Displaying articles for: 07-26-2009 - 08-01-2009
By Mike Moroze, HP LeftHand Usability Corner
I sat down with Chris McCall the manager of product marketing in our Unified Storage Division (a part of HP's StorageWorks Division) to discuss how small and medium sized companies are looking at virtualization. What we're seeing is that more and more small and medium sized companies are finding that their virtualization requirements are similar to large enterprises. I asked Chris some question to help me understand the SMB and virtualization market better.
Usability Corner (UC): Virtualization seems to be taking off in the enterprise business space, do you see a similar trajectory for the Small-Medium Business (SMB)? If so, why?
Chris McCall (CM): No, I see a different trajectory for SMB. Virtualization in the SMB space is not growing as fast as in the enterprise space because virtualization puts up a few roadblocks that make it difficult for SMB's to implement. They can limit the full potential of virtualization. The biggest roadblock to virtualization is storage; for many SMB's, it's too expensive and requires too many resources to manage and implement. However, VMWare HA (high availability), and VMotion - require shared storage.
UC: Why would an SMB customer choose an HP LeftHand virtualization solution over another vendor's solution?
CM: For SMB customers that expect their virtual environment to grow, HP LeftHand solutions provides a very cost-effective entry point which is massively scalable. Purchase what you want to today and grow it to whatever size you want -- maintaining HA. And for customers that don't want to deal with external storage we have the VSA (Virtual Storage Appliance) which transforms server disk drives into iSCSI SANs with the same level of scalability.
UC: Usability can bring several competitive advantages to a product. Can you comment on what advantages you see our customers relying on in terms of the usability of the HP LeftHand solution?
CM: Virtual Server environments provide a very dynamic application environment. Customers can roll out new applications, change configurations, and move workloads around very easily. So what does that mean from a storage manageability perspective? It puts pressure on being able to change storage configurations more often. Any product that allows simple on-line storage configurations so your storage needs can change quickly and frequently is not only a competitive advantage but a requirement. Our HP LeftHand P4000 Centralized Management Console allows us to do that easily - the GUI (Graphical User Interface) makes it simple without any downtime with your volumes.
UC: What key usability advantages do you believe that the HP LeftHand solutions have over the competition?
CM: Non-disruptive configuration changes, non-disruptive performance scaling, simple GUI requires less time to manage; Our solution provides for easy thin provisioning - there are no setting of thresholds, growth increments, etc. --- same with snapshots, you don't have to set reserves and there's no guesswork - the system takes care of all that for you.
UC: In the context of SMBs and virtualization - virtualization typically provides a fairly high ROI. Would you agree that ROI is an important decision criterion for virtualization? What other criteria are important for SMB storage decisions?
CM - ROI used to be the number one criteria; improving business continuity has become number one over the last year. For SMBs, business continuance has become more important because with virtualization, you're putting more eggs in fewer baskets.
UC: ROI of usability is also frequently referenced as a reason to ensure usability is considered in product development. Would you agree? What other reasons would there be to include usability in HP LeftHand solutions?
CM: Yes absolutely - usability is all about ROI. Customer satisfaction and troubleshooting are also critical -- the easier it is to understand what's going on, the more likely you are to avoid potential downtime.
UC: How would you rate the usability of our solution for the SMB customer compared to our competitors?
CM: Considering the comprehensive feature set provided in addition to simplicity, I honestly believe HP P4000 is the best- take a look at the Windows IT Pro article from by Michael Otey which just posted.
UC: What are the 3 or so main pain points that virtualization is solving for the SMB customer? How does our solution help alleviate these pain points?
- First - Cost - you can run more apps on less servers. However, this means you're putting more of your eggs in fewer baskets, which leads to the next issue;
- Second - Maintaining high availability
- Third - Improve IT environment flexibility
HP LeftHand addresses the cost issue by providing a solution that allows you to buy only what you need to today and grow it non-disruptively. Also, thin provisioning cuts initial outlay, and for customers that want to leverage server disk drives, VSA eliminates the need for external storage hardware. High availability is achieved by HP LeftHand's highly redundant and highly available solutions that leverage Network RAID in addition to the traditional HW RAID. These solutions protect against more than just disk drives and controller failures. Our system can stay online during full node failures, air conditioning failures, power outages, etc. - applications never lose access to their data.
Our solutions improve your IT environment's flexibility. All configuration changes, and increasing performance and capacity can be done non-disruptively which delivers a flexible storage environment which you need for flexible IT environment.
UC: Any thoughts on how HP LeftHand can improve its customer focus in designing and developing solutions that meet our customer needs?
CM: Ultimately, we don't want users using our UI, we want it so simple that it rolls into the IT environment and you don't have to manage storage as a separate entity, everything just works... Storage tasks are automated with higher level IT tasks -- like rolling out applications or increasing application performance.
UC: Thanks Chris!
By Jim Haberkorn
I had hoped that my last post in regards to NetApp performance claims would end gracefully, as a courageous NetApp employee has apparently now agreed to work with us to find out what we may be doing wrong, if anything, to be getting such poor performance out of our NetApp filer. FYI: That discussion has now moved to engineer Karl Dohm's blog post, where there is now a civil discussion taking place on the subject.
But alas, a graceful ending was not to be. I've been informed that a certain NetApp employee has now moved to Twitter to assert that I have called NetApp a liar in my blog post.
So, in the interest of setting the record straight on this important point, let me make it clear: I have never referred to NetApp or its bloggers as liars, though I have said, and still believe, that some of their claims and arguments are illogical, both in regards to claims they make about themselves and claims they make about the competition.
If you check my previous blog post, you will see that the word 'liar' was used only once and that was by a NetApp blogger, in a moment of excessive sensitivity. But now another NetApp employee has picked it up and twittered about it. Ah! A new NetApp blogging tactic: One NetApp blogger exaggerates a competitor claim, then the other one attacks the competitor for it. Hmm....I must add that one to my list.
Now, here are just three examples of NetApp illogic that surfaced in the previous post:
- Using blog references to convince me that WAFL is not a file system (Kostadis, Geert, are you reading this?) when every NetApp white paper on the NetApp website, including one just published in July 2009, still refers to WAFL as a file system - http://media.netapp.com/documents/wp-7079.pdf. Logically, why would you insist your competitors accept your point when you haven't even convinced your own company?
- Telling me it is 'dangerous' for a competitor to even attempt to accurately performance test another vendor's array, when NetApp has actually gone to the extent of publishing two SPC benchmarks on EMC arrays. Okay, maybe 'illogical' is not the right word here - perhaps 'contradictory' would have been more precise. But then again, wouldn't you think it illogical to state an obvious contradiction in a public blog. I mean, the idea of a debate is to win the argument, not hand your competition a stick to beat you with. Note to NetApp bloggers: I am not threatening to beat NetApp employees with a stick.
- Claiming in their 21 page Wyman/Mercer cost-of-ownership white paper that after a thorough and meticulous analysis of EVA, CLARiiON, and DMX usable capacity, it was found that all those arrays used exactly the same amount of usable capacity for a 4TB database, down to the tenth of a terabyte (and by the way, the number NetApp came up with in its painstakingly precise calculation was 30.7TB for each, as opposed to their own 15.0TB for a FAS system.) If 'illogical' is not the right word here, which word would you prefer? Would you find 'ridiculous' less offensive?
But my point is: When your claims are illogical, it's illogical to take offense. Rather, reworking your arguments and getting back into the game is the best option. Also, I think everyone realizes that being illogical and lying are two entirely different things..
As far as blogging is concerned, I consider myself one of the least thin-skinned people you'll ever blog with. Any tendency towards hyper-sensitivity was beaten right out of me during six years in the Marines. When someone now tells me that 'my claims are illogical', I don't get personally worked up about it. In fact, I find myself marveling at their gracious language and self-restraint. Heck, I didn't even get angry when a NetApp blogger published one of my HP Confidential slides and called it 'nonsense' and 'dipstickery' (see this post).
So, here is my final piece of advice to my honorable NetApp colleagues: Lighten up, guys! Nobody in the blogging world minds a well phrased repartee now and again, but all this teeth-grinding is so Cold War. Within the industry, you're the only bloggers I know that carry on the way you do. Your company's doing well. Relax. Engage in the blogs if you feel so moved, but try to have a good time while you're doing it.
by Sean Fitzpatrick, StorageWorks Storage Platforms Business Development
Over the past few months, we've all witnessed positive milestones for FCoE...but...is it ready?
This past June the Fibre Channel Standards T11.3 BB-5 (back bone) working group finalized defining the spec (or ratified) and voted to forward it to INCITS for public review and eventually publication next year. Is the BB-5 spec good enough to develop product? Absolutely!
Also in June HP announced the availability of two ToR (top of rack) FCoE switches from Brocade and Cisco. Other companies have also announced future availability of FCoE products. This is positive move in the right direction for the industry and for customers looking to lower the TCO over time.
More resources and tools are available today from Brocade, Cisco, Emulex and QLogic to assist with evaluation and planning. HP's own SAN Design Guide provides great design ideas on how to build or modify existing SANs, including a dedicated application note on FCoE implementation guidelines.
As I've stated before, this stage is very important part of the early adopter Phase I to allow customers to evaluate the technology. The real adoption has yet to develop (phase II) and it will, once additional mature products become available. In the mean time IT managers should investigate adopting FCoE for small pilot projects and focusing on how it's going to improve their overall TCO.
From a timeline perspective 2009 is the year for proof of concept and planning. In 2010 I'm anticipating a wider breath of product availability from all the major suppliers.
HP's position is FCoE won't overtake traditional Fibre Channel next week, or even next year. But, now that FCoE is starting to move, it's getting exciting.