Monday, January 25, 2010

Users’ top storage technologies, vendors for 2010

January 25, 2010 – Results from a recent end-user survey conducted by TheInfoPro research firm included a few surprises regarding what technologies are “hot” and which vendors will be “winners” this year. TheInfoPro surveyed and interviewed storage professionals in the Fortune 1000 (F1000), as well as midsize enterprises (MSEs).

According to TheInfoPro’s Heat Index, which measures user demand for technologies -- as well as the relative size of market opportunities for vendors -- data deduplication and primary storage data reduction (or online data reduction) will top the needs of both F1000 companies and MSEs in 2010.

The data deduplication entry was predictable, but users’ prioritization of data reduction technologies for primary storage came as somewhat of a surprise to me.

Not for Anders Lofgren, TheInfoPro’s chief research officer. “It’s not surprising, because the emphasis is still on cost reduction. It’s all about managing capital costs on the hardware side and managing operating costs on the staffing side,” says Lofgren.

The list is growing, but early entrants in the online data reduction space include EMC and NetApp, as well as vendors such as Exar, greenBytes, and Storwize. (See “Consider data reduction for primary storage” ). In TheInfoPro survey, not surprisingly, EMC and NetApp were mentioned most frequently.

Also ranking high in the TheInfoPro’s Heat Index were the F1000’s planned use of solid-state disk (SSD) drives, 8Gbps Fibre Channel, and virtual server data management.

TheInfoPro’s Heat Indexes also indicate increased use of technologies such as thin provisioning, email archiving, information lifecycle management (ILM), storage resource management (SRM), automated tiering and provisioning, and backup management for virtual servers. Among SMEs, interest in block virtualization is picking up steam, and MSEs plan to expand their use of remote replication, 10GbE, and enterprise-class SAS drives.

Who are the “most exciting” storage vendors in 2010? Among MSEs, the top picks were somewhat surprising: Compellent, 3PAR and Hitachi Data Systems. The top three “in use” vendors were EMC, NetApp and Compellent.

Among Fortune 1000 firms, the most exciting storage vendors are EMC, NetApp and IBM. The InfoPro noted that:

--The acquisition of Data Domain boosted EMC’s data deduplication “in use” share in the Fortune 1000 from about 5% to 25%.

--In the F1000 space, EMC’s V-Max refresh rates appear to be driving the majority of SSD discussions. For example, SSD “in use” responses quadrupled from six months ago (albeit from a base of near zero).

--In email archiving, Symantec, EMC and IBM consistently placed at the top of end users’ lists. IBM’s “in use” activity in the F1000 grew the fastest, compared to TheInfoPro’s survey of six months ago, while both Symantec and CommVault also showed significant improvement.

Visit TheInfoPro’s site for more insights from the firms’ ongoing end-user surveys.

Related InfoStor post:

The top 5 storage technologies of 2009 (and 2010?)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Intel, Microsoft top 1,000,000 IOPS in iSCSI tests

January 21, 2010 – In conjunction with Microsoft, Intel recently announced that it surpassed one million I/Os per second (IOPS) in an iSCSI performance test. See the Webcast link near the bottom of this post if you want detailed information on the tests and configurations, but basically the test configuration included a standard server with one Intel 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) server adapter (model X520-2), a quad-core Xeon 5500-series CPU, Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft’s iSCSI initiator software, and Hyper-V.

Other test elements included Cisco’s 10GbE Nexus 5020 switch connected to ten iSCSI soft targets.

Specifically, Intel and Microsoft clocked 1,030,000 IOPS (with 512-byte blocks), and more than 2,250MBps with large block sizes (16KB to 256KB) using the Iometer benchmark, which is waaaay beyond any iSCSI performance specs that I’ve seen.

It’s stuff like this that might bring back the old iSCSI vs. FC/FCoE controversy.

Of course, one million IOPS is overkill for most of today’s applications, so I queried Microsoft and Intel representatives about what these tests results really prove.

“These tests negate skepticism about iSCSI performance and its ability to be deployed in an enterprise environment,” says Sunil Ahluwalia, Intel’s product line manager, data center products. “They also demonstrate the head room you have with 10GbE and iSCSI.”

“From a virtualization perspective, heavily transaction-intensive applications such as databases tend to be the last applications to be virtualized, and these tests are a proof point for being able to use iSCSI in virtual environments with those types of applications,” says Dai Vu, Microsoft’s director of virtualization products and solutions marketing.

It was also a chance for Microsoft to show off some of the iSCSI and storage enhancements in the R2 version of Windows Server 2008, including iSCSI multi-core and NUMA I/O, DPC redirection, dynamic load balancing, storage I/O monitoring, CRC digest offload, and support for 32 paths at boot time.

For details on the iSCSI tests, see

the archived Microsoft-Intel Webcast

Intel’s blog

And in other one-million-IOPS news, Emulex recently announced that its FCoE-based OneConnect converged network adapters (CNAs) hit 919,000 IOPS in tests conducted by IT Brand Pulse. You can read the press release here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

PATA vs. SATA: I guess it does matter

January 19, 2010 – As anybody that’s spent any time doing site analytics knows, you inevitably wind up unearthing some seemingly inexplicable stuff. Such is the case with an InfoStor article titled “PATA vs. SATA: What does it matter?”

Back when we first started doing Web site analytics, we noticed that this article had a surprisingly high hit rate. At the time, that wasn’t perplexing. It was a well-written article (by Cambridge Computer consultant Jacob Farmer) on a hot topic.

However, that article continues to generate a lot of page views – even this month.

The problem, or reason for perplexity? It was written in 2004.

You can read “PATA vs. SATA: Does it matter” here.

In case it’s not obvious why I’m perplexed (to the point of obsession), I thought that PATA (Parallel ATA, aka IDE) was a dead technology. PATA, or IDE, hasn’t come up in my conversations with vendors or users in the last half-decade.

At first, I thought this might have something to do with searches related to the Pacific Asia Travel Association. But after Googling “pata,” “pata vs. sata,” etc I realized that a surprising (to me) number of people still have PATA/IDE interfaces and are interested in the PATA-to-SATA conversion issue.

My myopia, or plain ignorance, probably stems from the fact that InfoStor concentrates on SMB/enterprise disk arrays, and not on individual or SOHO users. As such, all of my drive-level discussions center on SAS, Fibre Channel or SATA.

Nevertheless, I’m still perplexed by the popularity of the SATA vs. PATA article. If you can shed any light on this, comment below or shoot me an email at

Googling “pata vs. sata” turned up some interesting stuff. One example: In a comment on an article originally posted in 2002 (“SATA vs. PATA: the reality of Serial and Parallel ATA”), a user refers readers to the InfoStor article in question. That user’s comment was posted on December 14, 2009.

Also interesting: The bulk of the searches that led to the PATA vs. SATA InfoStor article came from the U.S. However, almost as many came from Canada. That’s way out of whack with our general site traffic, where Canada represents about 3% of our site visitors.

Friday, January 15, 2010

InfoStor welcomes new bloggers

January 15, 2010 – We recently added a couple of analysts/consultants to our blogger lineup: IT Brand Pulse’s Frank Berry and the Taneja Group’s Jeff Boles.

Frank is the CEO and a senior analyst at IT Brand Pulse, which conducts product reviews, surveys IT professionals on an ongoing basis and produces reports, including the IT Brand Leadership series. For my comments on one of IT Brand Pulse’s recent Brand Leadership survey results, see “Who are the (perceived) leaders in storage virtualization?"

Previously, Frank held senior executive positions with vendors such as QLogic and Quantum.

In his first post for InfoStor, he comments on storage virtualization, outlining the three phases, or eras, of the technology. See “EMC: Storage Virtualization Leader.”

Our other new blogger, Jeff Boles, is a senior analyst with the Taneja Group research and consulting firm. In his first post for, Jeff takes a look at storage in 2010, touching on topics such as volume virtualization in enterprise arrays, WAN optimization, data deduplication, SSDs and, of course, the cloud. See “Storage for 2010 – Integration Innovation.”

Jeff also blogs on the Taneja Group site. Other Taneja Group analysts will occasionally share his blog spot.

The next addition to InfoStor’s Bits & Bytes blog will be a user/VAR blog, where IT storage professionals and channel professionals will share their opinions, insights and success stories. If you’re interested in occasionally participating, shoot me an email –

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Top storage stock picks (and Super Bowl predictions) for 2010

January 8, 2010 – No, I’m not going to give you my top stock picks for this year. Given my history in the stock market, that would be cruel. Not to mention journalistically unethical.

But in addition to Top Ten technologies/stories/predictions lists from virtually every editor/analyst/vendor, I recently perused the top storage stock picks from some financial analyst firms, particularly those that seem to me to be savvy about storage.

In their first report of the new year, the analysts at Needham & Company focused mostly on the HDD and SSD sectors, citing top 2010 stock picks of Seagate, Western Digital, Intevac, Hewlett-Packard and STEC.

I’d agree that 2010 will be a banner year for the traditional HDD vendors (a rare occurrence indeed), in large part because of the anticipated IT refreshes in servers and PCs.

The SSD space could be more dicey, in my opinion. Most analysts and storage editors (including me) put SSDs on their Top Five Technologies of 2009 lists, despite the fact that actual shipments remained miniscule throughout the year. And STEC has been a favorite among stock analysts for some time, in large part because the company has design wins with most of the leading disk array vendors.

But the SSD sector is getting very crowded, very quickly, and unit shipments won’t support the number of players. Expect some consolidation and dropouts in the SSD space.

Summing up the SSD section of their report (which they labeled “Fear and Loathing in SSD Land”) Needham analysts stated that “We believe 2010 will see the rising of the true enterprise SSD players Pliant, Seagate, Hitachi GST/Intel, Fusion-io and visibility into Western Digital as validation for the space and STEC’s pole position at the table.” (What is it with financial analysts and the word ‘visibility’?)

Canaccord Adams analyst Paul Mansky took a broader look at the storage market, and all other IT sectors, in his recent 2010 Technology Outlook report. And his top storage stock pick for this year is

[drum roll]

Emulex. According to Mansky, vendors “that appear to have room at both the revenue and margin lines include our top pick Emulex, as well as QLogic, Double-Take and Juniper. Cisco, EMC and NetApp appear to leave at least some room for one or both.”

Canaccord Adams analysts also note that, with the loosening of the IT purse strings this year, higher-end enterprise storage vendors may fare well, citing EMC, NetApp, Emulex, QLogic, Brocade and 3PAR.

Although Cannaccord Adams analysts didn’t specifically cite FCoE as a reason for singling out Emulex and QLogic, I think that any bet on that duo would in fact be a bet on good fortunes for FCoE this year.

As I’ve opined before, though, I think FCoE will take off slower than expected. And the FCoE market is going to get uncomfortably (for Emulex and QLogic) crowded this year as heavyweights such as Broadcom and Intel (and a handful of smaller, 10GbE specialists) ramp up. So any bets on Emulex and QLogic should be based on good old financial fundamentals, not FCoE.

And now for some more interesting – and perhaps lucrative – picks.

You heard it hear first: Colts and Cowboys in the Super Bowl, with Indy winning in a boring blowout (after the real Super Bowl – Colts vs. Chargers, a guaranteed barn burner in which Manning wins it with seconds on the clock).

But first, the Wes Welker-less Wildcard Weekend. My picks:

Jets jettison the (too colorfully clad) Bengals
Cowboys (home field, or Taj Mahal, advantage) ground the Eagles
Patriots over the Ravens (and quit whining about Wes Welker and Brady’s ribs, New Englanders)
Packers over the Cardinals (because we must – must – have a Packers-Vikings matchup in the playoffs)

Monday, January 4, 2010

“Only” 43 storage mergers/acquisitions in 2009

January 4, 2010 – In a market the size of the storage industry, it would seem like 43 mergers and acquisitions in one year is a lot. Not so. That 2009 figure compares to 69 mergers/acquisitions in 2008, 84 in 2007 and a whopping 104 in the peak year of 2006.

That’s according to Jean-Jacques Maleval, as reported in his StorageNewsletter today. Here are a few tidbits I found interesting.

Jean-Jacques has been tracking mergers and acquisitions activity in the worldwide storage industry for 12 years, since 1998, and 2009 was the calmest year. (Previously, the year with the least activity was 2002, with 45 mergers and acquisitions.)

Although the total number of transactions has understandably been going down since 2006, the average per-transaction amount has been going up. For example, if you just look at the mergers/acquisitions for which the price was disclosed, there were 17 transactions in 2009, at an average of $612.2 million per deal. That compares to 25 transactions in 2008, at an average of $216.7 million per deal.

(However, it should be noted that the 2009 figure was skewed by the $7.4 billion Oracle-Sun acquisition, which Maleval includes in last year’s tally although the deal actually isn’t final yet. In comparison, the biggest single deal of 2008 was the $2.6 billion Brocade-Foundry acquisition.)

Part of the slowdown in 2009 can be attributed to EMC alone, which only acquired five companies last year, compared to 17 in 2006.

However, not surprisingly, EMC has been the most acquisitive storage vendor since 1994, racking up 62 acquisitions in that period. That’s more than double the next hungriest vendor which, somewhat surprisingly, was Seagate with 27 acquisitions.

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, check out Jean-Jacques’ report, which includes a number of interesting tables.