Category Archives: IBM
I have been an avid reader of SearchStorage Storage magazine for many years now and have been downloading their free PDF copy every month. Quietly snugged at the end of January 2012’s issue, there it was, the Storage magazine 6th annual Quality Awards for NAS.
I was pleasantly surprised with the results because in the previous annual awards, it would dominated by NetApp and EMC but this time around, a dark horse has emerged. It is Oracle who took top honours in both the Enterprise and the Mid-range categories.
The awards are the result of Storage Magazine’s survey and below is an excerpt about the survey:
In both categories covering the Enterprise and the Mid-Range, the overall ratings are shown below:
Surprised? You bet because I was.
The survey does not focus on speeds and feeds or comparing scalability or performance. Rather, the survey focuses on the qualitative aspects of the NAS products. There were many storage vendors who were part of the participation lists but many did not qualify to be make a dent of what the top 6 did. Here’s a list of the vendors surveyed:
The qualitative aspects of the survey focused on 5 main areas:
- Sales force competency
- Initial Quality
- Product Features
- Product Reliability
- Technical Support
In each of the 5 main areas, customers were asked a series of questions. Here is a breakdown of those questions of each area.
Sales Force Competency
- Are the sales force knowledgeable about their products and their customer’s industries?
- How flexible are their sales effort?
- How good are they keeping the customer’s interest levels up?
Initial Product Quality
- Does the product need little or no vendor intervention?
- Ease of installation and ease of use
- Good value for money
- Reasonable requirement from Professional Service or needing little Professional Service
- Installation without defects
- Getting it right the first time
- Storage management features
- Mirroring features
- Capacity scaling features
- Interoperable with other vendor’s products
- Remote replication features
- Snapshotting features
- Vendor provide comprehensive upgrading procedures
- Ability to meet Service Level Agreement (SLA)
- Experiences very little downtime
- Patches applied non-disruptively
- Taking ownership of the customer’s problem
- Timely problem resolution and technical advice
- Vendor supplies support contractually as specified
- Vendor’s 3rd party partners are knowledgeable
- Vendor provide adequate training
These are some of the intangibles that customers are looking for when they qualify the NAS solutions from vendors. And the surprising was Oracle just became something to be reckoned with, backed by the strong legacy of customer-centric focus of Sun and StorageTek. If this is truly happening in the US, then kudos to Oracle for maximizing the Sun-Storagetek enterprise genes to put their NAS products to be best-of-breed.
However, on the local front, it seems to me that Oracle isn’t doing much justice to the human potential they have inherited from Sun. A little bird has told me that they got rid of some good customer service people in Malaysia and Singapore just last month and more could be on the way in 2012. All this for the sake of meeting some silly key performance indices (KPIs) of being measured by tasks per day.
The Sun people that I know here in Malaysia and Singapore are gurus who has gone through the fire and thrived and there is no substitute for quality. Unfortunately, in Oracle, it’s all about numbers, whether it is sales or tasks per day.
Well, back to the survey. And of course, the final question would be, “Is the product good enough that you would buy it again?” And the results are …
Good for Oracle in the US but the results do not fully reflect what’s on the ground here in Malaysia, which is more likely dominated by NetApp, HP, EMC and IBM.
I am a bit surprised that primary storage deduplication has not taken off in a big way, unlike the times when the buzz of deduplication first came into being about 4 years ago.
When the first deduplication solutions first came out, it was particularly aimed at the backup data space. It is now more popularly known as secondary data deduplication, the technology has reduced the inefficiencies of backup and helped sparked the frenzy of adulation of companies like Data Domain, Exagrid, Sepaton and Quantum a few years ago. The software vendors were not left out either. Symantec, Commvault, and everyone else in town had data deduplication for backup and archiving.
It was no surprise that EMC battled NetApp and finally won the rights to acquire Data Domain for USD$2.4 billion in 2009. Today, in my opinion, the landscape of secondary data deduplication has pretty much settled and matured. Practically everyone has some sort of secondary data deduplication technology or solution in place.
But then the talk of primary data deduplication hardly cause a ripple when compared a few years ago, especially here in Malaysia. Yeah, the IT crowd is pretty fickle that way because most tend to follow the trend of the moment. Last year was Cloud Computing and now the big buzz word is Big Data.
We are here to look at technologies to solve problems, folks, and primary data deduplication technology solutions should be considered in any IT planning. And it is our job as storage networking professionals to continue to advise customers about what is relevant to their business and addressing their pain points.
I get a bit cheesed off that companies like EMC, or HDS continue to spend their marketing dollars on hyping the trends of the moment rather than using some of their funds to promote good technologies such as primary data deduplication that solve real life problems. The same goes for most IT magazines, publications and other communications mediums, rarely giving space to technologies that solves problems on the ground, and just harping on hypes, fuzz and buzz. It gets a bit too ordinary (and mundane) when they are trying too hard to be extraordinary because everyone is basically talking about the same freaking thing at the same time, over and over again. (Hmmm … I think I am speaking off topic now .. I better shut up!)
We are facing an avalanche of data. The other day, the CEO of Nexenta used the word “data tsunami” but whatever terms used do not matter. There is too much data. Secondary data deduplication solved one part of the problem and now it’s time to talk about the other part, which is data in primary storage, hence primary data deduplication.
What is out there? Who’s doing what in term of primary data deduplication?
NetApp has their A-SIS (now NetApp Dedupe) for years and they are good in my books. They talk to customers about the benefits of deduplication on their FAS filers. (Side note: I am seeing more benefits of using data compression in primary storage but I am not going to there in this entry). EMC has primary data deduplication in their Celerra years ago but they hardly talk much about it. It’s on their VNX as well but again, nobody in EMC ever speak about their primary deduplication feature.
I have always loved Ocarina Networks ECO technology and Dell don’t give much hoot about Ocarina since the acquisition in 2010. The technology surfaced a few months ago in Dell DX6000G Storage Compression Node for its Object Storage Platform, but then again, all Dell talks about is their Fluid Data Architecture from the Compellent division. Hey Dell, you guys are so one-dimensional! Ocarina is a wonderful gem in their jewel case, and yet all their storage guys talk about are Compellent and EqualLogic.
Moving on … I ought to knock Oracle on the head too. ZFS has great data deduplication technology that is meant for primary data and a couple of years back, Greenbytes took that and made a solution out of it. I don’t follow what Greenbytes is doing nowadays but I do hope that the big wave of primary data deduplication will rise for companies such as Greenbytes to take off in a big way. No thanks to Oracle for ignoring another gem in ZFS and wasting their resources on pre-sales (in Malaysia) and partners (in Malaysia) that hardly know much about the immense power of ZFS.
But an unexpected source coming from Microsoft could help trigger greater interest in primary data deduplication. I have just read that the next version of Windows Server OS will have primary data deduplication integrated into NTFS. The feature will be available in Windows 8 and the architectural view is shown below:
The primary data deduplication in NTFS will be a feature add-on for Windows Server users. It is implemented as a filter driver on a per volume basis, with each volume a complete, self describing unit. It is cluster aware, and fully crash consistent on all operations.
The technology is Microsoft’s own technology, built from scratch and will be working to position Hyper-V as an strong enterprise choice in its battle for the server virtualization space with VMware. Mind you, VMware already has a big, big lead and this is just something that Microsoft must do-or-die to keep Hyper-V playing catch-up. Otherwise, the gap between Microsoft and VMware in the server virtualization space will be even greater.
I don’t have the full details of this but I read that the NTFS primary deduplication chunk sizes will be between 32KB to 128KB and it will be post-processing.
With Microsoft introducing their technology soon, I hope primary data deduplication will get some deserving accolades because I think most companies are really not doing justice to the great technologies that they have in their jewel cases. And I hope Microsoft, with all its marketing savviness and adeptness, will do some justice to a technology that solves real life’s data problems.
I bid you good luck – Primary Data Deduplication! You deserved better.
I did not miss this when the IDC report of worldwide storage software for Q3 2011 was released a couple of weeks ago. I was just too busy to work on it until just now.
The IDC QView report covers 7 functional areas of storage software:
- Data protection and recovery software
- Storage replication software
- Storage infrastructure software
- Storage management software
- Device management software
- Data archiving software
- File system software
All areas are growing and Q3 grew 9.7% when compared with the figures of 3Q2010. In the overall software market, EMC holds the top position at 24.5% followed by Symantec (15.3%) and IBM (14.0%). Here’s a table to show the overall standings of the storage software vendors.
In fact, EMC leads in 3 areas of storage infrastructure management, storage management and device management. But the fastest growing area is data archiving software with a pace of 12.2% following by storage and device management of 11.3%.
HP is not in the table, but IDC reported that the biggest growth is coming from HP with a 38.2% growth, boosted by its acquisition of 3PAR. Watch out for HP in the coming quarters. Also worthy of note is the rate Symantec has been experiencing. Their was only 2.2% and IBM, at #3, is catching up fast. I wonder what’s happening in Symantec having seeing them losing their lofty heights in recent years.
The storage software market is a USD$3.5 billion market and it is the market that storage vendors are placing more importance. This market will grow.
Just after IDC released their numbers of their worldwide Disk Storage System Tracker (Read my blog) 10 days ago, Gartner released their Worldwide External Controller Based (ECB) Disk Storage Market report for Q3 of 2011.
The storage market remains resilient (for now) and growing 10.4% in terms of revenue, despite the hard economic conditions. The table below shows the top 7 storage vendors and their relation to their Q2 numbers.
EMC remained at the top and gained a massive 3.6% jump in market share. Looks like they are firing all cylinders and chugging like an unstoppable steam train. IBM gained 0.1% in second place as its stable of DS8000, XIV and Storewize V7000 is taking shape. Even though IBM has been holding steadily, I still think that their present storage lineup is staggered and lacks that seamless upgrade path for their customers.
NetApp, which I always terms as the “little engine that could”, is slowing down. They were badly hit in the last quarter, delivering lower than expected revenue numbers according to the analysts. Their stock took a tumble too. As quoted by Gartner, “NetApp’s third-quarter results reflect an overdependence on a few large customers, limited geographic coverage in high-growth countries and increased competition from Dell, EMC, HP and IBM in the midrange modular ECB disk array market segment.”
I wrote in my recent blog, that NetApp has to start evolving from a pure-play storage vendor into a total storage and data management solution vendor. The recent rumours of NetApp’s interests in Commvault and Quantum should make a lot of sense if NetApp decides to make that move. Come on, NetApp! What are you waiting for?
HP came back strong in this report. They are in 4th place with 10.4% market share and hot on NetApp’s heels. After many months of nonsensical madness – Leo Apotheker firing, trying to ditch the PC business, the killing of WebOS tablet, the very public Oracle-HP spat – things are beginning to settle a bit under their new CEO, Meg Whitman. In a recent HP Discover conference in Vienna, it was reported that the HP storage team is gung-ho of what they have in their arsenal right now. They called it “The 4 Jewels of HP Storage Crown” which includes 3PAR, Ibrix, StoreOnce and LeftHand. They also leap-frogged over HDS and Dell in the recent Gartner Magic Quadrant (See below).
Kudos to HP and team.
HDS seems to be doing well, and so is Dell. But the Gartner numbers tell a different story. HDS, lost market share and now shares 7.8% market share with Dell. Dell, despite its strong marketing on Compellent, could not make up its loss after breaking off with EMC.
Fujitsu and Oracle completes the line up.
My conclusion: HP and IBM are coming back; EMC is well and far ahead of everyone else; NetApp has to evolve; Dell still lacking in enterprise storage savviness despite having good technology; No comments about HDS.
It’s that time of the year again where Gartner releases it Magic Quadrant for the block-access, external controller-based, mid-range and high-end modular disk arrays market. This particular is very important because it represents the mainstay of the overall storage industry, viewed from a more qualitative angle. Whereas the other charts and reports work with statistics and numbers, this is the chart that everyone in the industry flock to. Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) is the storage industry indicator of who’s are the leaders; who are the visionaries; who are the executive wizards and who are the laggards (also known as niche players).
So, this time around, who’s in the Leaders Quadrant?
The perennial players in the Leader’s Quadrant are EMC, IBM, NetApp, HP, Dell, and HDS. In my previous blog, I shared with you the IDC figures about market shares but the Gartner MQ shows are more subtle side, and one that perhaps carry more weight to organizations.
From the IDC numbers announced previously, we have seen Dell taking a beating. They have lost market share and similarly in this latest Gartner MQ, they have lost their significance of their influence as well. Everyone expected their Compellent solution to be robust and having EqualLogic, Ocarina and Exanet in its stable would strengthen their presence in the storage industry. Surprisingly, Dell lost on both IDC statistically charged market numbers and this Gartner MQ as well. Perhaps they were too hasty to dump EMC a few months ago?
Gartner also reported that HP has made significant leap in the Leader’s Quadrant. It has leapfrogged over HDS and IBM when comparing their position in Gartner’s MQ chart. This could be coming from their concerted effort to pitch their Converged Infrastructure, a vision that in my opinion, simplified computing. HP Malaysia shared with me their vision a few months ago, and I was impressed. What I was not very impressed then and even now, is that their storage solutions story is still staggered, lacking the gel. Perhaps it is work in progress for HP, the 3PAR, the IBRIX and the EVA. But one things for sure. They are slowly but surely getting the StoreOnce story right and that’s good news for customers. I did a review of HP StoreOnce technology a few months ago.
Perhaps it’s time for HP to ditch their VLS deduplication, which to me, confuses customers. By the way, HP VLS is an OEM from Sepaton. (Sepaton is “No tapes” spelled backwards)
Here’s a glimpse of last year’s Magic Quadrant.
In the Niche Quadrant, there are a few players making waves as well. 2 companies to watch out for are Huawei (they dropped Symantec 2 weeks ago) and Nexsan. Nexsan has been beefing up its marketing of late, and I often see them in mailing lists and ads on some websites I went to.
But the one to watch will be Huawei. This is a company with deep pockets, hiring the best in the storage industry and also has a very strong domestic market in China. In the next 2-3 years, Huawei could emerge as a strong contender to the big boys. So watch out!
Gartner Magic Quadrant is indeed weaving its magic and this time around the magic is good to HP.
A very interesting report surfaced in front of me today. It is Information Week’s IT Pro ranking of Data Deduplication vendors, just made available a few weeks ago, and it is the overview of the dedupe market so far.
It surveyed over 400 IT professionals from various industries with companies ranging from less than 50 employees to over 10,000 employees and revenues of less than USD5 million to USD1 billion. Overall, it had a good mix of respondents. But the results were quite interesting.
It surveyed 2 segments
- Overall performance – product reliability, product performance, acquisition costs, operations costs etc.
- Technical features – replication, VTL, encryption, iSCSI and FCoE support etc.
There were updates to IBM XIV, SVC, SONAS and also the DS8800 and the announcement reached us with a big bang. One of the notable updates that caught my eye was IBM Storwize V7000. When IBM first acquired Storwize in 2010, their solution was meant to be a compression engine in front of a NAS storage. And it pretty much of that for a while, until the new Storwize V7000.
The new Storwize V7000 is now a Unified Storage array, a multiprotocol box that IBM has quoted to compete with EMC VNX series. In the news, the V7000 has the block virtualization code from the IBM SVC, files support, a file distribution policy engine called ActiveCloud, and also included remote replication (Metro & Global Mirror), automatic storage tiering (EasyTier), clustering and storage virtualization as well. It also sports a new user interface inherited from IBM XIV’s Gen3 GUI that can manage both files and blocks.
The video below introduces the V7000:
While IBM is being courteous to NetApp (NetApp FAS series are IBM’s N-Series) by saying that their cannons are pointed towards EMC’s VNX, one cannot help to question the strong possibility of the V7000 hurting N-series sales as well. NetApp could see this relationship sailing choppy waters ahead.
To me, the current IBM storage technology lineup is staggered. It is everything to everyone, and there are things that are in need of sharpening. HDS has certainly made great leaps getting their act together and they have gained strong market share in the past 2 quarters. Dell and HP have not been so good, because their story just don’t gel well. It’s about time IBM get going with their own technology, and more importantly consolidate their storage technology lineup into a more focused strategy.
This is a great announcement for IBM and they are getting wizer!