions that go around tape and disk reels.

 

Note, if you feel compelled to send me baseball caps, send at least a pair so there is a backup, standby, spare or extra one for a guest. The mustang survival jacket that Im wearing with the Seadoo logo is something I bought myself. I did get a discount however since there was a Seadoo logo on it and I used to have Seadoo jet boats. Btw, that was some disclosure fun and humor!

 

Ok, enough of the fun stuff, lets get back to the main theme of this post.

 

My new book which is the third in a series of solo projects including Resilient Storage Networks: Designing Flexible Scalable Data Infrastructures (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC).

 

Resilient Storage NetworksThe Green and Virtual Data Center

 

While the official launch and general availability will be later in the summer, following are some links and related content to give you advance information about the new book.

 

Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking

 

Click on the above image which will take you to the CRC Press page where you can learn more including what the book is about, view a table of contents, see reviews and more. Also check out the video below to learn more as well as visit my main web site where you can learn about Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking, my other books and view (or listen to) related content such as white papers, solution briefs, articles, tips, web cast, pod cast as well as view the recent and upcoming events schedule.

 

 

I also invite you to join http://static01.linkedin.com/scds/common/u/img/webpromo/btn_cofollow_badge.png Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking group

 

You can also view the short video at dailymotion, metacage, blip.tv, veoh, flickr, and photobucket among other venues.

 

If you are interested in being a reviewer, send a note to cvdsn@storageio.com with your name, blog or website and contact information including shipping address (sorry no PO boxes) plus telephone (or skype) number. Also indicate if you are a blogger, press/media, free lance writer, analyst, consultant, var, vendor, investor, IT professional or other.

 

Watch for more news and information as we get closer to the formal launch and release, in the meantime, you can pre order your copy now at Amazon, CRC Press and other venues around the world.

 

Ok, time to get back to work or go fishing, nuff said

 

Cheers Gs

 

twitter @storageio

Here is a link to a web cast I recently recoreded lasting about 45 minutes. The web cast is titled: Cloud storage: Dont be scared, however look before you leap.

 

This web cast session takes a look at the state of public, private and hybrid cloud storage solutions and services including what you need to know to be prepared for a successful deployment. Topics covered include best practices, management and data protection in addition to navigating the hype and FUD associated with cloud storage today.

 

Cloud storage: Dont be scared, however look before you leap and do your homework

 

Check out the web cast either live or the replay later.

 

Cheers Gs

 

twitter @storageio