Archives for April 2012

Skimming content from Calvin’s blog – my homies!

 

Two of my buddies from HP, Calvin Zito and Michael Haag recorded a podcast at SNW last week.  The topic is Building Storage for Virtualization.  In addition to having good content, this podcast is very well recorded – good job Calvin.  Of course, the discussion moved to 3PAR systems and although I no longer work for HP/3PAR, I still like the 3PAR system and its architecture.  I’m glad that StorSimple does not compete with 3PAR because I have so many good friends over there.

At one point Calvin suggests that Michael sounds like JR (Jim Richardson, legendary 3PAR employee).  No, Michael you don’t, thank goodness.  I can’t imagine two JRs breathing the same air – something would have to give.

At the end of the podcast, they talk about storage efficiency for virtual servers. The two technologies mentioned were thin provisioning and deduplication.  While StorSimple is now becoming known for it’s cloud integration, I always like reminding people that our systems use both thin provisioning and deduplication technologies with primary storage.

Not dead yet, but when will you get rid of tape?

Do you have any more tapes you want to get rid of?

People have predicted the ending of tape as a storage medium since the first rotating storage drums were made by wrapping recording tape around modified washing machine drums. Too cumbersome and too error prone, tape has survived because people use it for archiving and off-site DR storage. It has always been the storage backstop for all the other things that can go wrong – from human error to combinations of calamities that are stranger than fiction.

But tape itself has been a big problem. It is a byzantine technology with impressive data fast transfer rates, but is saddled by cumbersome management that requires many touch points where things can go wrong. Restoring from multiple tapes is time consuming and unnerving, but considered normal. Contrast that with using dedupe technology that can access and restore  data much more quickly.  The main problem with dedupe is it’s cost. The most popular disk-based dedupe systems are not necessarily cheap. The other problem is that many customers still use tape with dedupe for DR purposes. Used this way, tape it is less intrusive, but it still is a pain.

Disk-based dedupe has taken a big bite out of tape’s business, but yet tape has continued limping along like an unkillable zombie. Now with cloud backup looking like it could take even more out of tape’s market, is tape going to finally keel over?

Tape is tired

 

Putting tape backups on less expensive virtual tape cloud storage could look like an obvious solution, but like all things in storage, initial impressions are usually misleading. While cloud storage can be made to look like a big disk or tape drive in the sky, it is much slower than the old frenemy tape. The difference is most pronounced when you want it to be most transparent – during restores. Technologies for data reduction, such as deduplication and compression help, but the fastest restores from the cloud will use technologies like thin restores that were developed by StorSimple. Why restore data that you probably won’t need again? Just leave it in the cloud.

But getting back to tape, the cloud industry is making enormous investments in service offerings, including storage services, which will continue to be improved and expanded.  The cloud service providers are not stupid. They want your data so they can get your computing business when you are ready to start doing that.

Tape technology vendors do not have the marketing muscle to protect their install base, regardless of how entrenched those customers may appear. The fact is, only the largest IT shops have the resources to “do tape” well. Everybody else struggles with the stuff and will happy to jettison it as soon as they can.

So will tape disappear completely if most of the market goes away? Probably not, for starters cloud storage service providers will probably use a lot of tape, and large customers that know how to make it work will continue to want it.

My guess is that tape will follow the path of mainframe technologies into the mostly invisible corners of the technology industry where vendors are few and margins are high. Tape won’t die, it will only seem like it did.

How much data do you need to keep around?

When we think about data growth we tend to think about all the new data that is being created all the time. But what happens to new data? It gets old, like everything else in this world.

Then what? Usually nothing. It just stays there, taking up capacity. Capacity that could be used for new data. We all know how that turns out. We end up buying more storage and then we start the cycle all over again.

But what if you had a way to deal with old data so it didn’t take up so much capacity? What if you could just get rid of old data by putting it somewhere else – deduped and compressed? What if you could still access that data, just like you always did before? What if you didn’t have to buy a lot of equipment to make it work?

Do you think that would help you manage capacity?

If you like what you’re reading, you should really check out StorSimple, the company I work for. We have amazing new technology our customers love.