Apr 10, 2015

15th IT Press Tour and 5 years

The IT Press Tour (www.itpresstour.com), the media event started in June 2010, will celebrate it's 5 years during the 15th edition in California end of June. The core topic of this week is Software-Defined covered from a network, storage, management and big data perspective. 15 european reporters will participate to meet 11 hot companies, here is the list:
  • Big Switch Networks, a pioneer in SDN,
  • Catalogic Software, a Copy Data player with strong background in data protection,
  • CoreOS, an innovative software for massive deployment,
  • DDN Storage, the leader in HPC Storage,
  • Hedvig, new SDS apporach by the father of Amazon Dynamo and Apache Cassandra,
  • Jut, a new player in Big Data with radical new approach,
  • Micron, the giant manufacturer of Flash and NAND devices,
  • NexGen Storage, the alternative storage vendor dedicated to QoS based storage,
  • Nuage Networks, one of the references in the SDN segment,
  • Pure Storage, the future new storage giant,
  • and Rozo Systems, promoter of a Erasure-coded Scale-Out NAS for high demanding workload.
With this post, we'd like also to announce the launch of a sister event with same format but dedicated to "Business and IT Applications". This new event will happen the week of October 5th. The current IT Press Tour, let's say the classic one, will continue and will be officially marker as an "IT Infrastructure" event.
I invite you to follow the IT Press Tour via the #ITPT twitter hashtag, me with my twitter handle @CDP_FST and other reporters via their respective handles.

Apr 9, 2015

Apple made an other secret acquisition

Acunu (www.acunu.com), a big data analytics company, launched in 2009 got acquired recently by Apple. The cupertino firm like with FoundationDB didn't communicate any information about that but didn't invalidate the move. Acunu is a software vendor specialized in low-latency analytics based on all the recent stuff to manipulate data and provide value from massive volume of collected data. So NoSQL approach with Cassandra and Hadoop are 2 key components of Acunu portfolio. Like FoundationDB, Apple absorbs a technology sold to Enterprise for its own usage. According to Crunchbase, Acunu received $10.6M in 3 rounds. Last point, of course, Acunu web site is down.

Mar 30, 2015

Infinidat opens french operation

Infinidat (www.infinidat.com), alternative storage player for the enterprise, launched recently its french business entity. I already covered Infinidat a few times in January 2014 and June 2014 and I kept the info until it's now official. The team has 4 key members, all strong with real storage background: Laurent Caillé as Country Manager (strong EMC and IBM background), Philippe Dervin as sales executive (EMC and HP background), Jean-Baptiste Fuster as Solutions Architect Manager (LSI, HDS, EMC and CA background) and Jean Vaucouleur as Regional Technical Manager for South Europe (Exanet and Legato Systems background).
The sales strategy is pretty clear with target such MSP, finance, telco, retail and industry as products are really high-end, horizontal and generic. The idea is to deliver an high-end storage solution based on commodity stuff at a very economical way. Infinidat projects an aggressive TCO reduction, divided by 3 when you compare with other "classic" solutions from usual suspects. In general, the solution demonstrates a cost inferior of 1$ per GB. Two products are available: a block and file storage respectively InfiniBox and IZBox with different capacity range: F2000 model with 330TB raw with 3TB HDD and 480TB raw with 4TB HDD and F6000 model between 1.5 and 2PB. Infinidata has already a french customer who already deployed 1.5PB in replication mode. Remember a key member of this storage adventure, Moshe Yanai is behind the project and we know what he achieved in the past, his bright ideas and the success he had with the Symmetrix product family at EMC. Let's follow closely Infinidat in the next few months.

Mar 27, 2015

FoundationDB acquired by Apple

FoundationDB (www.foundationdb.com), one of the few gems in the NoSQL segment, just got acquired by Apple, we all read the news even if there is nothing listed on FoundationDB or Apple web site. Back a few months ago, we met FoundationDB founder, David Rosenthal, with the IT Press Tour group at Sutter Hill Ventures in June 2014 as we anticipated something big as the capabilities of the product are immense. And guess what, we're not the only one who watched and paid attention to that technology very closely. The interesting point is not the product, very good indeed, but the fact that a vendor of a product in a B2B mode is now a product for only one user, even big in that case Apple, and will become an internal solution. Three things for Apple:
  1. the FoundationDB technology is so disruptive and represents a huge business advantage that Apple decided to acquire the product for its own usage,
  2. the product is so good that Apple doesn't want anyone to use it instead of them or at the same time in a concurrent way (download menu is removed from the FoundationDB web site) and
  3. finally iTunes, iCloud and other projects must operate and run with modern technologies that support and enable new scaling model.

With this acquisition, Apple made a great decision that will illustrate again the famous Build, Buy or Partner approach. Too late and too long to build and probably not with the right expert team within Apple, Buy a product is not enough as a customer, other could benefit from it as well, so they buy the company and stop the commercial product and finally Partner is not the right model here as, like the 2 others modes, the product would have been available for other companies as well.
I'm pretty sure all of you remember a few years ago what Nicholas Carr wrote about "IT doesn't matter". It's true when all players adopt the same product, no more difference or advantage is created, and false when the product is unique because controlled by one company. Apple understood that. Very good catch.

Mar 6, 2015

HGST swallows Amplidata

Amplidata (www.amplidata.com), one of the few european object storage vendors, is acquired by HGST (www.hgst.com), fully owned by WDC.
Is it a surprise or not ?
In fact not if we consider multiple elements: market success, CEO identity, funding campaign and investor profile. In term of market success, Amplidata recognized for its solution was a bit confidential with almost the same list of customers for several years even with the recent success with Verizon and the Himalaya pure software flavor. As a pure player of object storage, Amplidata refused to address directly other segments such as NAS as some other tried to do. The company stayed active in a small market. The reality is a bit ambiguous with almost 20 object storage players addressing different use cases and they don't finally really compete against each other. The other key point is object storage as a technology was defined and designed for large storage project but do we have many of them, not sure as companies can do and solve their problem with different methods. The second point is about the CEO Mike Wall who arrived in the company at board level in November 2011 to sell it as he did for Atempo. Mike Wall was named CEO in September 2012. Finally he did it so if his mission was that, he succeeds. I mentioned in the past that the Intel investment could have morphed in a acquisition but the next investor HGST was faster. In fact, HGST injected 10M$ in September 2014, it was not a classic round and many observer anticipated the acquisition. With HGST strategy with SMR, archive drives and the wish to penetrate the active archive market, the investment is clearly a good one. WDC with HGST also tried to mimic Seagate strategy sometimes in advance or trying to fill the gap. I anticipate that the exit is relatively good with a factor of no more choice or alternatives for Amplidata. I mentioned this for many years but I'm convinced that the first acquisition in the object storage will trigger others. Now let's see but I won't be surprise, there is just one less player but also on less buyer. I let you imagine what could happen...

Mar 4, 2015

SanDisk shakes the Flash palm

SanDisk (www.sandisk.com | NASD:SNDK), one of the Flash leader, made yesterday a strategic announcement with a new offering named InfiniFlash. With this product, SanDisk enters in the very hot and competitive segment of All-Flash Array aka AFA with several other hot companies such Pure Storage, SolidFire, Violin Memory, Tegile, Nimble Storage... among others, of course I don't mention here AFA offering from not pure players. A few weeks after the spin-out of IoControl business in fact the historical NexGen Storage company and probably with a good understanding of all good points from NexGen and Fusion-io, SanDisk made this surprising announcement. But was it really a surprise ? let me put things in perspective:
  • SanDisk recruited Sumit Sadana in April 2010 to lead Business Development and be the Chief Strategy Officer. This recruitment was a clear indicator of a need for a new blood for new directions.
  • 1st acquisition under Sadana's reign was Pliant Technology for 327M$ in May 2011,
  • the 2nd was FlashSoft, the caching software company, in February 2012,
  • the 3rd was Schooner Information Technology, an expert in MySQL performance, in June 2012, this is today ZetaScale,
  • the 4th was Smart Storage Systems in August 2013,
  • and the 5th was Fusion-io for 1.1B$ in July 2014. NexGen was acquired by Fusion-io at the beginning of 2013 for approximately 120M$ and Fusion-io also acquired ioTurbine for 95M$ in August 2011. ioTurbine became ION at Fusion-io.
  • In parallel, Sumit Sadana launched SanDisk Ventures and invested in several companies such Whiptail, Panzura, Tegile, Nexenta and Stratoscale.
All these elements demonstrate the clear strategy of SanDisk, easy to say after facts, but in fact crystal clear, build its own Flash array.
Back to InfiniFash. This product is different as Eric Burgener, Research Director at IDC, named the category "Big Data Flash" with its introduction to the market. InfiniFlash is a 3U chassis with massive capacity, the maximum size is 512TB. Wow impressive in a so reduced space. Even Skyera, now HGST, subsidiary of WDC, didn't make such dense array. 3 models exist: IF100, IF500 and IF700. IF100 is dedicated for integration with APIs for customer and oems, IF500 targets a mixed block and object powered by Ceph and IF700 for DB performance in block mode powered by ION software. The array integrates 64 x 8TB cards for that total of 512TB raw for less than 2$ per GB without any data reduction techniques such compression or deduplication. Up to 8 hosts can be connected to the chassis in a block mode. The product can deliver more than 780k IOPS, a Throughput superior of 7GB/s and a latency less than 1ms. SanDisk makes great utilization of various technology acquired in the past such ION from Fusion-io, FlashSoft for caching and ZetaScale from Schooner, see my rapid list of acquisition above. The key messages around InfiniFlash are: 5x density, 50x performance with 80% less power in comparison with HDD arrays.
Again, the product is impressive at least on the spec side, let's wait some return of experience but clearly it shakes the Flash array segment. We expect some reaction from competition to that announcement before the summer...

Feb 5, 2015

Qumulo entered in a new dimension

Qumulo (www.qumulo.com), a storage company launched by former Isiloners, has just announced a round fo 40M$ from KPCB, Highland Capital, Madrona Venture Group and Valhalla Partners. With this B round, the total reaches now 67M$. At the same time, Sujal Patel, one of the legend behind Isilon, also joined the board. We expect Qumulo to really shake the storage market with an advanced data-centric storage solution leveraging an unique proven expertise in scale-out NAS. As a few companies already started to integrate and take advantage of Flash storage, Qumulo took a very innovative file system approach especially for the meta-data part. Again, 10 millions files could be seen as a huge number and some classic approach could be considered good enough but for 10 or 100 billions of files, a new design is a Must and Qumulo is about to change that growing storage segment. Remember, Isilon is still the reference in Scale-Out NAS invented at the beginning of the century and some of the team members already demonstrated his knowledge and capabilities in scale-out DB with Clustrix. These people are experts. Wow! what a good news for the industry. Congrats to Peter and his team.

Jan 30, 2015

SolarWinds acquired Librato

Librato (www.librato.com), the company driven by Fred van den Bosch, former CTO of VERITAS Software, has joined SolarWinds after almost 4 years of development and market evangelism with Metrics and Silverline. During this period Librato has demonstrated the flexibility of the hosted monitoring platform able to sustain very high data stream loads coming from a huge number of cloud-based applications, perfect for AWS or Heroku. Since the inception, Librato raised 5.1M$ in 2 rounds from 3 investors. SolarWinds made the right choice with Librato, its strong and robust monitoring platform will join the application performance management portfolio especially for demanding AWS and Heroku based applications. We met 2 times Librato with the IT Press Tour in June 2011 and December 2013 as we understood the power of developed platform built by a small very talented team. Congrats Fred.

Jan 29, 2015

Sinequa hires Fabrice de Salaberry

Sinequa (www.sinequa.com), French ISV on search engines, just announced the recruitment of Fabrice de Salaberry as COO. Fabrice is a well know and respected leader in the industry with experience at Quadratec then Atempo and more recently at Active Circle with a successful exit with Oodrive. Fabrice's international experience will boost Sinequa's overseas business. Congratulations for Sinequa and Fabrice.

Jan 27, 2015

Hitachi expands its end-to-end content strategy

Hitachi Data Systems (www.hds.com), the Japanese storage giant, recently announced a refresh of the Hitachi Content Platform with several interesting new features or enhancements.

As a historical extension to Archivas acquired for approx. 100-120M$ in 2007, Hitachi is serious about content storage and this announce solidifies HDS strategy in that domain. HCP is already strong in archiving mode with WORM, data destruction and digital signatures capabilities, but very often only considered for tier 2 and even more storage needs. In term of market adoption, Hubert Yoshida, CTO of HDS, recently mentioned an interesting number in his January 2015 blog: HDS has 1000+ HCP deployments representing a total of 215+PB. It's impressive in term of capacity and number of installations but on average it is just 215TB per instance.

HCP line comprises now 4 elements:
  • HDI or Hitachi Data Ingestor is the cloud storage gateway acting as a remote/branch file access appliance. HDS understands the strategic role of such component in an infrastructure as object storage provides easy remote data access via http but can't offer any file access based on standard file sharing protocols.
  • HCPA or HCP Anywhere is the Sync-n-Share companion.
  • HCP S10 is a brand new element in the architecture providing an on-premise capacity tier with erasure coding data protection mode. Physically S10 is an HW appliance with 60 4TB drives coupled with 6 cores CPUs in a 4U chassis. 80 nodes can be configured together to provide 18PB. This low cost tier is connected to HCP via S3 API controlled by the HCP adaptive cloud tiering capability. This engine supports already Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, Google, Cloud Storage, Verizon Cloud or Hitachi Cloud Service for Content Archiving.
  • HCP supports the OpenStack Swift API and Keystone and is integrated with Horizon and could be used for Glance image service as well. This represents a new extension in API support and today HCP has a wide support of industry, standard and de-facto APIs.
2015 will be very, very interesting in object storage, follow my various comments and posts in next few weeks...