Wednesday, March 9, 2011

NetApp to buy LSI’s Engenio for $480 million

March 9, 2011 – Following Monday’s announcement of Western Digital’s plan to acquire Hitachi GST for $4.3 billion, consolidation in the storage industry continued today with NetApp’s surprise announcement that it will buy LSI’s Engenio business for $480 million in cash – the largest transaction in NetApp’s history. The deal is expected to close within 60 days.

NetApp officials expect the acquisition to add $750 million to its revenue stream in fiscal 2012, and to add $5 billion to its total addressable market (TAM) by 2014.

LSI’s Engenio division had revenues of $705 million in 2010. (LSI’s entire storage portfolio generated revenues of $954 million in 2010.)

The new unit will be run by Manish Goel, executive vice president of NetApp’s product operations.

It’s important to note that NetApp is buying only the Engenio product line (external disk arrays), not LSI’s other storage lines (e.g., the ONStor and MegaRAID and 3ware controller/adapter families).

In acquisitions such as this, it’s customary to examine product overlap between the two companies’ product lines. However, NetApp officials didn’t really address that during their conference call. Instead, they focused on new workloads (vertical markets) that the company can penetrate better with Engenio’s technology than with NetApp's FAS technology. NetApp officials cited video (including full-motion and surveillance) and high performance computing (HPC), as well as multimedia, oil and gas, semiconductor simulation, weather simulation, medical imaging, and content distribution.

In addition to those new fast-growth verticals, NetApp officials noted that the Engenio acquisition will significantly expand NetApp’s channel strategy.

Fine, but the interesting question is what will happen to Engenio’s OEMs partnerships. Engenio’s OEMs include IBM (Engenio’s largest customer, and already a NetApp partner), Oracle/Sun, Dell, SGI and Teradata.

In today’s conference call, NetApp CEO Tom Georgens (who was formerly with Engenio) subtly danced around this issue, and downplayed the OEM side of the deal. Here are some clips from Georgens:

“Clearly, we have to have dialogue [with Engenio’s OEMs ]. . . Our objective is not to undermine the OEM business; our objective is work hand-in-hand with them . . . [but] if things change and a relationship becomes less friendly, I think we have the tools to compete that the previous owner of this business did not.”

More clips: “We expect [the OEM business] to roll off a bit. It’s certainly not going to be a growth element. The growth will come from the new business . . . and expanded TAM . . . At the price we’re paying . . . and the potential return, I think we would have justified this transaction with no OEM business.”

And in response to a question about whether NetApp would be able to keep all of Engenio’s OEMs: “I think that we’ll keep a number of them, or a large portion of the OEMs, but I don’t think we’ll keep every dollar of OEM revenue . . . I’m not saying that OEMs don’t matter, but the growth is elsewhere [in the new vertical markets].”

I’d guess that the OEM relationships with Oracle/Sun and Dell will be on shaky ground, but if the storage opportunities in areas such as video and HPC grow as rapidly as expected, and NetApp can gain significant market share in those verticals with the Engenio technology, then the OEM side of this equation may not matter.

As for LSI: The company’s press release said that “The strategic decision to divest the external storage systems business was based on the company’s expectation that long-term shareholder value can be maximized by becoming a pure-play semiconductor company.” In conjunction with the acquisition announcement, LSI said that its board of directors has authorized a new stock repurchase program of up to $750 million.

Monday, March 7, 2011

EMC lengthens its lead in disk array fray

March 7, 2011 – Despite impressive growth from some its arch rivals (most notably, NetApp) EMC appears to be widening the gap between itself and its collective competitors, according to a report on the disk systems market by IDC. The market research company recently issued statistics for the fourth quarter and full-year 2010, including market size, vendor shares and revenues.

EMC capped 2010 with a 25.6% market share on revenue of $5.44 billion in the external disk systems market. That compares to a 2009 market share of 22.9% on revenue of $4.1 billion.

Rounding out the top 5 in 2010 were IBM (13.8% share, down slightly from a 14.3% slice the previous year), NetApp and HP (tied with 11.1% market shares) and Dell (9.1% share on 2010 revenue of almost $2 billion).

EMC posted impressive 2009—2010 revenue growth of 32.5%, but that was overshadowed by NetApp’s whopping 49.5% revenue growth. NetApp raked in $2.35 billion in 2010, vs. $1.57 billion in 2009.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see how HP’s acquisition of 3PAR, EMC's acquisition of Isilon, and Dell’s acquisition of Compellent will alter the market share dynamics and revenues.

Conspicuously absent from the top 5 in 2010 was Hitachi Data Systems. However, HDS did claw its way into the top 5 in the fourth quarter of 2010, ending the quarter in a virtual tie with Dell for the last spot. HDS garnered an 8.7% share in 4Q10 on revenue of $533 million vs. Dell’s 7.9% share on revenue of $483 million.

In the fourth quarter, EMC pulled in $1.58 billion for a 26% market share. That compares to a share of 23.9% in 4Q 2009 ($1.25 billion in revenue).

However, NetApp’s surge was again apparent in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company posted year-over-year revenue growth of 43.7% (vs. 26.3% for EMC), and closed the gap with HP on revenue of $630 million vs. HP’s $704 million.

Last year was a good one for the external disk systems market, which grew by 18.3% to top $21 billion.

Breaking down 4Q10 by market segments: the NAS market grew 41.3% year over year. EMC was #1 in NAS, followed by NetApp at 23.7%.

The iSCSI market posted equally impressive gains, growing 42.1% in 4Q10 vs. 4Q09. Dell was #1 in the iSCSI space with a 32.6% share, followed by HP (14.7%) and EMC (13.4%).

One more fun fact: EMC has been #1 in the external disk systems market for 14 consecutive years.

For more details, see IDC’s press release: “Worldwide Disk Storage Systems Finishes 2010 with Double-Digit Growth on Strong Fourth Quarter Results.”

Friday, March 4, 2011

What are your post-lease options?

March 4, 2011 – When your lease or warranty runs out (or even when you’re on lease or warranty), you have a number of options. You can undergo a total technology refresh and buy new systems from your primary storage supplier – an expensive option, and it’s likely that you don’t really need the latest and greatest gear. Or, you can re-up and sign an extended service-and-support agreement with your primary vendor – another expensive option.

Alternatively, you can contract with a third party that provides support for all kinds of IT hardware. But let’s say you’re a NetApp shop: What level of expertise does a general-purpose third party really have on NetApp systems?

A third alternative is to sign a services-and-support contract with a third party that specializes specifically in the type of hardware you have. In the case of NetApp systems, a good example is Zerowait.

I recently chatted with Mike Linett, Zerowait’s president and CEO, and Rob Robinson, the company’s vice president of sales.

Zerowait specializes in service and support of NetApp equipment – and only NetApp. Prior to 2002, Zerowait was a NetApp reseller, but when NetApp nixed that deal Zerowait moved into the service and support business, competing with NetApp.

Linett claims that Zerowait typically charges about half of what NetApp charges for service and support. But according to one of Zerowait’s customers, the savings could actually be much higher.

“Zerowait is 50% to 90% less expensive than NetApp, depending how old your hardware is,” says Balazs Nagy, manager and chief architect at NewPush, an application and data warehousing hosting company. “The older the equipment, the more prohibitive NetApp makes it for service and support, and if the equipment is very old NetApp won’t even support it.”

NewPush has a services and support agreement with Zerowait that covers four NetApp systems.

Besides the basic support you would expect from a third party, what can a company such as Zerowait provide?

“Zerowait allows us to have spare parts onsite at a very low cost,” says Nagy, “but they also provide much more in-depth phone support than NetApp does, as well as remote or onsite engineering, architecting and education services.”

In a time of tight IT budgets, Zerowait seems to have a good business model. The company grew 45% last year, according to Linett. And Zerowait is expanding worldwide (Europe in 2008 and Australia near the end of last year).

“The typical lease is three years, but these days a lot of people want to extend that to five or six years before they do a refresh,” says Zerowait’s Robinson.

In addition to third-party support services, Zerowait also offers off-lease transferable license systems. More recently, the company began selling its SimplStor system for secondary storage. SimplStor is based on commodity hardware (SuperMicro chassis and drives from Seagate or Hitachi) and open-source operating systems.

NewPush, for example, recently began offering private remotely-managed storage services based on Zerowait’s SimplStor. The service, which starts at $75 per TB per month, is positioned as an alternative to public cloud storage services.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Chelsio challenges Emulex, QLogic, Intel, et al

February 28, 2011 – If you look at the converged network adapter market through the eyes of a storage professional, the first two vendors that may come to mind are Emulex and QLogic. If you look at it from a network professional’s view, you might think first of Intel and Broadcom. And if you’re into the high performance computing/clustering space, you might think of Mellanox.

There’s another key player in the converged adapter market: Chelsio Communications, which today announced a line of Unified Wire Adapters based on its Terminator 4 (T4) chips.

I recently spoke with Kianoosh Naghshineh, Chelsio’s CEO.

In the converged adapter market, vendors tend to crow about a few things: first to market, which generation silicon they’re on, how many storage/networking protocols they support and/or offload, how many virtualization standards they support, and how many ports per adapter they have.

Chelsio is firing on all those fronts. For example, the company introduced seven fourth-generation (T4-based) PCIe 2.0 adapters today with a variety of port configurations, including a version with four 10GbE ports and a version with four 1GbE ports. That differentiates Chelsio from some of the other players in the converged adapter market.

I hate to draw up laundry lists, but there’s no other way to convey how Chelsio differentiates itself from some of the other, more well-known, players – so here we go:

In terms of offload functionality, Chelsio has a TCP/IP Offload Engine (TOE), and also claims to be able to offload iWARP RDMA, iSCSI (full offload in T4), FCoE (open FCoE as well as full HBA, or hardware-based, FCoE offload ), UDP, and Multicast – most of which is new in the fourth generation adapters. The adapters also support the Data Center Bridging (DCB) protocol. (Of course, this begs the question of who would possibly want, or need, to run all of those protocols, but that’s a subject for another blog post.)

In terms of virtualization-related standards, Chelsio claims to support SR-IOV, VEB, VEPA, Flex10 and QFC/VNTag in its fourth-generation T4 adapters. The converged network adapters also include an embedded switch, which can be beneficial in virtualized environments because it can switch traffic from as many as 140 virtual and physical ports per adapter.

And Chelsio supports all that stuff on a single card and with one firmware version. (Some other converged network adapter vendors have different cards/firmware for different protocols.)

Pricing for Chelsio’s adapters starts at $579.

Unlike some other converged network adapter vendors, Chelsio does not announce all of its OEM design wins, but its publicly-announced server/storage OEMs include EMC (Isilon and Data Domain), HP, IBM, NEC and SGI. And Chelsio claims more than 100 OEM platform wins; 100,000+ ports shipped; and year-over-year revenue growth of 50%.

My point? The market for CNAs will be much more crowded and competitive than originally expected.

Related blog posts:

Intel’s card play in unified networking

Broadcom claims 2 million+ IOPS on converged controller

Related articles:

Emulex ships 10GbE CNAs to the channel

QLogic announces 10GbE NICs, CNAs

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cloud storage: Nirvanix takes shots at Amazon S3, EMC Atmos

February 24, 2011 – IDC predicts that by 2014 the cloud storage market will exceed $7 billion per year. That compares to about $1.5 billion in 2009. Assuming IDC’s prediction comes true (which is debatable), it’s no wonder that so many vendors are crowding into the cloud storage space.
But every small cloud storage equipment/services provider has to come up with a business case that sets them apart from the 800-pound gorillas in the market, most notably Amazon and EMC.

All of the smaller players have value propositions versus the big boys, but Nirvanix has recently become one of the more vocal challengers. To back up their claims, Nirvanix officials cite customers such as NBC Universal and GE, both of which deployed Nirvanix’s cloud storage platform after evaluating Amazon S3, EMC Atmos and other alternatives.

I recently chatted with Geoff Tudor, vice president for strategy and business development at Nirvanix, and Steve Zivanic, Nirvanix’s new vice president of marketing.

Versus Amazon’s S3, Nirvanix claims a number of advantages. For example, unlike Amazon, Nirvanix allows customers -- including security auditors -- to inspect its data centers (of which there are seven worldwide). That might not be a big deal for many companies, but for those that still harbor concerns about certain aspects of the cloud – such as security – it might be important.

Nirvanix also allows customers to determine where their data will reside, and to provision their data, and guarantees Quality of Service (QoS) levels. And Nirvanix enables federation of public (remote) and private (local) clouds.

Versus EMC Atmos, Nirvanix claims scalability advantages (billions vs. millions of files), the ability to federate public and private clouds (vs. only private clouds), and independence from specific hardware and file systems. Nirvanix’s Web Services Layer can sit on top of virtually any file system, including those from NetApp, EMC (Isilon and Celerra) Exanet and Ibrix. In addition, Nirvanix users only pay for usable capacity (aka storage-as-a-service); there are no extra charges for data protection capacity (e.g., replication, RAID 6).

Nirvanix also differentiates its approach to cloud storage by offering different deployment options, which the company collectively refers to as “CloudComplete.” At the heart of each deployment option is the CloudNAS gateway.

From there, users can leverage Nirvanix’s Storage Delivery Network (SDN) public cloud platform, which provides a federated, tiered grid with a single namespace and unified view, or go with the company’s hNode software, which provides a cloud services layer for hybrid (public and/or private) cloud architectures.

More cloud storage articles:
Is cloud-enabled DR ready for prime time?
EMC debuts self-service platform for cloud storage
eSilo tackles cloud-based backup, DR
3X upgrades cloud storage appliances

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

NetApp profits up, shares down

February 16, 2011 -- NetApp reported results for its fiscal 2011 third quarter on Wednesday. Revenue and earnings numbers were impressive, but guidance was apparently viewed as weak because investors sent NetApp’s stock price south.

NetApp raked in revenues of $1.27 billion in the third quarter. That compares to slightly more than $1 billion in the same period a year ago – a 25% growth rate.

Revenues for the first nine months of the fiscal year were $3.61 billion. And NetApp officials estimated revenue for the upcoming fourth quarter of approximately $1.38 billion. That means that the company has a good chance of topping the $5 billion mark for the full fiscal year.

Net income in 3Q2011 was $172 million, or $0.42 per share, compared to net income of $108 billion, or $0.30 a share, in 3Q2010.

Hardware (or what NetApp calls “product”) revenue was $818.6, up 32% year-over-year and +5% over the previous quarter. Software (“software entitlement and maintenance”) revenue was $183.8 million, which is a gain of 8% y-o-y and 3% sequentially. Revenue from services was $265.7 million, up 20% over the same quarter a year ago, and +6.5% sequentially.

I’m not a savvy investor, but those numbers look pretty good to me. Nevertheless, at one point after the report NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP) shares were down about 6%. I’d guess that they’ll recover fairly rapidly.

During its third quarter, NetApp made the biggest product launch in company history (see “NetApp overhauls product line, from arrays to OS” ).

More recently, the company bought Akorri (see “NetApp to acquire Akorri Networks” ), and plans to roll Akorri’s BalancePoint management suite into the NetApp OnCommand management suite.

Related article: “EMC announces 41 new products”

Monday, February 14, 2011

LTO crushes other tape formats

I’ve been around long enough to remember when the tape format wars were among the more interesting skirmishes in the storage industry. Remember LTO vs. DLT, DAT vs. AIT, 8mm vs. QIC, Stones vs. Beatles?
Today, the LTO tape format commands 87.2% of the tape cartridge market (excluding mainframe-oriented formats), according to tape media market research from the Santa Clara Consulting Group (SCCG). In the fourth quarter of 2010, revenue from LTO tape cartridges was about $182 million, vs. $209 million for the total tape cartridge market.

The surge in shipments of LTO cartridges is due in large part to the popularity of the newest generation of the format – LTO-5. Shipments of LTO-5 cartridges doubled in Q4 vs. Q3 (as was the case in Q3 vs. Q2), accounting for 10% of total cartridge sales and 25% of total revenue.

Even shipments of LTO-4 tape cartridges were up in the fourth quarter, representing 48% of total unit shipments and 24% of revenues.

At its current rate of market share gains, LTO will command more than 90% of the tape cartridge market by the end of this year.

HP led the LTO media market with a 34% market share, followed by Fujifilm and IBM, according to SCCG.

Near the end of last year, the LTO Program vendors (HP, IBM and Quantum) claimed that more than 3.3 million LTO tape drives, and more than 150 million LTO cartridges, have been shipped since the format was introduced.

Shipments of all other tape formats – including DDS/DAT, DLT, AIT, QIC and 8mm -- continued their ongoing declines. However, revenue from QIC cartridges – the oldest of the mid-range tape formats – still exceeded $1.8 million in the fourth quarter of last year.

Other tape-related blogs:

Who says tape is dead?

Tape: Spectra revenue up 60%, Oracle ships 5TB drive

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Top Ten Storage Startups

UPDATED Feb. 4, 2011 – Last year, the number of startups that entered the storage market just about equaled the number of storage vendors that were acquired in the M&A fever. I have no idea when a startup ceases to be a startup, but when I first started this top ten list I gave it a three-year window. That proved too daunting, and the startups that launched two or three years ago have received plenty of coverage anyway. So I made it easy on myself and limited my picks to startups that either launched or shipped their first products during 2010. I also factored in technology innovation, company management and funding.

In alphabetical order, here are some of the more promising startups:


Actifio coined the term “data management virtualization,” or DMV (but don’t try googling that acronym), to describe its software suite, which is packaged in appliances. The software is designed to reduce storage management costs (by as much as 90%, according to the company) by virtualizing storage resources and streamlining processes such as data protection, disaster recovery and business continuity. The goal is to reduce or eliminate separate silos of data protection point products.

“The paradigm we’re applying to data management is analogous to what virtualization did to servers,” said Ash Ashutosh, Actifio’s CEO (and formerly a founder of AppIQ, which was acquired by HP).

Related article: “Actifio introduces data management virtualization” (InfoStor)

Related blog post: “Keep an eye on this startup” (InfoStor)


BridgeSTOR may be the youngest startup on this list (the company shipped its first products in late November 2010), but founder John Matze has been around the block, having started storage companies such as Siafu Software (acquired by Hifn, which was acquired by Exar) and Okapi (acquired by Overland Storage).

BridgeSTOR’s Application-Optimized Storage (AOS) appliances can combine data reduction technologies such as data deduplication, compression and thin provisioning, as well as encryption. The appliances are currently available in three models tuned for specific application environments, including VMware virtualization, backup applications, and network storage (iSCSI and NAS).

“BridgeSTOR does for storage what VMware does for servers,” said Matze.

Related article: “Startup BridgeSTOR enters data reduction market” (InfoStor)

Cirtas Systems

Cloud storage is clearly among the top storage technologies for 2011, so Cirtas seems to be in the right place with its Bluejet Cloud Storage Controller. The controller migrates data between a high-performance local cache and the cloud based on data access patterns.

“Today’s cloud is not truly a replacement for enterprise storage,” said Josh Goldstein, Cirtas’ vice president of marketing and product management. “Enterprise organizations won’t use cloud storage as is because it is insecure, slow, costly and lacks enterprise-class features.”

Cirtas hopes to change that situation with the Bluejet Cloud Storage Controller, which includes features such as data encryption, automated tiering, data deduplication, WAN optimization, compression and snapshots.

Last month, Cirtas tapped Gary Messiana as CEO. Messiana formerly held CEO positions at Netli and Diligent Software. Cirtas co-founder Dan Decasper continues as CTO. The company also announced Series B funding of $22.5 million, led by Shasta Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners as well as first round investors NEA, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Amazon.

Related article: “Cirtas launches cloud storage controller” (Enterprise Storage Forum)


Gridstore’s NASg software virtualizes NAS nodes into a single pool of shared storage in a grid-based, parallel-processing, scale-out NAS architecture.

“The software resides on client systems and aggregates the processing power of those machines,” said Gridstore CEO and co-founder Kelly Murphy. “All of the storage processing is done on the client side, and we stripe data across all of the storage nodes.”

Gridstore won a “Best in Show” award in the “Best SMB Solution” category at the ITEXPO West 2010 show.

Related article: “Startup Gridstore addresses ‘NAS sprawl’” (InfoStor)


Infineta hopes to solve the problems associated with moving data between data centers. The startup’s Velocity Dedupe Engine appliances include hardware-based data deduplication and are aimed at storage applications such as SAN replication for disaster recovery, backup and recovery, data migration, and cloud deployments.

Related article: “Infineta unveils deduplication for inter-data-center traffic” (InfoStor)


Plenty of vendors are touting the performance improvements from integrating solid-state disk (SSD) drives in their arrays, but if you want really fast I/O consider Kaminario’s DRAM-based K2 system. The K2 architecture has two key elements: ioDirectors and Data Nodes.

Kaminario claims performance of 1.5 million IOPS, or 16GBps of throughput, on a high-end K2 configuration with eight ioDirectors.

Related blog post: “Startup claims 1.5 million IOPS on RAID array” (InfoStor)


Nasuni launched its Nasuni Filer cloud gateway software in early 2010. The 2.0 version of the software includes enhancements for Windows environments, as well as support for Hyper-V, Azure and DFS namespaces. Nasuni 2.0 cache keeps copies of working files in local storage for fast access and deduplicates, compresses and sends file changes to the cloud. The software is available as a downloadable VM image.

Related articles:

“Startup Nasuni puts primary NAS in the cloud” (InfoStor)

“Nasuni overhauls cloud NAS filer for Microsoft environments” (Enterprise Storage Forum)

Nimble Storage

Nimble Storage is taking a somewhat unique approach by converging primary and secondary storage in a single iSCSI system that includes flash drives and SATA drives. The company’s Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout (CASL) architecture uses multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash as a caching layer while offloading “cold” data to the SATA tier.

Features include inline data compression, data deduplication and WAN replication.

Nimble Storage recently received $16 million in Series C funding.

Related article: “Nimble iSCSI array merges primary, secondary storage” (Enterprise Storage Forum)


Pancetera is focused squarely on improving storage applications – primarily backup – in virtual environments. Last week, the company introduced Pancetera 2.1. New in the release is a SmartMotion module, which makes it easy to move VMs for applications such as backup, replication and migration, according to Bart Bartlett, Pancetera’s vice president of marketing. Bartlett claims that SmartMotion enables up to a 90% reduction in the bandwidth and time required to move VMs over LANs or WANs.

Pancetera also added change block tracking to its SmartRead module in the Unite 2.1 release, as well as a VMware vCenter Plugin.

Related article: “Pancetera reduces I/O for VM backups” (Enterprise Storage Forum)


StorSimple is combining four of the hottest technologies in the storage industry – cloud storage, tiered storage, data deduplication and SSDs – in its “application-optimized” cloud storage appliances for Windows applications. The startup shipped the StorSimple 5010 and 7010 appliances in December.

The company’s BlockRank technology automatically applies a priority to each block of data and places the data on the most appropriate storage tier (e.g., SSD, SAS, cloud), with the most-frequently-accessed data remaining on-premise. StorSimple’s appliances work with a variety of public cloud providers, including Amazon, AT&T, Iron Mountain and Microsoft’s Azure.

StorSimple has received a total of $21 million in funding (led by Mayfield Fund, which also funded 3PAR).


Rounding out our list is yet another cloud storage specialist: TwinStrata began shipping CloudArray in May 2010.

CloudArray is available as a software-only virtual appliance or in a bundled iSCSI hardware appliance. CloudArray provides a hybrid (private and public) cloud storage architecture, and can be used with cloud services platforms from vendors such as Amazon, AT&T, EMC, Mezzeo, Scality and others.

The software features dynamic caching, which enables administrators to create multiple caches to tune application performance. Other features of CloudArray include snapshots, inline compression, AES encryption, replication, and a "compute anywhere" feature that allows users to run the software in a public cloud.

Monday, January 31, 2011

TAPE: Spectra revenue up 60%, Oracle ships 5TB drive

January 31, 2011 – We’ve seen some impressive financial reports from the storage sector over the last week or so, but Spectra Logic’s caught my eye. The company recently reported on the first half of its fiscal year, which ended December 31.
Bearing in mind that this a company that focuses primarily on tape libraries (although it also sells disk-based backup systems): Spectra Logic’s overall revenue grew 34% year-over-year, but the real shocker was that revenue from its enterprise tape library line (T-Finity and Spectra T950) grew a whopping 60% and unit shipments grew about 100%.

Revenue from Spectra Logic’s T50e and T120 tape libraries grew 54%, and the company’s total tape library and media revenues increased more than 50% year-over-year.

As I -- and many others -- have said many times before, reports of the death of tape have been greatly exaggerated.

Company officials cited increased demand for tape libraries in applications such as active archives and cloud computing as driving forces behind the revenue growth.

Spectra Logic also got a strong assist from its channel partners, where revenue increased 70% year over year.


Meanwhile, at the high end of the tape market, Oracle announced the T10000C tape drive, which has a native capacity of 5TB and a native transfer rate of 240MBps. That’s more than 3X the capacity of LTO-5 tape drives, and 1.7X the transfer rate of LTO-5 (which is by a long shot the most popular tape format today).

The T10000C drives are available with native 4Gbps Fibre Channel interfaces or native FICON interfaces for connection to mainframes. The drives include inline encryption that does not degrade the 240Mbps performance, according to Tom Wultich, Oracle’s director of product management for storage.

Integrating the T10000C drive (which carries an Oracle-Sun-StorageTek brand) into Oracle’s high-end tape libraries (the SL8500 and SL3000) enables users to scale to a native capacity of 500PB. Assuming 2:1 compression, which is fairly standard in the tape arena, users can scale to an exabyte.

If archives keep expanding at a blistering pace, we’ll have to get used to that term ‘exabyte,’ which is one quintillion bytes (and conjures up fond memories of the company that used to go by that name).

Related blog post:

Who says tape is dead?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

EMC sets revenue records, again

January 25, 2011 – I couldn’t find an iota of bad news in EMC’s Q4 and year-end financial report today, so I turned to the financial analyst community. They couldn’t find anything negative either, although a few of them noted that, going forward, EMC may face more hurdles than it’s used to facing.
While generally praising EMC’s report, Technology Business Research (TBR) analyst Greg Richardson noted that “TBR expects EMC to face headwinds from multiple forces as it attempts to expand in the midmarket. Although the company posted 22% year-to-year growth in mid-tier revenue in 4Q10, we believe EMC will be forced to adjust its services model in order to win in the channel against NetApp, which leaves whitespace for channel partners to utilize their own services when deploying and supporting NetApp products.”

Richardson also noted that “Additionally, EMC will face a hurdle in the form of public cloud adoption. As customers become increasingly more comfortable and trusting of the cloud’s security, TBR expects adoption of public cloud to increase, particularly in the price-sensitive low end of the midmarket.”

And Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers noted that, going forward, EMC could face increasing competition at the high end (Symmetrix) of the market, particularly from Hitachi (Virtual Storage Platform), IBM (refreshed DS8000) and from 3PAR now that HP owns that company.

Other than those potential future challenges, everything’s coming up roses for EMC.

The company set records across the board in Q410 and for the full year. Fourth quarter revenue was $4.9 billion, up 19% over Q409. GAAP net income increased 61% year-over-year to $628.6 million. GAAP diluted earnings per share were up 53%. EMC closed the quarter with $9.5 billion in cash and investments.

For the full year (2010), EMC’s revenue was $17 billion, an increase of 21% over 2009 revenue. GAAP net income increased a whopping 75% to $1.9 billion, and diluted earnings per share were up 66%.

EMC executives expect 2011 revenue to be in the $19.6 billion range.

Diving a little deeper into EMC’s fourth quarter numbers: Symmetrix revenue increased 19% vs. Q4 2009, and revenue from the company’s mid-tier lineup (Clariion, Celerra, Centera, Data Domain, etc.) was up 23%. Revenue from majority-owned VMware was up 38%.

Looking ahead, I’m sure EMC will get a nice boost when the Isilon product line ramps, and I also expect very positive results from the recently introduced VNX/VNXe unified storage product line. And with the large amount of cash on hand, expect EMC to make some more acquisitions this year, most likely in the cloud and virtualization spaces.

Related article:

EMC announces 41 new products

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Review: "Data Center Storage"

I recently read an advance copy of a book that’s due to be published in mid-February. I know and respect the author, and it’s rare that we get entire books on our favorite subject, so I was anxious to read it. It’s called Data Center Storage: Cost-Effective Strategies, Implementation and Management, by Hubbert Smith (see bio at the end of this post).

This book makes the case that IT organizations spend too much on storage, examines why, and provides practical advice on how to correct that situation.

According to Hubbert, the root causes of over-spending include using direct-attached server storage instead of consolidated storage; using old school performance-optimized designs rather than capacity-optimized storage; relying on single-tier storage rather than tiered storage; backing up to tape in situations where snapshots should be used; and not employing tiered storage SLAs. And, of course, over-spending on storage will accelerate as volumes of incoming data ramp up.

After examining the root causes behind over-spending on storage, Data Center Storage then provides solutions to “deliver more while spending less.”

The author sets out to separate the signal from the noise surrounding data center storage through use cases and coverage of key issues in storage performance, capacity, power and cost. The examples are usually supported with simple “financial scenario A vs. financial scenario B” cost analysis, including hardware, maintenance and operational (people) costs. The book goes deep enough into the technologies to offer IT-business-level understanding and recommends specific improvements for IT managers.

Data Center Storage then covers the building blocks of storage, including hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state disk (SSD) drives, in business terms such as IOPS/$ and GB/$, leading the reader to an understanding of the tradeoffs between storage capacity, performance and costs. Data center power is covered to an adequate depth to improve IT-business-level understanding, and at the end of every section the book offers recommendations for improvements -- in the context of financial scenarios -- to assist in the justification of spending on improvements.

Storage consolidation and data protection are also covered and, consistent with other sections in the book, improvements are provided with financial comparison templates.

The next sections of the book build on the storage consolidation theme, introducing storage tiering and tiering-specific Service Level Agreements (SLAs) covering performance, capacity, up-time, growth, RPO/RTO and price. All of this is in support of the book’s central theme: delivery of service levels and fiscal responsibility.

Data Center Storage de-mystifies new, and not-so-new, technologies such as virtualization, replication, snapshots, thin provisioning, and unified storage (SAN/NAS). The book provides insight into where these technologies have a payoff and where they have limited payoff.

The final sections of the book build on storage consolidation, tiering, reliability and SLA approaches to guide your organization in taking advantage of managed hosting and cloud services, including project planning and service provider vetting and SLAs, all of which is supported with the “financial scenario A vs. financial scenario B” concept.

Data Center Storage closes with insights into roadmap creation, project management and financial justification drawn from the author’s experience in technology company processes, which are equally applicable to IT.

This book is not for readers looking for a technology-only book -- those that exhaustively describe the inner workings of all the various RAID levels and the intricacies of Fibre Channel zoning and similar technical deep-dive topics.

This book is for IT storage professionals who manage storage systems, especially those lobbying for storage improvements to meet “spend less and deliver more” directives. Data Center Storage improves the possibility of fruitful interactions with the folks that control the budget and spending on storage.

I’d also recommend the book for IT business professionals that are tired of the marketing noise and weary of hearing about all the solutions in search of problems. The book provides a business-level understanding of storage use cases and associated costs, and should lead to more informed spending decisions.

Most storage books cover technology, and not business, issues. In contrast, Data Center Storage offers a unique and useful approach to business-meets-storage-technology. And, as the fundamental components of data center storage (performance, capacity, reliability/up-time, power and price) do not change significantly over time, this book could be an often-referenced source for any IT department -- small, medium or large.

For more info or to place an advance order, visit the Data Center Storage page on

And here’s a little background on the author:

Hubbert Smith contributed to early versions of several disruptive technologies, including network-attached storage (NAS), server fail-over and storage replication. He also pioneered the creation and development of a new product category -- capacity optimized enterprise disk drives (aka Raid Edition) – which is used in enterprise storage and surveillance systems. Capacity-optimized drives now make up roughly one-third of all enterprise-class disk drives.

Smith contributed to the development of Serial ATA (SATA) industry standards, specifically those that enabled SATA to be used in enterprise storage systems. He is a patent holder and a published author (Serial ATA Architectures and Applications - Intel Press).

He holds a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University and is currently Director of Product Management at LSI.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

EMC + Dell: It’s not Ozzie and Harriet anymore

January 19, 2011 -- It’s not news that the fissure is getting deeper, and wider, in the once rock-solid reseller relationship between EMC and Dell. And the fissure started looking more like a crevasse this week as the relationship became icy when EMC introduced the VNX and VNXe (entry level) line of unified storage systems as part of a massive rollout of new products (see “EMC announces 41 new products” ).

EMC chairman, CEO and president Joe Tucci made a number of interesting remarks this week, but I think the most strident was in a CRN article where he was quoted as saying: “In this product line [the VNXe] there is no Dell partnership. In any conversations we have had with Dell, Dell will not take up this partnership. They will not resell this product.” (See Joe Kovar’s article on CRN: “EMC’s Tucci: No Dell Partnership With VNX/VNXe.”)

Tucci went on to say: “Obviously some channel partners – maybe all channel partners – would see Dell as a competitor. Here we are saying ‘Don’t worry about it – Dell is not getting this product.’ It sounds like I’m saying ‘You can’t have it, Dell’ [but] basically, it doesn’t fit their strategy. It doesn’t fit our strategy.”

But it’s important to note that those comments related to the low-end VNXe (which has a starting price of less than $10,000), not the VNX line.

Here’s what Dell has to say, courtesy Dell spokesperson David Graves: “Dell is selling VNX through our reseller agreement. A Dell-branded OEM version of VNX is still in discussion. Dell and EMC have mutually agreed not to use Dell as a channel for the VNXe product – either as a reseller or a Dell-branded OEM offering.”

So Dell will not resell the VNXe but will – at least for now – resell the VNX as an EMC-branded product with the (unlikely) possibility of reselling it with the Dell-EMC brand.

A little (probably unnecessary for InfoStor readers) history: The EMC-Dell relationship began 10 years ago and was for some time a wildly successful win-win. The fissure in the relationship probably started to appear when Dell acquired EqualLogic, which put Dell on the storage map. (In its last reporting period, Dell stated that revenue from the EqualLogic line grew 66% over the previous year.)

The fissure widened when Dell made a bid for 3PAR (eventually losing a bidding war with HP) and started looking like a chasm when Dell said it would acquire Compellent, which is still in progress.

The decision (by EMC or Dell or both?) for Dell to not resell the VNXe is a real boon to EMC’s resellers, which otherwise would have had to compete with Dell. But the two companies should do the entire channel a favor and just sever the relationship and move on.

Related articles:

EMC announces 41 new products (InfoStor)

EMC’s Tucci: No Dell Partnership With VNX/VNXe (CRN)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Top Five Storage Technologies for 2011

January 10, 2011 – Any top technologies list is somewhat (totally?) arbitrary. Do you pick them based on how interesting the technologies are? How much end-user interest is behind them? The extent to which the technologies will benefit end users? How much revenue they’ll generate? Or all of the above? Let’s go with “all of the above.”

Here’s my list of some of the key storage technologies for this year (in no particular order), with links to related in-depth features and recent product news articles from InfoStor and our partner site Enterprise Storage Forum.

#1. Solid-state disk (SSD) drives

2011 will finally be The Year of SSDs. All of the major disk array vendors now offer SSDs (mostly from STEC, although competition will heat up significantly this year). Prices are declining rapidly as volumes increase and technology improves. Some vendors are positioning relatively inexpensive multi-level cell (MLC), as opposed to single-level cell (SLC), NAND flash for enterprise duty. SSD and controller vendors have solved most of the issues around reliability and endurance which, together with the price declines, eliminate the primary gating factors to end-user adoption of SSDs.

Market researcher IDC predicts that the total SSD market will grow at a 58% CAGR in unit shipments and a 44% CAGR in revenues over the next few years.

The fastest growing segment of the overall market is enterprise-class SSDs, where unit shipment are expected to surge at a CAGR of 74%, and revenues are expected to grow at a 54% clip, through 2014.

IDC expects the total SSD market to exceed $7 billion in 2014.

Related articles:

Why solid state drives won’t replace spinning disk (Enterprise Storage Forum)

Fixing SSD performance degradation, part 1 (Enterprise Storage Forum)

Fixing SSD performance degradation, part 2 (Enterprise Storage Forum)

SSDs hit mainstream stride

Intel ships miniature SSDs

SSD update: Toshiba, OCZ

Hitachi GST enters SSD market

STEC scores OEM win with IBM for MLC SSDs

LSI ships SSD-based accelerator card

#2. Data reduction (data deduplication and/or compression) for primary storage

Just like data deduplication for secondary storage swept the market and became mainstream over the last couple years, data reduction for primary storage will gain traction in end-user adoption over the next two years.

Interest in data reduction for primary storage picked up significantly last year due in large part to a number of factors, including NetApp’s evangelizing the technology, IBM’s acquisition of Storwize, Dell’s acquisition of Ocarina, and the entry of startups such as BridgeSTOR.

Related articles:

IBM to buy Storwize for real-time data compression (Enterprise Storage Forum)

Dell to acquire Ocarina for data deduplication

Startup BridgeSTOR enters data reduction market

Musings on the future of data dedupe (blog post)

Data deduplication: Permabit finds success with OEM model (blog post)

#3. Cloud storage

A few years after the term ‘cloud storage’ was introduced, vendors and users are still debating what it is. Let’s just call it storage-as-a-service, whether internal (private) or external (public, or hosted). There were probably more product/service announcements regarding cloud storage last year than any other technology. And there’s little doubt that will continue in 2011.

Related articles:

SNIA forms Cloud Backup and Recovery SIG

SNIA develops standards for cloud storage

SNIA completes cloud storage standard

Guidelines for implementing cloud storage

EMC debuts self-service platform for cloud storage

F5 ARX appliances integrate with cloud storage

#4. Data center convergence

Data center convergence can be viewed as the unification of storage, servers and networks, or, as the convergence of networks. In the context of the latter, we’ll see increased end-user interest in Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) in 2011, which was stalled over the last year due in part to the slump in IT spending. But as the IT world moves to 10GbE, the old FCoE-vs.-iSCSI debate will be renewed this year (with a lot of the debate centered on performance and cost issues).

I also expect a lot of controversy over the various approaches to converged (10GbE/FC/iSCSI) adapters, which are usually referred to as converged network adapters (CNAs). Expect a battle royale between vendors such as Emulex, QLogic, Intel, Broadcom and others.

Related articles:

Guidelines for FCoE deployment

FCoE I/O convergence and virtualization

Brocade moves FCoE beyond top-of-rack (Enterprise Storage Forum)

Broadcom claims 2 million+ IOPS on converged controller (blog post)

Intel’s card play in unified networking (10GbE+iSCSI+FCoE)

#5. Storage solutions for virtual servers and desktops

There has been a lot of innovation from storage vendors as well as virtual server platform vendors over the last few years in the area of optimizing storage for virtual server environments, particularly in disk arrays and backup/recovery software. But this year, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) deployments will take off, and just as virtual servers created a lot of storage challenges, so will VDI.

According to a Client Virtualization Straw Poll conducted by CDW, which surveyed 200 IT managers, 91% of the respondents plan to implement some form of client virtualization within the next 12 to 24 months. The primary drivers behind adoption of client virtualization are improved operational efficiency and reduced costs (expected savings were estimated at 20% of the IT budget, according to early adopters).

Related articles:

Storage considerations for VDI implementations

Seven steps to a successful VDI implementation

FalconStor adds VDI support to SAN Accelerator

Related blog post: The Top Ten storage acquisitions of 2010

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Top Ten Storage Acquisitions of 2010

January 3, 2011 -- I originally posted a Top Ten acquisitions list in September, under the assumption that after the blockbuster HP-3PAR buyout we may have seen the last of the big storage acquisitions for the year. Wrong. The storage industry capped a crazy year of M&A fever with the EMC-Isilon and Dell-Compellent acquisitions. With those additions, I had to knock off from the list a few of the relatively minor acquisitions of the year, including SolarWinds’ acquisition of Tek-Tools and Exar’s buyout of Neterion.
Here's my revised list of the Top 10 storage acquisitions of 2010, in ascending order:


Throughout the 1990s, Adaptec was synonymous with SCSI, and had a lock on the SCSI controller/adapter market. The company reached its heyday when it racked up revenues of about $800 million in fiscal 2000. But Adaptec didn’t see the winds of change blowing.

PMC-Sierra acquired Adaptec this summer for a mere $34 million.

In addition to Adaptec’s technology and products, PMC acquired Adaptec’s extensive channel, where it is still strong in RAID adapters.

PMC-Sierra’s acquisition of Adaptec puts the company in even more intense competition with arch enemy LSI. Now PMC will compete in the channel with LSI at the board level, whereas previously the battle was fought primarily on the semiconductor front.

Related articles:
PMC-Sierra to buy Adaptec’s channel storage business
PMC-Sierra ships 6Gbps SAS controllers


The terms of the NetApp-Bycast deal were not disclosed. According to our original article on the acquisition: “NetApp is advancing its efforts in the cloud storage market with the acquisition of Bycast, a developer of object-based storage virtualization software that turns multiple storage devices across geographically-dispersed locations into a single pool for storing fixed content data.”

See “NetApp to acquire Bycast for cloud storage software”

NetApp plans to leverage Bycast technology to go after markets such as digital media, Web 2.0, healthcare, and cloud services providers.

Bycast’s flagship product is its StorageGRID virtualization software. It will be interesting to see what happens to some of Bycast’s existing OEM deals, which include partnerships with IBM and HP.


Prior to acquiring ServerEngines, Emulex was in a dicey position: The company licensed critical technology, including 10GbE ASICs, from ServerEngines and that technology was key to Emulex’s (at the time) risky gamble of betting the farm on 10GbE (and going head-to-head with Ethernet giants Broadcom and Intel, in addition to long-time rival QLogic and others).

The position was dicey because a competitor could scoop up ServerEngines, thus pulling the rug from underneath Emulex’s strategy. Emulex paid a high price for ServerEngines, but there wasn’t any choice.

According to our original article on the acquisition: “Emulex will acquire ServerEngines for $78 million in cash and eight million shares of Emulex stock. Based on Emulex’s closing price of $10.11 last week, those eight million shares would translate into an additional $81 million, bringing the total to almost $160 million.”

But wait, there’s more: “In addition, Emulex will issue four million shares of stock if ServerEngines meets certain business objectives by the end of 2011. Emulex also agreed to assume ServerEngines’ debt, which is currently $25 million. As such, the deal could eventually exceed $200 million.”

See “Emulex to acquire ServerEngines”

The bet, and the acquisition, seem to have paid off. Emulex has racked up a number of OEM design wins for its 10GbE/FCoE/iSCSI converged network adapters (CNAs), including Dell, EMC, HDS, HP, IBM and NetApp.

ServerEngines was founded in 2004 by former Broadcom engineers that were previously with ServerWorks, which was acquired by Broadcom in 2001. In early 2009, Broadcom launched an unsuccessful hostile takeover of Emulex.


Rumored to be in the $150 million ballpark, Dell’s acquisition of Ocarina came as a surprise to almost everybody, and (along with #6, see below) confirmed that capacity optimization (data deduplication and/or compression) of primary storage is The Next Big Thing.

According to my original blog post on this acquisition (see “Dell to acquire Ocarina for data deduplication”): “Until the announcement of its embeddable, OEM version of its software, Ocarina was known primarily as a vendor of data reduction technology for primary storage. But the embeddable version is applicable across the storage spectrum, from primary storage to backup and archive.”

I think Dell will initially leverage Ocarina’s technology in image-intensive, fixed-content applications on primary storage. That space is where, so far, Ocarina has made its mark, with large wins at companies such as Kodak. Dell will probably continue to resell Symantec, CommVault and Data Domain software where those companies’ technologies make more sense, or where customers demand it.

And in a related Top 10 acquisition . . .


This one had been rumored for weeks before IBM made it official, so it ranks low on the surprise factor but high on the industry influence scale. Even more than the Dell-Ocarina deal, and even more than NetApp’s evangelizing, IBM’s acquisition of data compression specialist Storwize put data reduction for primary storage in a top spot among Hot Storage Technologies.

Rumors put this deal in the range of $140 million.

Storwize’s data reduction technology differs from some of its competitors in that it is in-line, real-time compression, as opposed to data deduplication.

It’s certainly not an understatement to say that being acquired by IBM was the smartest thing Storwize did since changing its name from Storwiz.

The Storwize product line is now part of the IBM Real-time Compression business unit.

See “IBM to Buy Storwize for Real-Time Data Compression” on InfoStor partner site Enterprise Storage Forum.


This one ranked high on the surprise factor and it also ranked high in dollars, being valued at $242 million.

That amounted to about $10.55 per Double-Take share. Double-Take went public in 2006 at about $11 a share.

Prior to the Vision Solutions announcement, it was well known that Double-Take was on the block, with vendors such as Dell and HP considered to be potential acquirers.

Vision Solutions specializes in data protection software for IBM systems, while Double-Take’s strengths are in backup, replication, disaster recovery and high availability software, primarily for Microsoft platforms.

See “Vision Solutions to acquire Double-Take”


I never did find out exactly what EMC paid for Greenplum, a data warehousing and analytics specialist, but my (questionable) sources tell me that the acquisition payment would easily put the deal near the top of this list.

Greenplum claims more than 100 customers, including NASDAQ OMX, NYSE Euronext, Skype, Equifax and T-Mobile.

In addition to its massively parallel processing (MPP) Greenplum Database, the company has Greenplum Chorus, a cloud platform for collaboration and data sharing. Greenplum became the foundation of a new division within EMC’s Information Infrastructure business.

Greenplum is a nice fit with EMC’s cloud initiatives, but it also heats up the competition between EMC, Oracle, IBM and Sun.

See “EMC acquires data warehousing vendor Greenplum”


This one may not be a done deal, but it’s pretty close so Dell’s “take-under” acquisition of Compellent takes the #3 spot on our list. The latest offer is $27.75 per share, which translates into about $960 million, or $820 million net of Compellent’s cash.

In a sense, Compellent is a consolation prize after Dell lost the bidding war with HP over 3PAR. Acquiring 3PAR would have solidified Dell’s position in high-end disk arrays, but Compellent fills out Dell’s mid-range (and slightly high-end) positioning.

It will be interesting to see how Dell positions Compellent’s disk arrays relative to the EqualLogic product line (which grew 66% in revenues over the last year), but it will be even more interesting to see what happens to Dell’s EMC reseller agreement.


EMC shelled out around $2.25 billion for scale-out NAS vendor Isilon Systems, net of Isilon’s existing cash balance. That’s an eye-popping amount of cash, particularly considering that Isilon was barely profitable, but market researcher IDC predicts that the scale-out NAS market will grow on average about 36% annually, reaching an estimated $6 billion in 2014.

According to EMC’s press release on the announcement: “EMC’s Atmos and Isilon’s solutions will offer customers a highly scalable, low-cost storage infrastructure for managing ‘Big Data’ . . . EMC Atmos object storage provides the perfect complement to Isilon for massive globally distributed environments and object access to data for usages like Web 2.0 applications.”

EMC officials estimate that the combined revenue from the Isilon and Atmos platforms will hit a $1 billion run rate during the second half of 2012. EMC also emphasized synergies between Isilon’s clustered scale-out NAS platforms and systems/software from Greenplum.

Isilon wasn’t EMC’s only acquisition this year. The company bought Bus-Tech about a week prior to the Isilon announcement. Bus-Tech specializes in VTL technology for mainframe environments. The financial terms of the Bus-Tech acquisition were not disclosed.

See “EMC snaps up Isilon for $2.25 billion” on InfoStor partner site Enterprise Storage Forum.

#1: HP – 3PAR

By virtue of its price ($2.4 billion) and the drama of the bidding war with Dell (which started at $1.15 billion), HP’s acquisition of 3PAR was clearly the #1 storage acquisition of 2010.

The acquisition of 3PAR puts HP in a much better competitive position, but it will be interesting to see what happens to the rest of HP’s disk array lineup. Does the 3PAR acquisition sound the death knell for the venerable EVA line? And what will be the fate of HP’s reseller deal with Hitachi? Months after the acquisition was announced, we still have more questions than answers on this acquisition.

2010 wasn’t a record-setting year in terms of the number of storage acquisitions, but it certainly was a record setter in terms of the amount of money that was shelled out.

As we enter 2011, the big question is: Who will be acquired next? According to the financial analyst community, CommVault is the most likely storage vendor to be acquired, but other possibilities cited by financial analysts include (in no particular order) Xiotech, Brocade, BlueArc, FalconStor and NetApp.

Related article:

Top 10 Storage Predictions for 2011 (by Henry Newman, on Enterprise Storage Forum)