Storage array vendors vs. the cloud

New kids on the blocks


Storage array vendors have a problem with their customers storing data in the cloud. They already sell to these customers but cloud service providers are cannier buyers typically and may favour cheaper and cloud-specific kit from other suppliers. What should storage array vendors do?

Their value is not in the disk drive shelves but in the software in the storage controller. Cloud storage-using customers may not want storage arrays but they will probably want a cloud storage gateway. That box, or software running in a virtual machine, can look like a SAN array or NAS box to accessing applications in servers. In other words it contains a lot of the code stack from a storage array controller.

This suggest possibilities to storage array vendors. Why not decouple the storage array controller from the storage array and use it as the basis for a cloud storage gateway? The other elements of a cloud storage service are not rocket science. They are technologies to cut the number of bits travelling up and down the wire to the remote storage resource and to secure the transmission against wire-watching spies.

They include block-level reduplication and compression, which most storage array vendors have or can get. Talk to Permabit for Albireo reduplication, and to Exar for compression hardware. Encryption hardware or software is also readily available. Next we come to more specialised technology; WAN optimisation.

This will best be supplied by licensing or buying a WAN optimisation company such as Silver Peak or Ipanema. Alternatively, the storage array vendor could build their own technology, although this will take time.

But are the traditional vendors already too late to the cloud storage party? Several startups and Riverbed, an aggressive WAN optimiser, are building cloud storage gateways already.

Riverbed has its Whitewater appliance, which has been well-received since its announcement, and startups such as BridgeSTOR, Cirtas, STORsimple, and Nasuni, are all in the cloud storage gateway space.

If the storage array vendors fail to establish cloud storage gateway offerings soon could be locked out. They could have a conversion with customers like this imagined one in the future between an IBM rep and a customer:

Storm clouds ahead

IBM rep: "I understand that you are considering moving more of your in-premises unstructured data to the cloud so that you can be a Smarter Business. Would you be interested in a better, more efficient way of accessing your data once it is in the cloud?"

Customer: "Yes, that would be of interest; we're always keen to improve our operations effectiveness."

IBM rep: "Our cSVC, Cloud SAN Volume Controller, provides access to your cloud storage exactly as it if were a storage area network (SAN) in your data centre. That means absolutely no change to your existing application storage access routines, polices, procedures and security considerations. In fact, it is more secure as everything is encrypted."

Customer: "Ah yes, I see. Um, let me show you our Whitewater appliances from Riverbed in the small data centre we have left. They do everything your, er, cSVC was it, does and more."

Exit chastened IBM, or EMC or NetApp or Dell/Compellent or whoever storage array vendor rep realising they are too late to join this particular storage party.

Where is your storage value, Mr. storage array supplier, and where should it be deployed? ®

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • IBM AI boat to commemorate historic US Mayflower voyage finally lands… in Canada
    Nearly two years late and in the wrong country, we welcome our robot overlords

    IBM's self-sailing Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) has finally crossed the Atlantic albeit more than a year and a half later than planned. Still, congratulations to the team.

    That said, MAS missed its target. Instead of arriving in Massachusetts – the US state home to Plymouth Rock where the 17th-century Mayflower landed – the latest in a long list of technical difficulties forced MAS to limp to Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada. The 2,700-mile (4,400km) journey from Plymouth, UK, came to an end on Sunday.

    The 50ft (15m) trimaran is powered by solar energy, with diesel backup, and said to be able to reach a speed of 10 knots (18.5km/h or 11.5mph) using electric motors. This computer-controlled ship is steered by software that takes data in real time from six cameras and 50 sensors. This application was trained using IBM's PowerAI Vision technology and Power servers, we're told.

    Continue reading
  • IBM buys Randori to address multicloud security messes
    Big Blue joins the hot market for infosec investment

    RSA Conference IBM has expanded its extensive cybersecurity portfolio by acquiring Randori – a four-year-old startup that specializes in helping enterprises manage their attack surface by identifying and prioritizing their external-facing on-premises and cloud assets.

    Big Blue announced the Randori buy on the first day of the 2022 RSA Conference on Monday. Its plan is to give the computing behemoth's customers a tool to manage their security posture by looking at their infrastructure from a threat actor's point-of-view – a position IBM hopes will allow users to identify unseen weaknesses.

    IBM intends to integrate Randori's software with its QRadar extended detection and response (XDR) capabilities to provide real-time attack surface insights for tasks including threat hunting and incident response. That approach will reduce the quantity of manual work needed for monitoring new applications and to quickly address emerging threats, according to IBM.

    Continue reading
  • Compute responsibly: Yet another IT industry sustainability drive
    From greener datacenters to data transparency and 'conscious code', IBM, Dell, others push for better IT ops

    IBM and Dell are the founding members of a new initiative to promote sustainable development in IT by providing a framework of responsible corporate policies for organizations to follow.

    Responsible Computing is described as a membership consortium for technology organizations that aims to get members to sign up to responsible values in key areas relating to infrastructure, code development, and social impact. The program is also operating under the oversight of the Object Management Group.

    According to Object Management Group CEO Bill Hoffman, also the CEO of Responsible Computing, the new initiative aims to "shift thinking and, ultimately behavior" within the IT industry and therefore "bring about real change", based around a manifesto that lays out six domains the program has identified for responsible computing.

    Continue reading
  • IBM ordered to pay $1.6b to BMC
    Big Blue's 'routine eschewal of rules' justifies large penalty, judge says

    IBM has been ordered to pay Houston-based IT firm BMC $1.6 billion for fraud and contract violations because it moved mutual client AT&T from BMC software to IBM software.

    On Monday, US District Judge Gray Miller issued his final judgment [PDF] in the case, which began five years ago and culminated in a bench trial in March.

    For years, IBM had serviced AT&T's mainframe computers which at least since 2007 have relied on BMC software. IBM and BMC in 2008 entered into a contract governing the business relationship between the two companies. And in 2015, the two IT outfits agreed several amendments including an Outsourcing Attachment (OA) that disallowed IBM from moving mutual clients over to its own software.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022