Monthly Archives: October 2011

Australian Insurance Company realises that FLASH is the new DISK!

By Clive Gold, CTO Marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand.

A large insurance company in Australia is replacing a popular unified storage system with VNX as their average utilisation was 30%, and could not be improved! In the past I’ve been critical of vendors who’s systems do not provide a very good conversion of RAW to USABLE! The engineering decisions made traded off capacity utilisation for other features or functions. However that is not the case here!!

In this case the reason the drives could not be completely utilised was performance! This particular vendor has not evolved their architecture and hence has to use striping to beef up performance.  The I/O requirements meant that they had to size the array on the number of spindles resulting in a massive cost per Byte stored.

I’m not here to pick on this particular vendor but to highlight how important this transition issue is and why FLASH is critical to your future. Moore’s law means that every 18 months the CPU’s double in performance. This means that you need to provide twice the I/O capability to balance the compute model. In the old world, that meant you need to double the number of spindles every 18months, or you waste the computing power.

If you do the maths, today the average server needs 3912 drives to meet the potential demand. (I know I will get arguments about cache etc..) That is lots and the cause of this 30% problem today, the kicker is in five years’ time, you will need over 40 thousand drives per server!!   The old model is broken!!

Hence when you look under the covers of the VNX you discover the multiple dimensions of scaling that are available to support this rapid evolution into a FLASH rich storage array.  So in summary.. it does seem like FLASH is the new disk… and if you speak to us about protecting your data you soon realise that Disk is the new Tape!!

Advertisements

Can you really ask about ‘Cloud Storage’?

By Clive Gold, CTO Marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand.

There has been a debate raging on the SNIA Linkedin page about ‘Cloud Storage’,  (here).  A question posed by Rodney Haywood of Alphawest/Optus, (@rodos also a SNIA board member), has spawned a discussion between analyst Kevin McIsaac (IBRS) and practitioner Siobhan Ellis (HP/EDS). While there seems to be some level of agreement I do seem to sense, reading between the lines, that there is a marked difference between people to ‘talk’ and people who ‘do’.  (I do place myself in the first category.)

No offence Rodos, but I don’t think the question you posed is valid, anymore. My rationale is that today people are interested in the end not the means. For example your Optus Elevate service deliver’s a financial alternative; ‘rent’ a machine rather than purchase one. It provides agility; run up an application in minutes rather than weeks or months.  We know to provide these services you are in the ‘cloud storage’ business, but I’m sure ‘cloud storage’ was not top of mind when your customers made their decision.  Obviously, my job is to make sure your customers do care and hopefully ask if the storage you use is the best technology, most reliable, etc.. (read the EMC brochure)… similar to what Intel did with the ‘Intel Inside’ campaign!

The other issue about this question, as Kevin pointed out, there are so many use cases, today storage is ubiquitous!  I think the quesiton has to have a narrower scope, eliminate fast and big for a start. Unlike some of the pollies, that blatantly ignore basic physics in their arguments about the NBN, putting a wide area network between the server and storage when very fast response times/low latency OR masses of data are involved, is simply out of the question. High transaction throughput systems will just not work over a wide area network. Moving TBs to PBs of data, in meaningful timeframes, can’t be done over a wide area network. Please challenge me on this!

The good news is that these systems are the outlying ones, and the majority of ‘use cases’ fit between these extremes!  So what is the reality? What are you thinking about or using? Why not join the discussion? Sign up here,
and lets hear your point of view.

Aside

By Clive Gold, CTO Marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand. Funny how sitting back and listening brings you new insights! I was starting to think that all hypervisors were the same. Reading the press gives you the opinion that this … Continue reading

Top of mind stuff from vForum.

By Clive Gold, CTO Marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand.

Unless you were under a rock this week you would know that vForum was on in Sydney, and it was HUGE! I’m going to drill down into a couple of areas but here is a quick take of my thoughts:-
– This part of the industry is on-fire! I have never been to a local IT event with over 5000 people there, with lots of logo’s I do not recognise and a general buzz that indicates something is happening.
– Hypervisors are nowhere near commoditised! I had a developing impression that the basic hypervisor wars were over and there was general agreement that they were a much of a muchness. How wrong was I, look under the covers and ESx is the only ‘bare metal’ architecture, this thin approach means less security risk, less baggage, and better outlook for the future. Think about a post general operating system world.
– Management built for the virtual world is here! The VMware management suites are worth a look at. They close the loop on infrastructure management and also now address areas like database lifecycle management. The new ‘paradigm’ (sorry), to the world of IT service management is here. You just have to love a management screen that just has three dashboard numbers on it! Also a drill down that says in how many days you will run out of a certain resource!! Like a car, a fuel gage that says how many km you have left in the tank.
– Consumer’ising Enterprise IT- Lots of talk about the post-PC era and there are two things to look out for, Appblast…which turns any application into HTML 5. That means any device anywhere! Secondly the last session I went to the presenter asked how many people were using dropbox… about a third of the audience… then he asked, ‘how many of your companies sanction the use?’, all but two hands went down!! He then introduced Project Octopus, (www.vmwareoctopus.com), a converged social, email, repository and messaging platform for the enterprise. (Now I understand why VMware took over the running and development of Mozy!)

Lastly, the event kind of felt like ‘home’, lots of people you know and have worked with in past lives all there. Some faces you recognise and others you had to look at their name badge for their current employer as well as their name. Just one big happy family this IT industry of ours!

Unix is Dead! (Or at least its creator)

By Clive Gold, CTO Marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand.

This week Dennis Ritchie died. For those who don’t recognise his name, he was the creator of the C language and with Ken Thompson created Unix. My introduction to ‘real’ computing was with Unix at Hewlett Packard and I spend the next 15 years involved in this area with companies like Pyramid Technology, (enterprise SMB based Unix servers).

I remember when you could not read a magazine without some discussion about Unix System Five, now I don’t even know who owns the rights to the code. Was it
Novell that purchased them?

The key issue to my mind is that so much of today’s computing owes its existence to Unix. I would suggest that the largest company in the world today is Unix based! Apples OS X is a Unix derivative and so I’m assuming that OS 5 would also be!

You could argue that the most disruptive technology in the operating system market has been Linux. Today it’s hard to name an electronic device that doesn’t have a version that is based on a Linux based derivative, from phones to high performance computing.

I find it a bit sad, (being a technologist), that his death was hardly reported, from a technology point of view he certainly made a massive contribution to our industry.

Are Industry Associations Snorage or Hype-Busters?

By Clive Gold, CTO Marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand.

As soon as I say “Storage Networking”, you will glaze over and think… “storage is snoreage” and if there is no ‘social’ before ‘networking’ who cares!  However consider that in IT, there just might be a small chance, that a few isolated vendors, possibly over-exaggerate or over-hype new technologies. I would argue having an independent voice in this market can provide you with a great deal of value!

Quick background, SNIA is the Storage Networking Industry Association, a body formed by the industry to drive standards and best practices associated with ‘storage’. In the past this body has been responsible for driving standards around storage management, storage protocols such as Object-based and iSCSI, etc.  Last week I was in the USA at SNW, (Storage Networking World) as I chair the International Steering Committee for SNIA, which represents the 7 regional affiliates to the ‘core’ of SNIA. (ANZ, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Japan, and South Asia).

So the question is, with a name like ‘Storage Networking’ which is so 2000’s, why does this association continue to exist? The answer is like EMC, SNIA has expanded its focus but is battling with its brand perception. Have a look at the agenda from last week, (Agenda and Pressos here), and in particular search for the “SNIA Tutorials”.

What you will find are a number of topics that you would expect, core storage related like, “Advanced Deduplication Concepts”, “Benefits of Solid State in Enterprise Storage Systems”. Don’t stop as you will notice a move to the virtual world, e.g. “pNFS & NFSv4.2: A Filesystem for Grid, Virtualization and Database”, “Storage Optimization for Virtual Desktops”, etc.  But it doesn’t stop  there, as the market has done SNIA moves from virtualisation to cloud. Sessions like: “Interoperable Cloud Storage with the CDMI Standard”. (“Cloud Data Management Interface” was the first standard for cloud storage and has begun being built into products on the market.)

Now it starts to get more interesting as a number of topics seem to move from the ‘core’ technology and more about how and why, titles like:

  • “A Hype-free Stroll Through Cloud Storage Security”
  • “Deploying Public, Private and Hybrid Storage Clouds”
  • “The Business Case for the Cloud”
  • “Enterprise Architecture and The Cloud”

How does that relate to ‘Storage Networking’, well it’s definitely about storage, no arguing there, and some would say you don’t have ‘cloud’ without networks.. so it’s perfectly relevant! It’s just about your ‘historic’ perception and the reality today!

To make it worse, your journey doesn’t stop there as you notice subjects that lead further from basic protocol standards, like, “Got Lawyers? They’ve Got Storage and ESI in the Cross-Hairs”, “Bringing Light to the “Digital Dark Age” – Preserving Digital Information for the Long Term”, “Can U B Social? Defining Social Media For Your Organization”.

Have a look at some of the content, and even if you aren’t a “tech nerd”, I think you will see value in a consensus view! If you want to know more sign up at snia.org.au.  See you there!

Want ‘wheelbarrows of cash’ instead of budget cuts?

By Clive Gold, Marketing CTO, EMC Australia and New Zealand

Geoffrey Moore opened Storage Networking World with a thought provoking and well worked out summary, of what the current ‘IT Transformation’ is all about. He opened with the statement that ‘Enterprise IT is on hold, while consumer IT is on fire.’. He had me with that statement. Recently I saw IDC’s stats about the Australian IT market and was shocked to find out that the smartphone market is three times the size of the storage hardware market!

The ‘fire’ is being fuelled by the fact that we are digitising all of human culture, and today we live a digital mediated life. Leading to his first key point, that there are 3 forces in this consumer IT fire, which are now moving to the enterprise; Access to Information; Broadband; and Mobility.
Access:
‘Just google it!’ No one reads manuals, text books, asks the experts.. we just google it. Interestingly Geoffrey mentioned that for the enterprise, the idea of search has to expand to multiple datasources and this means that the google technology will be applicable because of the way it fundamentally works.
Broadband:
Not the same as above but his point was broadband moved the consumer from intellectual
to emotional. Interesting his argument is that moving from text to rich media has resulted in a move from a physical identity to digital identity. If you have teenage children you will identify with this!
Mobility:
This is about being omnipresent and Mr Moore reckons that this is the area that the enterprise is furthest along with.

Then the discussion moved on to outline how these forces will affect both B2B and B2C business. Quite differently.

For the B2B its all about moving, (or rather expanding,) from the traditional ‘transaction’ based computing, which is about systems of record, to ‘engagement’ computing. In essence he said that transaction IT is about automating processes and then summarising for senior management, now IT needs to provide what middle management needs. (Think about it for a while it makes sense!)

His advice was to find the ‘moment of truth” that defines your business success, then look for the person involved at this point, and work out how to improve that outcome. The idea is how can Enterprise versions of Facebook, YouTube, Search, an App Store, Twitter, On-demand Conferencing, Global Presence, Mobile Access to Everything, change that moment of truth?

From a B2C point of view Geoffrey outlined the four aspects of the ‘new business’. The enabler for these businesses is that access and experiments are essentially free. However the winners tend to first you find someone, then you get them engaged, you monetize that interaction and then you get them to recommend you to their friends. When you get these cogs working all at the same time, then you are a success.

The key here is that data is the driver, which leads to a number of interesting topics like, predictive analytics, collaborative, fraud detection, etc.

All very interesting but at the end the thought provoking idea is about expanding from transactions to interactions, which is from efficiency to effectiveness. So you want the money, you need to work out what makes your business more effective!