There's always been tension between server and storage bigots.
Scott McNealy, former CEO of the former Sun Microsystems, once infamously opined that storage was a (mere) feature of the server. The problem was that at the time he made that comment, the storage industry was writing its declaration of independence. Fibre Channel-based SANs were consolidating and replacing direct attached storage (DAS) architectures in many of the world's large data centers. IP-based network attached storage (NAS) systems were consolidating and replacing print and file servers, much to the chagrin of both McNealy and Steve Ballmer.
Occasionally we see some learned organization counting the number of bytes of data that humans have produced to date. And I've been known to scoff at these projections.
Seriously folks, even if you think that the number is 789.332 yottabyes on some given day--let's say today--the number is bigger tomorrow. And it gets bigger the next day. Even the rate of growth of the world's collective data is meaningless. Who would ever try to collect it all in one place and do something with it?
Oops. Someone actually is trying to collect all the data in … Read more
Spoiler alert: this is a blog post about world peace.
I've been spinning some cycles lately looking for free data. Why? Here's my thesis: As our use of the cloud evolves, we will come to understand that, to do powerful computational things, we not only don't need to own massive amounts of IT infrastructure, we don't even have to own the data. The cloud will offer us both. Think of it as big free data.
At the dawn of modern computing history, one needed millions of dollars to buy big iron to do serious computational things. … Read more
Typically I write about storage. Now, as part of my research, I'm writing about data--data about you. The hottest commodity on the Web right now is data that describes who you are, what you like, what you do, who you know, where you've gone, where you might be, and what you are likely to do.
There are potentially tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of buyers, sellers, and collectors of data about you. For example, retailers of all stripes--from online to bricks and mortar--believe that they can sell more to you when they know more about … Read more
Last year, Oracle completed its acquisition of Sun Microsystems. At the time there was much speculation regarding the future of Sun's server and storage hardware business and I heard a number of well thought out opinions. But two seemed to stand out, both in opposition to one another:
1. Sun's hardware business doesn't return the same high net profit margin as Oracle's software business, therefore Oracle will wind it down, sell it off, or otherwise dispose of it over time because it will drag down overall profitability.
2. While the Sun hardware business doesn't offer the same profitability as software and applications, with work it could be brought in line with Oracle's other businesses. Therefore Oracle will keep it and find a way to make it profitable enough so as not to be a drag on overall profitability.
Last week, Oracle outlined its storage strategy and in doing so removed a lingering question mark that has been hanging over the acquisition since it was announced by making the following statement: "First and foremost, Oracle will deliver storage that helps Oracle platforms run faster. Oracle will continue to invest in storage hardware development, so long as that investment propels Oracle platform growth and market acceptance." Personally, it was not the statement I had expected, but I've learned to live with it.
Mark Hurd, former HP CEO and now Oracle's president, began the Oracle storage strategy session with the obligatory references to overwhelming data growth. I say "obligatory" because nearly every storage vendor pitch I see lately frames the discussion of why the market needs product x in terms of voluminous data growth and the opportunity that data growth presents to vendor x for managing it. … Read more
It's Monday morning at EMC World 2011 and EMC Chairman Joe Tucci opens the show with 10,000-plus in the audience. On stage with Tucci are big black boxes. What's wrong with this picture? EMC is no longer a company that can be primarily characterized as a maker of big black boxes. Tucci has engineered a transformation of EMC from an enterprise IT storage box vendor to a provider of computing platforms. Let me count them:
Nos. 1, 2, and 3: Foremost among EMC's platforms is VMware. EMC owns approximately 85 percent of it, but unlike his … Read more
Today, April 29, 2011, Amazon Web Services released a "summary" of its EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and RDS (Relational Database Service) disruption in its U.S. East Region. This came approximately one week after what appears to be a classic example of a rolling disaster that occurred after someone incorrectly executed a communications network traffic shift as part of "normal AWS scaling activities." I read human error here--long known as the leading cause of large system failures.
The rolling disaster is a well understood phenomenon in IT and can be hard to foresee with a complex system. The way to discover and fix potential failure points is to test on a regular basis then build around them. But periodic testing can become difficult for a system of this magnitude.
What I find positive about the Amazon summary is a set of disaster recovery recommendations for users and an admission that AWS customer support during the outage was less than stellar. The disaster recovery recommendations should now be required reading for every AWS customer. In fact, I think that all cloud services users should read this statement with an eye to discovering potential holes in their own disaster recovery strategies. … Read more
I recently gave a presentation at a small gathering of IT "enthusiasts" in Albany, N.Y. I say "enthusiasts" because the audience was an eclectic mix of IT technologists and people with advanced expertise in non-IT fields. For example, I met two people from an architectural firm, and neither was an IT administrator. One was an architect and the other was a building systems engineer (HVAC, wiring, etc.). They were there specifically to learn more about an IT systems requirement for a new elementary-school building project. I had not expected to see an architect in the … Read more
Last week I attended the GigaOM Structure Big Data conference in New York City. Although my resume says I'm a storage analyst of long standing, this was not a storage conference. However, my e-mail inbox reminds me daily that storage vendors think "big data" spells big opportunity so I went to see how and how much they can really contribute to the advancement of big-data analytics.
This conference only confirmed a suspicion that's been building for that last few months as I've been following the big-data wave: Big-data practitioners are generally hostile to shared storage. … Read more
Last year, Dell went on a storage buying spree. Dell took in Exanet for clustered, multiplatform NAS, Ocarina Networks for extensible, cross platform data compression and deduplication, capped-off with an announced agreement to acquire Compellent's virtualized storage arrays and Fluid Data technology, which closed last month. All tallied, I estimate Dell spent nearly $1 billion last year to flesh-out its storage portfolio, which also includes its EqualLogic virtualized storage arrays and PowerVault systems.
Dell storage executives now believe they have the goods to compete head-on with the major storage players (including EMC) in the following market segments: