get ready for some rambling - lots to cover....
For those unfamiliar, Storage Networking World is a Computerworld magazine and SNIA sponsored event. Held twice a year in the US. The largest storage-only event. This is a vendor love fest, designed to bring end-users and vendors together to talk things over, get educated and generally develop a sense of the storage market for businesses. Definitely not for consumers.
As an analyst, at SNW I spend my time meeting with vendors, to hear their latest, discuss hot topics and encourage them to address customer needs. It's also a great opportunity to talk with end-users to discuss what's of interest to them.
Frankly I was unprepared for the intense reaction I got regarding my SMI-S blog - I could hardly walk around without someone bending my ear about it - but more on that later.
Here's a quick drive by of what I learned:
This turned out to be an intense topic - I was not expecting the passion on this subject. In a meeting with Cisco, it was clear that they are all over it and pushing it hard.
We at Burton Group have been somewhat tepid on the FCOE subject. Yes, FCOE helps bridge the gap between an FC and Ethernet topology, but iSCSI offers a better price point for new installs. There is a place and value for both technologies.
Intel (they've got a 10Gig adapter) expressed an agnostic view on the subject, supporting both FCOE and iSCSI. Intel is definitely in the "let's see what develops" camp providing product support either way. Of course Emulex is all over the FC/FCOE market with their adapters. Netapp, bravely leading the market from the FCOE target side and taking a "let's see what happens view", will be delivering an FCOE target - nothing new here just reiteration of past activity.
Mostly I heard - "let's see how it goes". For the risk adverse, its still early for FCOE. Expect to see credible full implementations the second half 2009.
So we'll see how FCOE adoption goes - the market will decide. To hear more of the Burton Group view, jump on a plane to Prague and attend the Catalyst event starting this week. Good luck with the airplane ticket prices!
Based on my SMI-S blog, at times I thought I might need a security detail to escort me around the convention ;-} I had barely left the registration desk before being hit up for a discussion. My comments are meant to be constructive. There are some inconvenient truths to be dealt with here. After meeting with the leadership of the SNIA board, it's clear that it's time for SNIA folks to huddle and develop a SMI-s game plan. A restatement of the goals for SMI-s would be a good first step. SNIA is teeming with smart people. Best wishes.
Storage is getting so complicated - you'd think that it would be getting simpler. So many vendors, so many product variants. The product overlap is overwhelming. There are lots of great storage products out there, it must make customers' heads explode...hmmm bad image...
Microsoft told about where they're taking DPM. They said that ...opps can't talk about it but take a look at this blog and look for significant enhancements. And Sun let us know about their plans for ...opps can't talk about it but look for leveraging of the Sun open storage initiative and the application of SSDs...IBM ran through their SAN volume controller for mid-range businesses - a full featured yet less performing version of their enterprise product. HDS has a new mid-range truly active-active 3Gb/s SAS disk array. Xiotech with their over-the-top marketing sung themselves praises. Hats off to Xiotech for having an actual customer in the briefing. Riverbed is making noise about getting into the storage biz with an appliance that does inline dedup, consolidation and WAN acceleration - I'm not sure how to categorize it. Bluearc has a nice story for performance NAS using TMS's SSDs as a high performance tier. And finally F5-Acopia describe their existing network based virtualization appliance to me.
All good stuff, too much to cover in this blog.
Drum roll please..*************BAM
My favorite subject. You may recall in my SSD related blog I said, "we need storage subsystem providers to start shipping product with SSDs in them!" Products are starting to arrive. Yes, they are somewhat brutish and much optimization lies ahead, but the game is on.
First, Intel announced availability of their enterprise SSD. Awesome performance. Small capacity. But a great start. Intel continues to legitimize the SSD enterprise offerings. Yes, kudo's to the other suppliers out there. Request to Intel: please help to standardize the spec'ing of SSDs. Performance, power, wear, bit error rates and failure rates need to be addressed. Intel, you know what to do.
The vendors offering SSD's in their products increased dramatically. Joining the existing SSD gang, EMC, Fusion-IO, TMS are vendors that either announced product or intent: Compellent, Verari, Sun, Wasabi and Rackable. More are coming - I just can't spill the beans just yet. If I missed someone, please comment on the blog - the list grows every week. Lots of rumors out there. IBM's showing a SVC-based million IOP beast using Fusion-IO under the covers, expect this to be productized as well.
Of course, HP now ships blade servers, not to mention laptops, with SSDs. How long will it be before SSD chip sets end up on a server motherboard?
For Burton Group clients, watch for my upcoming in depth research document on SSD's.
I declare the SSD games open!
But I would call these Novelty products - designed for extreme IOPs, not so much a blended IOP-capacity capability and, unfortunately, with premium pricing. Close but not yet where the market needs to go.
Here's what the market will really love: a blended system with SSDs for performance and terabyte SATA disks for capacity. To make this work, auto-tiering will be needed under the covers, transparent to users. Ideally, this product would allow policy-based data movement leveraging usage patterns and storage costs. Compellent is uniquely positioned to do this, but I fear their infrastructure is not yet optimized for SSDs. SUN's got some interesting ideas using ZFS. And, Wasabi, a small but innovative vendor, is combining SSDs with an object-based file system, which theoretically can easily identify and move data objects across performance tiers.
And to drive down SSD subsystem costs, the "D" must be removed from SSD and replaced with "PM" for persistent memory. Repackaging SSPM's within a storage subsystem will greatly reduce costs and allow for performance optimization, not unlike what Fusion-IO and Violin already conceive.
Exciting times. But be patient - this may take years to unfold...development cycles can be long...and, of course, whatever we end up with will likely be complex beyond comprehension.
Perhaps the geniuses who dreamed up credit default swaps can help out ;-}
Let me know what you thought of SNW by commenting on this blog. Thanks!
Posted by Gene Ruth