Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Video surveillance is a real sweet spot for iSCSI IP SANs

April 28, 2010 – According to an end-user survey conducted by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) late last year, 28% of the surveyed companies already use iSCSI. And if you factor in the companies that plan to use iSCSI, that number jumps to 52%.

As ESG analyst Mark Peters said in a blog post (see “iSCSI Adoption Continues its Upward Path”): “Not bad for a storage protocol that was dismissed by some as the equivalent of the poor kid from the IT housing projects a few years back.”

(ESG surveyed 1,488 companies ranging from 100 to more than 20,000 employees.)

According to Peters, adoption of iSCSI-based IP SANs is being driven largely by the surge in server virtualization deployments and IT budget pressures. But it’s also due to a widening of the use cases for iSCSI.

One of the hottest spots for IP SANs is in video surveillance. IMS Research recently completed a report, The World Market for Enterprise and IP Storage used for Video Surveillance, which predicts that the IP SAN market for video surveillance will grow at a CAGR of 66.7% between 2008 and 2013.

Drawing from the report (because I don’t know squat about video surveillance), IP video has traditionally been recorded on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers, digital video recorders (DVRs) or network video recorders (NVRs).

NVRs are optimized for video surveillance, but they don’t work well in environments with lots of cameras. Same with digital video recorders (DVRs).

The COTS server approach is inexpensive and reasonably scalable, but the servers aren’t optimized for video surveillance.

IMS Research analyst William Rhodes says that the three key reasons why IP SANs will take over in the video surveillance market are:

--IP SANs go beyond COTS servers with feature such as RAID, failover and virtualization.
--iSCSI is less expensive than Fibre Channel SANs.
--IP SANs can be used to replace COTS servers and NVRs because storage suppliers have recently incorporated the server running the video management software (VMS), creating a single boxed appliance.

Most RAID vendors are going after the video surveillance market, but Rhodes cites the following vendors as examples of storage suppliers that are particularly focused on the video surveillance space, both of which offer “server-less” IP SANs: Intransa and Pivot3.

For more information on the report or the video surveillance storage market, contact William Rhodes or visit the IMS Research web site.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Virtual I/O, I/O, it’s off to work we go

April 22, 2010 – You’ve virtualized a lot of your servers. You’re looking into virtualizing your desktops. It’s time to virtualize your I/O.

Faster processors, proliferating and dense VMs, and the need for speed and component consolidation are calling into question the traditional practice of loading up servers with more and more I/O cards, whether it’s Ethernet NICs, Fibre Channel HBAs, or other types of I/O adapters. There are a number of options.

If you’re an HP shop, you may be familiar with the Virtual Connect technology on HP’s c-Class BladeSystems.

If you’re an InfoStor reader, you’re certainly familiar with multi-protocol, FCoE-based converged network adapters (CNAs) from vendors such as Emulex and QLogic.

An emerging option is virtual I/O, which is often implemented on I/O virtualization switches or gateways (and could be complementary with FCoE CNAs). It’s a flexible way to dynamically configure servers and accommodate multiple I/O protocols while reducing your adapter, switch port, cabling, and power requirements.

If that sounds appealing, start your evaluation by checking out these early players in the virtual I/O space:


Early next week we’ll introduce a new entrant in this market – Aprius – in the News and Analysis section of

To get you started on virtual I/O, read “Virtual IO takes off in 2010,” by analyst David Floyer.

Related articles from InfoStor:

Dell to resell Xsigo’s virtual I/O products
VirtenSys unveils VIO switches
I/O virtualization is a sweet spot for 10GbE

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Buddies Went to SNW and All I Got Was This Lousy Golf Shirt

April 19, 2010 – Last week’s Storage Networking World (SNW) show was the first one I missed since they launched the event in 1999, breaking my 22-show streak.

On one hand, I didn’t really miss being at the show because my three days at SNW twice a year are the busiest six days of my work year. (My personal record was 33 meetings in three days.) And the trips set me back another few days just catching up with real work. And 11 meetings a day with (mostly) vendors and their presos is more than any human can take.

On the other hand, I did miss being at the show. Well, I missed being at the hotel lobby bar in the evenings where, over a few well-deserved adult beverages I was always able to commingle with old buddies (and at this stage of the game, most of them are old), analysts, consultants and the occasional end user.

But I wasn’t crying in my beer back here in L.A., because fewer and fewer of my old SNW pals are going to the show these days (in part this time around because Symantec Vision and the huge NAB show also took place last week, and there actually were a lot of storage products introduced at that show – see “New product highlights from NAB”).

But even though I didn’t make it to SNW, I got plenty of reports from people that did. A good time was had by all (except, perhaps, exhibitors that paid big bucks hoping to rack up buckets of leads), but everybody commented on how slow the show was (e.g., lack of traffic, excitement, product introductions, users).

Sure, SNW is a remnant of its former self (and there’s talk about collapsing the two shows into one annual event), but it’s still the biggest storage-centric conference and, despite the criticism it often gets . . . We need this show.

In order to raise the relevance of the conference, I think the show organizers should double or redouble their efforts to involve the channel – systems/storage integrators, VARs and distributors. SNW has done all it can on the end-user side and, according to most exhibitors, it hasn’t been enough. But instead of hoping for a handful of leads from their booths, wouldn’t exhibitors rather interact with dozens or hundreds of channel representatives? Most storage products go through the channel anyway. And channel professionals are more likely to kick tires in the exhibit hall (without the free food and drink enticements that end users seem to require).

Assuming you’re hopeful for a resurgence of SNW, do you have any other ideas for show management? If so, email me and I’ll collect and forward to the proper authorities.

Note my new email address:

(And I have a new email address because “ is heading to” )

Thursday, April 8, 2010 is heading to

April 8, 2010 – You may have noticed that I’ve been a bit tardy about blogging over the last week. That’s because there’s been a lot of action, and excitement, here at InfoStor. was recently acquired by QuinStreet which, among many other entities, owns (QuinStreet specializes in performance marketing and lead generation.) will be integrated into the network of IT sites (see below). has more than 15 million unique visitors per month (all IT professionals) and generates more than 35 million page views per month. How’s that for reach? And’s 200+ writers produced more than 28,000 original articles last year.

Being part of a team with this level of IT depth and breadth, and leveraging synergies with other IT sites (including and, will significantly increase’s traffic and enable us to expand our reach across the entire IT stack. However, we will still be 100% focused on storage and, although linked to other sites, we will remain a separate site.

InfoStor’s core team will be joining me, including senior editor Kevin Komiega and InfoStor’s national accounts manager, Carol Stagg.

One change of note is that we will no longer produce the print edition of InfoStor magazine, instead focusing 100% of our efforts on the Web site, newsletters and related content.

To get an idea of the breadth of’s coverage, it includes sites in the following IT segments:

IT management: CIO Update and Datamation (which I worked for back in the early ‘90s)
Networking: Enterprise Networking Planet
Servers: ServerWatch
Storage: Enterprise Storage Forum and, now, InfoStor
Security: eSecurity Planet
Enterprise Applications: CRM Today
IT News: Internet News
Databases: Database Journal
SMB Technology: Small Business Computing
Hardware: Hardware Central
Mobile: Enterprise Mobile Today
Communications: VOIP Planet

Our team is very excited about the new opportunities for InfoStor, but in terms of providing you with the storage-specific content you’re used to . . . It’s business as usual.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

NAS gains in virtual server environments

April 1, 2010 – I’ve been tracking how users configure their storage in virtualized environments for several years, via end-user surveys, and have noticed that NAS is gaining in popularity vs. other alternatives such as Fibre Channel SANs, iSCSI SANs, and direct-attached storage (DAS).

For example, an IDC survey of 168 IT professionals conducted in the fourth quarter of last year asked users “Which of the following storage types are currently deployed with your company’s server virtualization?” The results:

NAS: 37%
FC SAN: 35%
iSCSI SAN: 29%
Virtual storage appliance: 20%
Internal DAS: 20%
External DAS: 14%

Granted, IDC only surveyed 168 companies, but that’s the first time that I’ve seen NAS top the list (although statistically it’s practically a dead heat between NAS, FC SANs and iSCSI SANs).

In comparison, a survey of visitors, conducted a few months prior to the IDC survey, had the following results (note: The InfoStor survey asked users to choose their primary storage configuration, and did not allow multiple responses):

FC SAN: 53%
iSCSI SAN: 28%
NAS: 10%
DAS: 9%

It’s meaningless to compare the results of the two surveys, but it’s clear from the IDC survey that, rather than trying to standardize on a single architecture for their virtual server storage environments, end users are moving toward a mix of two or more architectures.

I suppose that NAS’ strong showing is attributable in part to the rapid growth of unstructured file data in virtualized environments, as well as improvements in the latest versions of NFS. And, of course, to its relatively low cost, which has given NAS a boost not only in virtual server environments but across the board during the financial downturn. Also, the increasing use of “hybrid” or “unified” storage systems (i.e., NAS + SAN) may also be jacking up the percentages for NAS.

For more on the expanding applications for NAS, see “Evolving use cases for file-based storage,” by IDC analyst Noemi Greyzdorf.