The first day of storage show Storage Network World here in Frankfurt saw a flutter of new products, and some interesting conversations.
Emulex monitors SANs
Storage area networking saw a new management system from Emulex, the host bus adaptor (HBA) vendor, which competes with LSI Logic and Qlogic. Building on its OneCommand management software -- this time last year saw the company launching security extensions for it -- Emulex now brings performance monitoring with OneCommand Vision 2.
The idea is that you can monitor and troubleshoot the performance of your SAN from the point of view of the application. "We see the paths from host to LUN, which means that we can ensure they're properly configured, that all paths are in use and working properly," said the company's John Waszak. He agreed that the product was to an extent a defensive product from Emulex's point of view because it allows users to see if problems lie in the HBA or elsewhere in the storage chain. An advantage over competitors such as Virtual Instruments (VI), which makes physical storage network taps, is that it's more flexible and cheaper, the company said. However, VI's systems can return much more information gleaned from optical signals. A licence for the Emulex product will cost you $28,000 for the base product for 10 servers, then $300/server.
Avere fronts NAS
Avere's Rebecca Thompson talked about the company's latest storage accelerators, the FXT 3000 and FXT 4000, launched three weeks ago. These boxes mean that you don't need to rip out your old storage as your performance needs grow -- think VM hosts that chew random data. Instead, you plonk an Avere box, which can be stuffed with one or more modules consisting of either DRAM, SSD or SAS based storage, between servers and storage arrays. In this way, it acts as a massive cache. How you specify the storage in the cache depends on the the application. The benefit, according to Avere anyway, is reduced latency. The company also claims it can save you money by reducing the amount of new storage you need because you don't need to buy extra spindles for performance, and also saves energy.
Since Avere's technology is designed to front systems from the likes of NAS vendor NetApp, I asked the company's John Rollason what he thought of Avere. He said that NetApp gear caches all data so you don't need products such as Avere's. Also, you need a big workload to justify the cost. He added that if you deduplicate first, you effectively get more data into the cache, as you need only cache one copy instead of several, and that this would boost performance.
Dell needs to integrate
On a wider canvas, Dell's Bryan Jones spoke to me about the work Dell has yet to do to unify its disparate storage portfolio. Having purchased a bundle of companies and technologies in recent years, including EqualLogic (iSCSI storage), Exanet (clustered storage), Ocarina (data compression) and Compellent (tiering and storage area networking), Dell now needs to integrate them, Jones agreed. The Compellent and EqualLogic systems will move closer, he said, with a plan to bring Ocarina and the Exanet functionality across all of Dell's storage. He didn't know the timetable for this but said that the converged offering would go into Dell's own cloud computing services.
Jones also had a spin on why the Dell-EMC relationship came to an end. Yes, it meant there was less money going from Dell's sales efforts into EMC's pockets. But it also meant that "you need to provide customers with all the tools out of the box. We had a point of view that storage should be simpler, cheaper, not magic." Product direction and control were also issues. "We aim for simplification. We aim for to make it all work together," Jones said.