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The Hottest Panels of this Fall!
It’s probably a good idea to state I wrote this blog while employed by Amplidata

It’s probably a good idea to state I wrote this blog while employed by Amplidata, but during my own time. This article reflects my own opinion, not necessarily that of Amplidata or its partners.

As I am writing this,  I am crossing the Atlantic for the seventh time in about two months. I’m on my way to CloudExpo West in Santa Clara, one of the few technology trade shows that are still growing. At the event I will be sitting on the last Object Storage for Big Data panel of the season. Robin Harris – aka StorageMojo – and I have been working hard this fall educating the industry on the benefits, challenges and opportunities of Object Storage. We’ve been trying to explain how the current generation of Object Storage platforms is so much different from the first attempt at it (EMC’s Centera), how it enables companies cope with the massive amounts of unstructured data that we are all generating and how companies can even monetize archived data by re-activating their archives.

Unlike StorageMojo and some other people who I have been working with lately, I don’t have decades of experience in the storage industry. However, being located in Belgium, I’ve had the privilege of working with people who used to be  part of the Filepool team (and spent years at EMC after the acquisition). Those were the earliest object storage days, I had no idea of what was coming. Later, at Sun, I learned a lot about Object Storage when we were working on the Sun Cloud project. The architecture (ZFS) was different of what we are seeing on the market today, but the concept was – as was often the case at Sun – promising. This article is not another take at describing Object Storage and the benefits it brings, it’s more an overview of what we have learned at the past four Object Storage for Big Data panels. The setup for each of the panels was mostly the same: Robin Harris would challenge between 4 and 6 Object Storage specialists (technology vendors or users) and try to have the audience participate with. We did expect the topics of the panels to be different as we were hosted by trade shows with different audiences, but we never expected the discussions to vary as much as they did.

The common thread for each panel was the challenge companies have to store different types of Big Data and more particularly Big Unstructured Data. The latter represents up to 90% of the digital data that we will be generating over the next decades and will put traditional storage technologies under heavy stress as they are hitting their scalability limits. Unstructured data is currently mostly stored in file system based storage infrastructures. File systems will not only be unable to scale as required – try setting up a file structure for 5 petabytes of data – but they will also become obsolete as applications can provide a lot more features to keep your unstructured data organized (structured?), to analyze that information and potentially monetize what is today stored in (dead) tape archives. Rich applications that talk directly to a large and (infinitely) scalable storage pool make a lot more sense than maintenance-intensive files systems. Also, properly designed Object Storage (with erasure coding technology instead of RAID to protect the data) requires a lot less overhead, consumes a lot less power, can easily be implemented over multiple sites and does not require migration to new systems when a system cannot be further scaled. So what else did we discuss at the panels?

The first panel after summer was at Intel’s IDF in San Francisco. Panel members came from Intel and Quanta, who with Amplidata built an Object Storage reference architecture. We also had Michelle Munson of Aspera, who presented a couple of perfect use cases of Object Storage in the media and entertainment industry. Aspera developed a very smart way to transfer large amounts of data over the WAN in a much more efficient way than how it is currently done. Aspera’s bandwidth optimization software practically enables this new generation of Object Storage by taking away the latency issue, e.g. to stream high res movies over a long distance. Once we had explained the drivers for Object Storage, the opportunities and best practices, most of the discussion (questions from the audience) was about why RAID is not the right technology to architect an Object Storage platform with. We discussed the benefits of erasure coding in much detail and spent a lot of time on the differences with RAID. In short: in Erasure Coding based systems, all disks are equal (all parity) and there is no need to rebuild a disk when broken: when codes are lost due to bit errors or hardware failures, new codes can be generated spread over the whole pool, not just one system. A recent and very good independent deepdive in the Amplidata erasure coding technology can be found here.

A lot less RAID and erasure coding at the Createasphere DAM Show in New York a few weeks later. The show focusses on Digital Asset Management and the attendees are more interested in the applications and content than the actual data. That did not make the discussion any less interesting. From Sarah Berndt of Johnson Space Center we learned a *lot* about the importance of metadata, an issue that would be discussed at SNW Europe as well (see further). Interesting newcomer on the panel was Dalet, a DAM vendor who integrate with many Object Storage platforms and see a clear benefit of having their platform interface with a scale-out storage pool directly (REST) rather than through an additional file system. Dalet is the perfect valet in my car analogy that is becoming more and more popular: a file system is like a public parking lot where you have to go find your car yourself (this once took me a few hours in Paris’ CDG airport). Object storage is much more like valet parking, where you get a ticket when you leave your car and use that ticket to get it back later. The application, Dalet, is the valet.

At SNWUSA in Santa Clara in October we had David Chapa of Quantum on board for the firs time. David is an authority to explain the use cases where tape is the better alternative and when it is better to use Object Storage, or Wide Area Storage (WAS) as Quantum calls it. WAS is Quantum’s attempt to take away the confusion caused by the name Object Storage, a term first used by EMC almost a decade ago. I think it’s a good idea of Quantum to try to introduce a new term, I’m not sure WAS is the best choice though. Maybe something new will come up next month at Greg Duplessie’s Object Storage summit, although I doubt it. Once we kind of agreed that this generation of Object Storage, or whatever it will be called later, has very little or nothing to do with EMC’s product line that was most famous for locking-in customers, the conversation took a very sudden change. In an attempt to spice up the discussion, Ranajit Nevatia of Panzura claimed Object Storage provides very bad performance. This was very much true for the first generation of Object Storage platforms we just discussed and might be true of the platforms they currently promote (including Atmos, EMC’s second attempt at Object Storage), but not at all for the technologies that are most successful on the market today. Scality have been promoting their high IOPS (smaller files, IO intensive workloads). Amplidata  focus more on large file storage, which is IMO the more obviouse use case for Object Storage, but I may be biassed. In a recent independent test, Amplidata demonstrated throughout numbers that can only be called “extremely high-performant”. Howard Marks confirmed Amplidata provides 1 GB/s of throughput with a single controller. But it gets better: Amplidatas scale throughput linearly by adding more controllers. So a system with 6 controllers provides 6 GB/s of throughput.

Last week’s panel at SNW Europe, which is traditionally well attended by press and analysts, was again very interactive. Robin Harris set the stage explaining how this generation of Object Storage is different from earlier products. This led to a lengthy discussion about API’s, a call for one standard API (I say let’s just all standardize on Amazon) and complaints about lock-ins by … yes, EMC. Vendors be warned, that trick is getting old and is not getting any respect. The audience included some of the better analysts and bloggers, including the451′s Simon Robinson and Storagebod. The latter, known for being a critic of the Object Storage paradigm (with great arguments), helped us bring the discussion to the next level by bringing up interesting topics such as the importance of metadata for the applications: who/what will enter metadata? The application? People? The panel acknowledged that, while applications already generate quite some metadata, companies will have to make business decisions on how much metadata they need. Adding more metadata comes at a cost as it will require manual work. The day after the panel, it was interesting to see Chris Mellor be critical of Object Storage in his review of the show (how dare the Object Storage vendors doubt the many benefits of tape?). Chris, join us on the panel next time!

Read the original blog entry...

About Tom Leyden
Tom Leyden is Director of Product Marketing for DataDirectNetworks.

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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


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Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
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With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
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We were extremely pleased with Cloud Expo this year - I’d say it exceeded expectations all around. This is the same info we got from partners who attended as well. Nice job!"
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So exactly how do you kick start a DevOps strategy? For example, say your organization is tied down to a very sequential, but cumbersome Waterfall approach to software development that is wasting precious dollars and hindering productivity? In the following we’ve outlined some strategy tips that every business leader will need to consider as they start down the path of DevOps adoption. Whatever steps your organization takes on the DevOps path of rolling out software faster and more effectively and deployment will require the support of your senior level management team. Explain the advantages of DevOps to the executive team in terms that they can easily understand. Provide an outline of how DevOps and cloud computing can save on ROI and get your new mobile application into the hands of the customer faster and more effectively with higher quality.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is getting personal. Wearables, ingestables, even implantables – devices that not only help us with our fitness, but can monitor and manage disease and its treatment – are right around the corner. And where the IoT goes, money follows. In this case, Big Pharma smells opportunity. But while these new consumer doodads get all the press, health-related IoT technologies are only the tip of the iceberg for the Digital Transformation hitting the pharmaceutical industry, as it struggles with a turbulent business landscape. “There are very few blockbuster drugs,” explains Eric Pilkington, EVP Digital Strategy at McCann Health North America. “The pharma companies are trying to figure out what to do. The competitors are the generics: identical and cheaper. The pharmas have to provide value beyond the drug itself.”
I came across a very interesting story posted at the Reviewed.com. Website in the section covering home oven reviews. The headline read “The Smart Home Dominates the Internet of Things.” The story, based on a recent report published by Appinions, a market research firm, stated that while home automation “is used interchangeably” with the Internet of Things, the fact is that the IoT is far bigger than that. “It promises to unify a vast array of industrial and commercial devices and activities, not just your phone and dishwasher.” To be sure, home automation is leading the way right now, what with Apple, Google, Microsoft and other companies jumping on the bandwagon. What is missing in the piece is the real challenge (and opportunity) of the IoT: monetization.
Such devices and connected technologies exist today, and the sector is driving the leading edge of the Internet of Things under the label of the “Connected Home” or “Smart Home”. Fact is, some pretty traditional low-tech concepts are becoming technology-enabled, such as/including locking doors, turning on the lights, heating the home, etc. What this means is that technology companies are broadening into areas that have historically been outside of their business plans. Apple is in the fitness business. Google is in the heating business. Samsung is in the appliance business. Others include cable TV and Internet provider Comcast, and the Schlage-brand lock maker Ingersoll Rand.
The IoT has the potential to transform the world, bringing new functions and efficiency to big problems such as disease, poverty, traffic, and government transparence. It also makes for a nice Christmas gift for “kids in science fair projects.” This latter point was made by Broadcom and Brian Bedrosian, the company's senior director for wireless connectivity. Specifically, the company has introduced its Wiced Sense Kit at a price of US$20. The kit—suitable for adult use, of course, as well--allows IoT developers and the millions of “makers” in the thriving Maker Movement to build sensors that communicate with iPhones, home communication hubs, and other devices. Suggested uses include baby monitors, door locks, and personal healthcare monitors. Broadcom's kit presumably competes with a US$25 kit from Texas Instruments, which also has Android and Bluetooth functionality.
When we talk about the impact of BYOD and BYOA and the Internet of Things, we often focus on the impact on data center architectures. That's because there will be an increasing need for authentication, for access control, for security, for application delivery as the number of potential endpoints (clients, devices, things) increases. That means scale in the data center. What we gloss over, what we skip, is that before any of these "things" ever makes a request to access an application it had to execute a DNS query. Every. Single. Thing.
Elasticity is hailed as one of the biggest benefits of cloud and software-defined architectures. It's more efficient than traditional scalability models that only went one direction: up. It's based on the premise that wasting money and resources all the time just to ensure capacity on a seasonal or periodic basis is not only unappealing, but unnecessary in the age of software-defined everything. The problem is that scaling down is much, much harder than scaling up. Oh, not from the perspective of automation and orchestration. That is, as the kids say these days, easy peasy lemon squeezy. APIs have made the ability to add and remove resources simplicity itself. There isn't a load balancing service available today without this capability - at least not one that's worth having.
As enterprises work to rapidly embrace the mobile revolution, both for their workforce and to engage more deeply with their customers, the pressure is on for IT to support the tools needed by their application developers. Mobile application developers are working with a massive variety of technologies and platforms, but one trend that stands out is the rapid adoption of NoSQL database engines and the use of Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) platforms and services to run them. Gartner has predicted that by 2017, 20% of enterprises will have their own internal mobile app store, meaning that enterprises are deploying both commercial and custom applications to their workforce at increasing speeds. There’s no denying the massive growth in mobile applications within the enterprise.
The Internet of Things is only going to make that even more challenging as businesses turn to new business models and services fueled by a converging digital-physical world. Applications, whether focused on licensing, provisioning, managing or storing data for these "things" will increase the already significant burden on IT as a whole. The inability to scale from an operational perspective is really what software-defined architectures are attempting to solve by operationalizing the network to shift the burden of provisioning and management from people to technology.
GovCloud Network is proud to announce that we have teamed with Tech Equity Ltd to deliver cloud education and training on a global basis. With this partnership, GovCloud Network will also add the Cloud Clinique Online Training and Cloud Computing Best Practices program to it's list of services. CloudClinique is an online cloud certification platform that contains over 7,500 cloud best practice concepts across 18 separate domains. Compiled by certified cloud practitioners and trainers, learning is organized around 10 minute sessions, and delivered using tools designed to reinforce your understanding and confidence level. The content and database is very rich and designed to prepare candidates for most cloud certification programs. Revision modules are available for the CompTIA Cloud Essentials Certification, CompTIA Cloud+ Certification, Cloud School Cloud Professional Certification, Cloud School Cloud Architect Certification, and the Cloud Security Alliance's Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge.
When Instagram was sold to Facebook in 2012, it employed only 13 people and maintained over 4 billion photos shared by its 80 million registered users. Internally, Instagram was a small business. Externally, it was a web monster. Filling the gap between those two contradictory perspectives is DevOps. Now to be fair, Instagram (like many other web monster properties today) has it easier than most other businesses because it supported only one application. One. That's in stark contrast to large enterprises which are, by most analyst firms, said to manage not one but one hundred and even one thousand applications - at the same time. Our own data indicates an average of 312 applications per customer, many of which are certainly integrated and interacting with one another.
Kirk Byers at SDN Central writes frequently on the topic of DevOps as it relates (and applies) to the network and recently introduced a list of seven DevOps principles that are applicable in an article entitled, "DevOps and the Chaos Monkey. " On this list is the notion of reducing variation. This caught my eye because reducing variation is a key goal of Six Sigma and in fact its entire formula is based on measuring the impact of variation in results. The thought is that by measuring deviation from a desired outcome, you can immediately recognize whether changes to a process improve the consistency of the outcome.Quality is achieved by reducing variation, or so the methodology goes.
The epic changes brought about by mobile and cloud computing over the past 5 years have completely transformed the way organizations do business today. We now live in an age where mobile devices are the PCs of choice and mobile apps are the ubiquitous software of choice in this digital era. IT is shifting completely to the cloud and this new paradigm is leading organizations to adopt quicker and more agile frameworks for managing that software.
Some companies are still hanging on to the belief that they can manage their own data centers better than the various cloud providers out there.This state of denial should all but go away when the influx of petabyte scale data becomes a reality for enterprises. Enterprises are going to have to ask themselves, “Do we want to be in the infrastructure business?” because that is what it will take to provide the appropriate amount of bandwidth, disk storage, and compute power to keep up with the demand for data ingestion, storage, and real-time analytics that will serve the business needs. If there ever was a use case for the cloud, the IoT and Big Data is it. Check out my latest post on Forbes that discusses Big Data strategies for tackling the IoT.
The Internet of Things could get out of control pretty fast. We’re still pretty far from self-aware homes trying to procreate, but as Gigaom Research analyst Craig Foster noted in his recent report on IoT security, the dangers are already very real. Take a look at the maritime industry. Earlier this yea, hackers tilted and... Read More
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Past SYS-CON Events
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Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

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PwC

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Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

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Oracle

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AppZero

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RightScale

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CiRBA

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NYT

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Oracle

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