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Storage news - 2006, June week 4

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Storage Drive Innovations Blossom from Proprietary Shoots
by by Zsolt Kerekes, editor -

If you've been in the computer market for a long time you'll have noticed a certain "sameness" in the products and features offered by different manufacturers.

PCs and servers from different companies use pretty much the same processors as 10 years ago (Intel compatible or Unix RISC dinosaur). Only difference - the clock rates have gone up a bit, and you now get multiple processors in one chip package.

Operating systems offer a smaller range of diversity than 10 years ago. The basic choice is still between "Windows something" from Microsoft and some flavor of Unix.

PCs, servers and laptops in the same price range offer similar performance and features from different suppliers. If you didn't look at the designer label on your new box - you would rarely know, or care, who made it (or who badge engineered it).

With a few honorable exceptions in the consumer market such as Apple's iPod, where ease of use and appearance are rated highly enough to break the mould (and command a higher price) - most IT products seem to be bland and interchangeable. Standardization is behind this, and it's a good thing, because it leads to more competitive markets and lower prices (for the same narrow set of functions).

Proprietary has become a dirty word in the IT market.

The "P word" is not quite as rude as the "F word" but you rarely hear companies raving about their proprietary credentials. "Open Systems" sound so much cleaner and nicer. But let's not forget that ALL innovation starts out as someone's unique original proprietary idea or technology.

Marketing programs such as licensing and standards consortiums often convert the raw proprietary technology into a more widely adopted "standard". But if it wasn't for the lure of profit and advantage offered by new proprietary products - the industry would stifle under the weight of ever faster but obsolete technology - solving the problems deemed important by earlier generations of techies who are now reaching retirement / the upper levels of corporate management / (the same thing).

The storage market is an area where standards have always been very important. Storage manufacturers have to fit in with an ecosystem which is largely dictated by PC and server companies. Complying with standards guarantees a bigger base of compatible slots which the storage can be sold into, and hence a bigger market.

But in the past month we've been seeing some important changes to this idea. A whole bunch of manufacturers have introduced storage drives with proprietary features which offer added value benefits to the systems which use them. Here are just a few of the examples.
  • Seagate launched a hard drive with built-in encryption, and Addonics launched a low cost enclosure which will add encryption to any manufacturer's 2.5" hard drive.
  • SiliconSystems launched a solid state disk which includes security zoning (which controls access rights to different segments of the disk) in addition to a range of conventional disk sanitization options - which have been around in some form or other in the SSD industry for several years now - but haven't migrated yet to hard drives.
Other innovative drives which have come to my attention in the past year include:-
  • ProStor Systems' RDX removable disk which uses a new patent-pending error correcting format, which makes the data 1,000 times more recoverable than in a standard hard drive.
  • Plasmon's Compliant write once UDO optical media. Using a special "shred" operation, targeted data sectors can be physically destroyed. Unlike the erase pass on magnetic disks, the shred operation on phase change media leaves no residual traces of previously written data.
  • Adtron's diskpak, which has 2 RAID mirrored IDE hard drives in a standard 3.5" form factor aimed at embedded high reliability applications.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the underlying themes in the examples I've mentioned above are security and reliability. In an article last year I predicted that these would be 2 of the 3 main driving forces affecting storage during the next handful of years.

So next time someone mentions the "P word" in a product pitch don't dismiss what follows until you hear what's actually being said. It could be the new solution to your new storage problems.
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Marketers in the enterprise flash array market like to believe that when they introduce new features into successive product generations these will be regarded as having some value by potential customers. But that's not always true.
Decloaking hidden SSD segments in the enterprise

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Wanna Buy a Tape Company? - How about Exabyte?

BOULDER, Colo. - June 30, 2006 - Exabyte Corp today announced that it has retained St. Charles Capital LLC, a Denver-based investment banking firm, to assist it in reviewing strategic business alternatives, including the merger or sale of the Company.

The engagement is currently in process; however, the Company does not have a definitive timeline for its completion. ...Exabyte profile, acquired storage companies

Editor's comments:- there are too many tape backup companies given the stagnant growth in that market in recent years and the fact that disk backup, online backup and optical have been replacing tape in most new customer environments. As part of that long term trend trend Quantum acquired ADIC in May, and Crossroads Systems acquired Tape Labs in April.

SSDs - Beyond the Battlefield

Editor:- June 30, 2006 - BiTMICRO Networks has published a new article called - "Beyond the Battlefield" - which discusses the promise of flash solid state disks in the consumer market.

Many of the technologies we take for granted today (such as the internet and portable computers) started out in the military market. the article

I've also noticed that BiTMICRO has some kind of cartoon animal on its home page. When I'm sure what it is - I'll add it to my Animal Brands in Storage article.

...Later:- I've been informed by Joanne de Peralta at BiTMICRO (who wrote the new SSD article) - that the animal is a tarsier ... one of the smallest primates in the world with the largest eyes.

See also:-'s SSD Market Adoption Model and Microsoft's article - Windows ReadyDrive and Hybrid Hard Disk Drives (doc) which describes Windows Vista support for flash storage integrated within a hard disk drive.

See also:- hybrid SSDs, notebook SSDs

Qimonda Delivers Industry's First DDR3

Munich, Germany - June 30, 2006 - Qimonda AG today announced that it has supplied the industry's first DDR3 SO-DIMM samples to 3D graphics chip maker ATI.

DDR3 (Double Data Rate 3 Small Outline Dual In-line Memory Module) will become the next standard of high-speed, low-power memory components and modules used in server systems, desktops and notebook computers. The first notebook PCs equipped with Qimonda DDR3 SO-DIMM memory technology are expected to be available next year.

"Qimonda's DDR3 memory module is the first SO-DIMM module operating on just 1.5 volts targeting a work day equivalent of battery time, " said Thomas Seifert, member of the management board of Qimonda. ...ATI, ...Qimonda profile, RAM

Learn How to Trust Your Storage Drives

Editor:- June 29, 2006 - a new article is published today on STORAGEsearch, written by the Trusted Computing Group, it's called - "Adding Trust to Storage Drives".

How much can you trust the security of data on your storage drives? Snugly nestling in a RAID system in your datacenter - maybe. Now what about when those self same drives are in some one else's mitts - because they've been replaced, sold or stolen?

The Trusted Computing Group has been working with storage manufacturers and other industry trade bodies to create a standard model and framework for extending security into the storage drive - using extensions of the SCSI and ATA command sets - and by extending the features originally designed for internal error logging. Although at an early stage, readers may be interested in reading and commenting (to TCG) on the draft document - which is published here as part of their market liaison exercise.

Many of the storage security features described in the article have been available in solid state disks for years, implemented in proprietary ways. But standardization could extend these benefits to lower cost, more widely available magnetic and optical devices. the article, ...Trusted Computing Group profile, Storage articles, Storage Security

Zetera Announces New Director of Product Marketing

IRVINE, Calif. - June 27, 2006 - Zetera Corp today announced that Omar Barraza has joined Zetera as director of product marketing.

Barraza specializes in storage solutions for small to large businesses and has defined and launched successful products with a variety of OEM partners. Prior to Zetera, Barraza held management and marketing positions with QLogic, Dot Hill, MicroNet Technology and Procom Technology. He is also the coauthor of a book about marketing best practices. ...Zetera profile, Storage People

Mellanox Chips Inside 3 of the Top 10 Fastest Computers

Dresden, Germany - June 28, 2006 - Mellanox Technologies Ltd today announced that InfiniBand continues to be the fastest growing cluster interconnect, according to the 27th edition of the TOP500 list of the world's most powerful computers.

Sixteen new InfiniBand based supercomputers have registered in the June 2006 list while three of the top ten most prominent ranking positions use InfiniBand interconnect - all based on Mellanox silicon solutions.

Published twice a year, the Top500 list ranks the most powerful computer systems according to the Linpack benchmark rating system.

The three most powerful supercomputers using industry-standard InfiniBand interconnect are the only entries in the top 10 that use commercially available components - the rest are built on proprietary technologies The average efficiency of all reported InfiniBand-based supercomputers is 72% - far superior to the average efficiency of Gigabit Ethernet connected clusters at 53%. ...Mellanox Technologies profile, Storage Events

VC Firm Selects Atempo LiveServ for Exchange

PALO ALTO, Calif. - June 27, 2006 - Atempo, Inc. today announced that Walden International has chosen Atempo LiveServ for Exchange to provide granular backup and recovery of the company's critical email data.

Walden is a global venture capital firm, focusing on the communications, electronics, software and IT services, and semiconductor industries. Dependent on email as their primary messaging system, Walden employees store valuable contacts, client communications, meetings and attachments in their mailboxes.

Prior to LiveServ, data loss of mailbox items forced Walden employees to wait an average of 4 to 6 hours while the IT staff restored these individual items from tape. This lengthy downtime for data recovery proved unacceptable. The switch to Atempo LiveServ makes mailbox-level recoveries fast and simple.

Walden International runs two LiveServ servers, one in San Francisco and one in Singapore. The company retains Exchange data at the message and database levels for three months before aging that data off to tape. The most common data recovery requests come from employees who have accidentally deleted emails, contacts or calendar items from their inboxes. ...Atempo profile, Venture Capital in Storage, Backup Software

Editor's comments:- within the storage market Walden has invested in Calimetrics and Mellanox

Cutting Edge Founds New Company to Market iSCSI OS

El Cajon, California - June 27, 2006 - Cutting Edge Inc. announced today the establishment of a newly created company ANStor64.

The new company, named after the ANStor64 Area Network Storage appliance software, will sell the pre-configured 64-bit capable software as a disk-on-module device that plugs into an IDE port on any Intel architecture server to automatically turn it into a NAS, iSCSI (both target and initiator), or combination appliance and can also be used as a diskless NAS head for SAN applications. Long time industry veteran Gary Goodman has been named Vice President and General Manager. Mr. Goodman recently handled all of North America sales for Open-E and western regional sales for Wasabi Systems.

The ANStor64 OS software will be available to the channel by the end of June. The list price of the software for the AMD Opteron 64-bit, Intel Xeon 64-bit, or Intel 32-bit platforms is expected to be $1,200 for the NAS version and $750 for the iSCSI version. A third version, which allows the same server to act both as a NAS appliance and an iSCSI array is expected to list for $1,500. ...ANStor64 profile, ...Cutting Edge profile, Storage VARs

Samsung Doubles Capacity and Speed of Flash Memory

SEOUL, South Korea - June 27, 2006 - Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. announced today that it has successfully developed a faster and higher capacity version of its flash memory using 60nm chip technology.

The new 2Gb OneNAND chip doubles the capacity of a OneNAND memory device (from 1Gb) and increases the chip's 'write' speed from 9.3MBytes to 17MBytes per second. The chips can be interleaved to attain an even higher capacity, while allowing each chip to independently interact with the system. For example, the 'OneNAND chip's write' capacity can be increased up to 136MByte per second when 8 of the 2Gb memory chips are combined. Because of its exceptionally high performance, OneNAND can serve as a catalyst in the development of new solid state product markets. ...Samsung profile, Flash Storage, storage chips

SNIA Europe Launches Storage Networking Times

Editor:- June 27, 2006 - a new article called "The Business Case for IP Storage" was published today - written by Aad Dekkers, IPSI Chair, SNIA Europe.

It appears in a new quarterly publication called Storage Networking Times launched today by SNIA Europe.

See also:- online storage magazines, Storage Industry Trade Associations, iSCSI

QLogic Supports Open Fabrics Software Stack

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. - June 26, 2006 - QLogic Corp. today announced that its InfiniPath InfiniBand Interconnect will support the newly released OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution for Linux-based data center fabrics.

OFED 1.0 is the first enterprise version of the open source software stack, providing users with a standardized, fully tested and robust tool to develop RDMA-capable datacenter fabrics. QLogic's InfiniPath supports more than 10 million messages per second and supports both PCI-Express and HyperTransport HTX interfaces for connecting into an AMD or Intel-based server platform. ...QLogic profile, InfiniBand

NetApp Sells Content Delivery Business

Sunnyvale, CA - June 23, 2006 - Network Appliance, Inc. today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its NetCache business to Blue Coat Systems.

NetApp considers the transaction to be immaterial to expectations for its business going forward. The transaction is expected to close within 90 days. Afterwards NetApp NetCache employees will either be offered positions at Blue Coat Systems or will be deployed on other development programs or in new roles within NetApp. ...Blue Coat Systems, ...Network Appliance profile, Network Attached Storage

Editor's comments:- more often NetApp is buying rather than selling companies / technology assets, like these examples:- Alacritus Software, Auspex Systems (patents), Decru, Spinnaker Networks, WebManage Technologies.

Toshiba Buying Into Next Generation DVD Market

El Segundo, Calif. - June 23, 2006 - Is Toshiba Corp. hoping to buy a head start in the battle for the next generation of DVD technology?

The answer is yes, according to the market research firm iSuppli Corp., which recently dissected Toshiba's new HD-A1 HD-DVD player and priced all of its components. According to iSuppli's teardown analysis, Bill-of-Materials costs alone for the HD-A1 exceed its $499 U.S. retail price. The HD-A1's estimated $674 BOM figure excludes costs for manufacturing, testing, cables, remote control and packaging. Those additional costs could easily push the total cost of the HD-A1 to more than $700 per unit.

The finding suggests that Toshiba is subsidizing the HD-A1 in an attempt to gain early market share over players that use the rival Blu-ray high-definition DVD standard. Initial Blu-ray players are scheduled for launch this summer with retail prices starting at $999.

"It's unusual to find this level of subsidization outside of the video-game console and mobile-phone markets," explained Chris Crotty, senior analyst, consumer electronics at iSuppli. "Presumably, Toshiba anticipates making back any initial HD-A1 losses with subsequent products."

What's at stake is leadership in the market for next-generation, high-definition DVD equipment. Next-generation equipment is one of the few remaining growth segments in an otherwise peaking DVD market, which is facing increasing competition from alternative content-delivery mechanisms, including video-on-demand, Internet downloading and even Disney's resurrected MovieBeam service.

iSuppli forecasts that factory shipments of all next generation DVD equipment - both HD-DVD and Blu-ray - will soar to 65 million units in 2010, up from 1.6 million units in 2006. But unlike other industry experts, iSuppli's Crotty doesn't foresee a clear winner in the battle between HD-DVD and Blu-ray.

"This is not a repeat of VHS vs. Beta," Crotty said. "The market dynamics are very different. The most likely outcome is stalemate, with the savvy manufacturers introducing dual-format players as early as the 2006 holiday season." ...iSuppli profile, ...Toshiba profile, DVD, Blu-ray and Holographic drives

Qimonda's Memory Saves Costs in Sun Servers

last week's news (archive)
San Jose - June 22, 2006 - Qimonda AG today announced that comparative tests of memory modules and analysis of actual data center energy costs show that the low power consumption of its standard DRAM can save thousands of dollars in the annual energy costs of data centers.

Spiraling energy costs are becoming a serious issue in data centers, which are installations of hundreds or even thousands of servers and associated equipment used by Web services companies and operating computer networks of large organizations. Qimonda and Sun are working closely together to provide low power products and set industry benchmarks for power saving performance in server applications.

Reduction in power saves energy costs in two ways, directly by reducing the energy used by the server and indirectly by reducing heat that must be managed by cooling systems. Tests showed up to a 30% reduction in memory power consumption when combining Qimonda's power efficient DDR2 Dual In-line Memory Modules with Sun's new servers such as the Sun Fire T2000 server.

Based on an analysis of costs to power a typical data center described at a recent industry conference, memory modules from Qimonda can save up to $70,000 per year in energy costs. At the same conference, industry experts forecast that by 2008 computer memory subsystems will represent up to one-half of the power used in computer servers. ...Qimonda profile, SPARC Product Directory, RAM

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