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StorageIO industry trends cloud, virtualization and big data


Last week Imation,  the company that is known for making CDs, DVDs, magnetic tape and in the past floppy disk (diskettes)  bought Nexsan, a company known for the  SATA and SAS storage products.


Imation is also (or should be) owns the TDK and Memorex names  (remember is it real or is it Memorex? If not Google it). They also have had for  several years removable hard disk  drive (RHDD) products  including the Odyssey (I am in the process of retiring mine), as well as partnership with the former  ProStor for RDX and having acquired some of the assets of ProStor namely their  RDX based InifiVault storage appliance. Imation has also been involved in some  other things including USB and other forms of flash-based solid state devices (SSD), as well as a couple of years (2007) they launched cloud  backup with DataGuard before cloud backup had become a popular buzzword  topic.


Imation has also divested parts of its business over past several years  including some medical related (X-ray stuff) to Kodak who occupies part of the  headquarter building in Oakdale MN, or at least last time I looked when driving  by there on way from the airport. They also divested their SAN lab with some of  the staff going to Glasshouse and other pieces going to Lion bridge (an  independent test lab company). Beyond traditional of data protection, backup/restore and  archiving media or mediums from consumer to large-scale enterprise, Imation has  also been involved in other areas involving recording. Imation also has done  some other recent acquisitions around dedupe (Nine Technologies).


For its part,  Nexsan has extended their portfolio from SATA and SAS products, AutoMaid Intelligent  Power Management (IPM) which gives benefits of variable power and  performance without the penalties of first generation MAID type products. Read  more about IPM and related themes here, here and here. Nexsan also supports NAS and  iSCSI solutions in addition to their archive and content or object storage  focused Assureon product they bought a few years ago.


This is a good acquisition for both companies as it gives  Imation a new set of products to sell into their existing accounts and channels.  It also can leverage Nexsan's channel and solution selling skills giving them (Nexsan)  a bigger brand and large parent for credibility (not that they did not have  that in the past).


Here  are is a link to a piece done by Dave  Raffo that includes some comments and perspectives from me. To say that the  synergy here is about archiving or selling SSD or storage would be too easy and  miss a bigger potential. That potential is Imation has been in the business of  selling consumable accessories for protecting and preserving data. Notice I  said consumable accessories which in the past has meant manufacturing  consumable media (e.g. Floppy disks or discs, CD, DVDs, magnetic tapes) as well  as partnering around flash and HDDs.


In many environments from small to large to super-sized  cloud and service providers, some types of storage systems including some of  those that Nexsan sells can be considered a consumable media or medium taking  over the role that tape, CDs or DVDs have been used in the pat. Instead of  using tape or CDs or DVDs to protect the HDDs and SSDs based data, HDD based  solutions are being used for disk-to-disk (D2D) protection (part of modernizing data protection).  D2D is being done as appliances, or in conjunction with cloud and object storage system  software stacks such as OpenStack swift, Basho Riak CS, CloudStack, Cleversafe, Ceph, Caringo and a list of  others, in addition to appliances such as EMC ATMOS among others than can  support 3rd party storage device as consumable mediums. Keep in mind  that there  is no such thing as a data or information recession, and people and data are living longer and  getting larger, both for big  data and little data.


The big if in this acquisition which IMHO is a fair price  for both parties based on realistic valuations is if they can collective  execute on it. This means that Imation and Nexsan need to leverage each other’s  strengths, address any weakness, close gaps and expand into each other’s  markets, channels and sell the entire portfolio as opposed to becoming singular  focused on a particular area tool or technology. If Imation can execute on this  and Nexsan leverages their new parent, the result should be moving from the  roughly $85M USD sales to $100M+ then $125M then $150M and so forth over the  next couple of years.


Even if Imation keeps maintains revenues or a slight increase,  which would also be a good deal for them, granted the industry pundits may not  agree, so let us see where this is in a few years. However if Imation can grow  the Nexsan business, then it would become a very good deal. Thus, IMHO the  price valuation for the deal has the risk built into, something like when NetApp bought the Engenio business  unit from LSI back in 2011 for about $480M USD. At that time, Engenio was  doing about $705M USD in revenue and seen by many industry pundits as being on  the decline, thus a lower valuation. For its part, NetApp, has been executing  maintaining the revenue of that business unit with some expansion, thus their  execution so far is being rewarding for taking the risk.


Let us see if Imation can do the same thing.


Now, does that mean that Nexsan was the last of the independent  storage vendors left?


Hardly, after all there is still Xiotech, excuse me, Xio  as they changed their name as part of a repackaging, relaunch and downsizing.  There is DotHill who supplies partners such HP, or Dothills former partner  supplier InfoTrend. If you are an Apple fan then you might know about Promise,  if not, you should. Lets not forget Starboard formerly known as RelData, about Data Direct Networks (DDN) that is  still independent and at around $200M (give or take several million) in revenue,  are very much still around.


How about Xyratex, sure they make the enclosures and  appliances that many others use in their solutions, however they also have a  storage solutions business focused on scale out, clustered and grid NAS based  on Lustre. There are some others that I am drawing a blank on now (if you  read this and are one of them, chime in) in addition to all the new or  current generation of startups (you can chime in as well to let people know who  you are to be bought).


There is still consolidation taking place, both of  smaller vendors by mid-sized vendors, mid-sized vendors by big vendors, big  vendors by mega vendors, and startups by established.


Again congratulations to both Imation and Nexsan, let us  see who or what is next on the 2013 mergers and acquisition list, as well as who will  join the where are they now club.


Disclosure: Nexsan has been  a StorageIO client in the past; however, Imation has not been a client,  although they have bought me lunch before here in the Stillwater, MN area.


With Imation having their own brand name and identity,  not to mention TDK and Memorex, now I have to wonder will Nexsan be real or  Memorex or something else?


Ok,  nuff said.

Cheers gs

StorageIO industry trends cloud, virtualization and big data


This is the first of a two-part industry trends and  perspectives series looking at how to learn from cloud outages (read part  II here).


In case you missed it, there were some public cloud  outages during the recent Christmas 2012-holiday season. One incident involved Microsoft  Xbox (view the Microsoft Azure  status dashboard here) users were impacted, and the other was another Amazon Web Services (AWS) incident. Microsoft and AWS are not alone, most if not  all cloud services have had some type of incident and have gone on to improve  from those outages. Google has had issues with different applications and services  including some in December 2012 along with a Gmail  incident that received covered back in 2011.


For those interested, here is a link to the AWS status dashboard and a link to the AWS December  24 2012 incident postmortem. In the case of the recent AWS incident which affected  users such as Netflix, the incident (read the AWS postmortem and Netflix postmortem) was tied to a human  error. This is not to say  AWS has more outages or incidents vs. others including Microsoft, it just seems  that we hear more about AWS when things happen compared to others. That could  be due to AWS size and arguably market leading status, diversity of services and scale at which some of their clients are using them.


Btw, if you were not aware, Microsoft  Azure is more than just about supporting SQLserver, Exchange, SharePoint or  Office, it is also an IaaS layer for running virtual machines such as Hyper-V,  as well as a storage target for storing data. You can use Microsoft Azure  storage services as a target for backing up or archiving or as general storage,  similar to using AWS S3 or Rackspace Cloud files or other services. Some backup and archiving AaaS and SaaS providers including Evault partner with  Microsoft Azure as a storage repository target.


When reading some of the coverage of these recent cloud incidents, I am not  sure if I am more amazed by some of the marketing cloud washing, or the cloud  bashing and uniformed reporting or lack of research and insight. Then again, if someone repeats a  myth often enough for others to hear and repeat, as it gets amplified, the myth may assume status of reality. After all, you may know the expression  that if it is on the  internet then it must be true?


Image of lightning striking a building
Images licensed for use by StorageIO via Atomazul /


Have AWS and  public cloud services become a lightning rod for when things go wrong?


Here is some coverage of various cloud incidents:


The above are a small sampling of different stories, articles,  columns, blogs, perspectives about cloud services outages or other  incidents. Assuming the services are available, you can Google or Bing many  others along with reading postmortems to gain insight into what happened, the cause, effect and how to prevent in the future.


Do  these recent incidents show a trend of increased cloud outages? Alternatively,  do they say that the cloud services are being used more and on a larger basis,  thus the impacts become more known?


Perhaps it is a mix of the above, and like when a magnetic storage tape gets lost or stolen, it makes for good news or copy, something to write about. Granted there are fewer tapes actually lost than in the past, and far fewer vs. lost or stolen laptops  and other devices with data on them. There are probably other reasons  such as the lightning rod effect given how much industry hype around clouds  that when something does happen, the cynics or foes come out in force,  sometimes with FUD.


Similar to traditional hardware or software  based product vendors, some service providers have even tried to convince me  that they have never had an incident, lost or corrupted or compromised any  data, yeah, right. Candidly, I put more credibility and confidence in a vendor  or solution provider who tells me that they have had incidents and taken steps  to prevent them from recurring. Granted those steps might be made public while others  might be under NDA, at least they are learning and implementing improvements.


As part of gaining insights, here are some links to AWS,  Google, Microsoft Azure and other service status dashboards where you can view  current and past situations.



What is your take on IT clouds? Click here to cast your  vote and see what others are thinking about clouds.


Ok, nuff said for now (check out part II here )


Disclosure: I am a customer of AWS for EC2, EBS, S3 and  Glacier as well as a customer of Bluehost for hosting and Rackspace for  backups. Other than Amazon being a seller of my books (and my blog via Kindle)  along with running ads on my sites and being an Amazon Associates member  (Google also has ads), none of those mentioned are or have been StorageIO  clients.


Cheers gs

StorageIO industry trends cloud, virtualization and big data


My copy of the new book The Human Face of Big Data created by Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt arrived yesterday compliments of EMC (the lead sponsor).  In addition to EMC, the other sponsors of the book are Cisco, VMware, FedEx, Originate and Tableau software.


To say this is a big book would be an understatement, then again, big data is a big topic with a lot of diversity if you open your eyes and think in a pragmatic way, which once you open and see the pages you will see. This is physically a big book (11x 14 inches) with lots of pictures, texts, stories, factoids and thought stimulating information of the many facets and dimensions of big data across 224 pages.


Image of the Human Face of Big Data Book


While Big Data as a buzzword and industry topic theme might be new, along with some of the related technologies, techniques and focus areas, other as aspects have been around for some time. Big data means many things to various people depending on their focus or areas of interest ranging from analytics to images, videos and other big files. A common theme is the fact that there is no such thing as an information or data recession, and that people and data are living longer, getting larger, and we are all addicted to information for various reasons.


Big data needs to be protected and preserved as it has value, or its value can increase over time as new ways to leverage it are discovered which also leads to changing data access and life cycle patterns. With many faces, facets and areas of interests applying to various spheres of influence, big data is not limited to programmatic, scientific, analytical or research, yet there are many current and use cases in those areas.


Big data is not limited to videos for security surveillance, entertainment, telemetry, audio, social media, energy exploration, geosciences, seismic, forecasting or simulation, yet those have been areas of focus for years. Some big data files or objects are millions of bytes (MBytes), billion of bytes (GBytes) or trillion of bytes (TBytes) in size that when put into file systems or object repositories, add up to Exabytes (EB - 1000 TBytes) or Zettabytes (ZB - 1000 EBs). Now if you think those numbers are far-fetched, simply look back to when you thought a TByte, GByte let alone a MByte was big or far-fetched future. Remember, there is no such thing as a data or information recession, people and data are living longer and getting larger.


Big data is more than hadoop, map reduce, SAS or other programmatic and analytical focused tool, solution or platform, yet those all have been and will be significant focus areas in the future. This also means big data is more than data warehouse, data mart, data mining, social media and event or activity log processing which also are main parts have continued roles going forward. Just as there are large MByte, GByte or TByte sized files or objects, there are also millions and billions of smaller files, objects or pieces of information that are part of the big data universe.


You can take a narrow, product, platform, tool, process, approach, application, sphere of influence or domain of interest view towards big data, or a pragmatic view of the various faces and facets. Of course you can also spin everything that is not little-data to be big data and that is where some of the BS about big data comes from. Big data is not exclusive to the data scientist, researchers, academia, governments or analysts, yet there are areas of focus where those are important. What this means is that there are other areas of big data that do not need a data science, computer science, mathematical, statistician, Doctoral Phd or other advanced degree or training, in other words big data is for everybody.


Cover image of Human Face of Big Data Book


Back to how big this book is in both physical size, as well as rich content. Note the size of The Human Face of Big Data book in the adjacent image  that for comparison purposes has a copy of my last book Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC), along with a 2.5 inch hard disk drive (HDD) and a growler. The Growler is from Lift Bridge Brewery (Stillwater, MN), after all, reading a big book about big data can create the need for a big beer to address a big thirst for information ;).


The Human Face of Big Data is more than a coffee table or picture book as it is full of with information, factoids and perspectives how information and data surround us every day. Check out the image below and note the 2.5 inch HDD sitting on the top right hand corner of the page above the text. Open up a copy of The Human Face of Big Data and you will see examples of how data and information are all around us, and our dependence upon it.


A look inside the book The Humand Face of Big Data image


Book Details:
Copyright 2012
Against All Odds Productions
ISBN 978-1-4549-0827-2
Hardcover 224 pages, 11 x 0.9 x 14 inches
4.8 pounds, English


There is also an applet to view related videos and images found in the book at in addition to other material on the companion site


Get your copy of   The Human Face of Big Data at by clicking here or at other venues including by clicking on the following image (


Some added and related material:
Little data, big data and very big data (VBD) or big BS?
How many degrees separate you and your  information?
Hardware, Software,  what about Valueware?
Changing Lifecycles and Data Footprint Reduction (Data doesnt have to lose value over time)
  Garbage data in, garbage information out, big data or big garbage?
  Industry adoption vs. industry deployment, is there a difference?
  Is There a Data and I/O Activity Recession?
  Industry trend: People plus data are aging and living longer
  Supporting IT growth demand during economic uncertain times
  No Such Thing as an Information Recession


For those who can see big data in a broad and pragmatic  way, perhaps using the visualization aspect this book brings forth the idea that there are and will  be many opportunities. Then again for those who have a narrow or specific  view of what is or is not big data, there is so much of it around and various  types along with focus areas you too will see some benefits.


Do you want to play in or be part of a big data puddle,  pond, or lake, or sail and explore the oceans of big data and all the different  aspects found in, under and around those bigger broader bodies of water.


Bottom line, this is a great book and read regardless of if you are involved with data and information related topics or themes, the format and design lend itself to any audience. Broaden your horizons, open your eyes, ears and thinking to the many facets and faces of big data that are all around us by getting your copy of The Human Face of Big Data (Click here to go to Amazon for your copy) book.


Ok, nuff said.


Cheers gs


StorageIO News Letter Image December 2012 News letter

Welcome to the December 2012 year end  edition of the StorageIO Update news letter including a new format and added content.

You can get access to this news letter via various social media venues (some are shown below) in addition to StorageIO web sites and subscriptions.

Click on the following links to view the December 2012 edition as brief (short HTML sent via Email) version, or the full HTML or PDF versions.

Visit the news letter page to view previous editions of the StorageIO Update.


You can subscribe to the news letter by clicking here.

Enjoy this edition of the StorageIO Update news letter, let me know your comments and feedback.

Nuff said for now