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The Evolution of Solid State Arrays
Solid state storage continues to evolve

In the first wave of solid-state storage arrays, we saw commodity style SSDs (solid state drives) being added to traditional storage arrays. This solution provided an incremental benefit in performance over spinning hard drives, however the back-end technology in these arrays was developed up to 20 years ago and was purely focused around driving performance out of the slowest part of the infrastructure – the hard drive.  Of course SSDs are an order of magnitude faster than HDDs so you can pretty much guarantee SSDs in traditional arrays results in underused resources, but is premium priced.

Wave 2 of SSD arrays saw the development of custom hardware, mostly still continuing to use commodity SSDs.  At this point we saw full exploitation of the solid state capabilities, with architecture designed to provide the full performance capabilities of solid state drives.  These arrays removed unnecessary or bottlenecking features (like cache) and provided much more back-end scalability.  Within the wave 2 group, Nimbus Data have chosen a hybrid approach and developed their own solid state drives.  This gives them more control over the management functionality of the SSDs and subsequently more control over performance and availability.

Notably, some startup vendors have taken a slightly different approach.  Violin Memory have chosen from day 1 to use custom NAND memory cards called VIMMs (Violin Intelligent Memory Module). This technology removes the need for NAND to emulate a hard drive and for the interface between the processor/memory & persistent memory (e.g. the NAND) to go across a hard drive interface like SAS using the SCSI protocol.  Whilst it could be debated that the savings from removing the disk drive protocol could be marginal, the use of NAND that doesn’t emulate hard drives is about much more than that.  SSD controllers have many features to extend the life of the drive itself.  This includes wear levelling and garbage collection, features that could have a direct impact on device performance.  Custom NAND components can, for instance allow wear levelling to be achieved across the entire array or for individual cell failures to be managed more efficiently.

Building bespoke NAND components isn’t cheap.  Violin have chosen to invest in technology that they believe gives them an advantage in their hardware – no dependency on SSD manufacturers.  The ability to build advanced functionality into their persistent memory means availability can be increased (components don’t need to be swapped out as frequently – failing components can be partially used).

At this point we should do a call out to Texas Memory Systems, recently acquired by IBM.  They have also used custom NAND components; their RamSan-820 uses 500GB flash modules using eMLC memory.

I believe that the third wave will see many more vendors looking to move away from the SSD form factor and building bespoke NAND components as Violin have done.  Currently Violin and TMS have the headstart.  They’ve done the hard work and built the foundation of their platform.  Their future innovations will probably revolve around bigger and faster devices and replacing NAND with whatever is the next generation of persistent memory.

Last week, HDS announced their approach to full flash devices; a new custom-build Flash Module Drive (FMD) that can be added to the VSP platform.  This provides 1.6TB or 3.2TB (higher capacity due March 2013) of storage per module, which can then be stacked into an 8U shelf of 48 FMDs in total – a total of 600TB of flash in a single VSP.  Each FMD is like a traditional SSD drive in terms of height and width, but is much deeper in size.  It appears to the VSP as a traditional SSD.

The FMD chassis is separate to the existing disk chassis that are deployed in the VSP and so FMDs can’t be deployed in conjunction with hard drives.  Although this seems like a negative, the flash modules have higher specification back-end directors (to fully utilise the flash performance), which, in addition to their size, explains why they wouldn’t be mixed together.

Creating a discrete flash module provides Hitachi with a number of benefits compared to individual MLC SSDs including:

  • Higher performance on mixed workloads
  • Inbuilt compression using the onboard custom chips
  • Improved ECC error correction using onboard code and hardware
  • Lower power per TB consumption from higher memory density
  • > 1,000,000 IOPS in a single array

The new FMDs can also be used with HDT (dynamic tiering) to cater for mixed sub-LUN workloads and of course Hitachi’s upgraded microcode is already optimised to work with flash devices.

The Architect’s View
Solid state storage continues to evolve.  NAND flash is fast and has its foibles but this can be overcome with dedicated NAND modules.  Today, only four vendors have moved to dedicated solid-state components while the others continue to use commodity SSDs.  At scale, performance and availability, when viewed in terms of consistency become much more important.  Many vendors today are producing high performance devices, but how well will they scale going forward and how resilient will they be?  As the market matures, these differences will be the dividing line between survival and failure.

Disclaimer: I recently attended the Hitachi Bloggers’ and Influencers’ Days 2012.  My flights and accommodation were covered by Hitachi during the trip, however there is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time when attending the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

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Comments are always welcome; please indicate if you work for a vendor as it’s only fair. If you have any related links of interest, please feel free to add them as a comment for consideration.

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


Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
In this Cloud Expo Keynote, Danny Sabbah, CTO & General Manager, Next Generation Platform, will detail the critical architectural considerations and success factors organizations must internalize to successfully implement, optimize and innovate using next generation architectures.
Lisa Larson, Vice President of Enterprise Cloud Solutions of Rackspace Hosting Live From New York City
In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

Keynote: Driving Cloud Innovation: SSDs Change Cloud Storage Paradigm
Cloud is a transformational shift in computing that can have a powerful effect on enterprise IT when designed correctly and used to its full potential. Join Citrix in a discussion that centers on building, connecting and empowering users with cloud services and hear examples of how enterprises are solving real-world business challenges with an architecture and solution purpose-built for the cloud.

Go Beyond IaaS to Deliver "Anything As a Service"
Many organizations want to expand upon the IaaS foundation to deliver cloud services in all forms—software, mobility, infrastructure and IT. Understanding the strategy, planning process and tools for this transformation will help catalyze changes in the way the business operates and deliver real value. Join us to learn about the new ITaaS model and how to begin the transformation.


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Top Stories for Cloud Expo 2012 East

In this CTO Power Panel at the 10th International Cloud Expo, moderated by Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan, Vineet Tyagi; Head of Impetus Labs at Impetus Technologies; Darryl Brown, CMO at Appcore; Govind Rangasamy, Director of Product Management at Eucalyptus Systems; Frank Martinez, CTO of ServiceMesh; Wayne Ariola, VP of Strategy and Corporate Development at Parasoft; Bob Wicklund, Enterprise Solution Architect for McAfee Cloud and Content Security; and Ken Guiberson, CTO at EffectiveUI discussed such topics as which do you think is the most important cloud computing standard still to tackle and who should and shouldn't be using a PaaS product today, and why? ... (more)

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New York City Expo Floor Plan Revealed
Cloud Expo New York
[June 11-14, 2012]

Floor Plan Revealed


Introducing Big Data Expo
Introducing
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Get a jump on that rapidly evolving trend at Big Data Expo, which we are introducing in June at
Cloud Expo New York.

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Testimonials
Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
SVP, Global Infrastructure Management, CSS Corp.
 
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..."
PETE MALCOLM
CEO, Abiquo
 
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!"
MARY BASS
Director of Marketing, UnivaUD
 
Cloud Expo helps focus the debate on the critical issues at hand in effect connecting main street with the next frontier."

GREG O’CONNOR
President & CEO, Appzero


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Senior Technologists including CIOs, CTOs, VPs of technology, IT directors and managers, network and storage managers, network engineers, enterprise architects, communications and networking specialists, directors of infrastructure Business Executives including CEOs, CMOs, CIOs, presidents, VPs, directors, business development; product and purchasing managers.


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@CloudExpo Blogs
SYS-CON Events announced today that WHOA.com, an ISO 27001 Certified secure cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. WHOA.com is a leader in next-generation, ISO 27001 Certified secure cloud solutions. WHOA.com offers a comprehensive portfolio of best-in-class cloud services for business including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Secure Cloud Desktop, Cloud Storage, Disaster Recovery, Integrated Applications and Security.
Even though Apple and Microsoft haven’t commented on the new open source technology which delivers high quality audio and video capabilities to desktop and mobile browsers, major carriers such as AT&T and Telefónica, leading infrastructure providers like Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson and new WebRTC application providers in likes of Teledini and NetDev are driving the technology forward. Research analyst, Sabir Rafiq comments, “WebRTC brings many opportunities; ABI Research believes major trends will start to form within the enterprise market with WebRTC. Companies will be willing to implement t...
Developers working with WebRTC can now build native applications for Android, archive and playback live video communications within their application, and take advantage of a range of enterprise-grade quality-enhancing features, all thanks to four new developments from TokBox which launched today. OpenTok Archiving & Playback, released today into beta, allows developers to simply add video stream recording for their live video chat applications, save the conversation into a single H.264/AAC MP4 file, and download or stream it through the player of their choice. The Android SDK for WebRTC for...
Last week, a public company Informatica got acquired by two private equity funds – the Permira fund and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) for $5.3B. This is the biggest leveraged buyout so far this year. I am happy for my friend Sohaib Abbasi (we were colleagues at Oracle during the 1990s) who is CEO of Informatica after being a board member for a couple of years. During Sohaib’s time, the company entered into playing a bigger role in data archiving and life cycle management. It also made progress into offering cloud-based services.
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the set of devices and systems that interconnect real world sensors and actuators to the internet. This includes many different types of systems. These systems connect to the internet or gateway in a variety of manners including long range WiFi/Ethernet using IP protocols (tcp/udp, including cellular), short range Bluetooth low energy, short range Near Field Communications, or other types of medium range radio networks. Point to point radio links and serial lines are also used. There are many sensors that connect directly to the internet and there are ot...
IDG Enterprise’s 2015 Big Data and Analytics survey shows that the number of organizations with deployed/implemented data-driven projects has increased by 125% over the past year. The momentum continues to build. Big Data as a concept is characterized by 3Vs: Volume, Velocity, and Variety. Big Data implies a huge amount of data. Due to the sheer size, Big Data tends to be clumsy. The dominating implementation solution is Hadoop, which is batch based. Not just a handful of companies in the market merely collect lots of data with noise blindly, but they don't know how to cleanse it, let alone...
Log data provides the most granular view into what is happening across your systems, applications, and end users. Logs can show you where the issues are in real-time, and provide a historical trending view over time. Logs give you the whole picture. Today, everything must be faster. Faster releases; faster and larger backlogs; faster complaints; faster bugs. The speed and performance of the modern software delivery pipeline brings a new set of challenges. How do you keep up? There really is only one option - automation and measurement. You need a method for automatically collecting data abou...
There's a real buzz about microservices and containers in the application development and DevOps communities, and of course these are topics we've been talking about a great deal lately here at XebiaLabs too. Microservices and containers offer many attractive features, not least the potential for enhanced flexibility, and a robust architecture based on best-fit services. What we at XebiaLabs are really interested in is how organizations can effectively deliver microservices-based apps to better serve their customers and users. As we break down monolithic applications and move complexity fro...
For most C-level executives (and most of the rest of the planet too), the concept of ‘risk’ is generally first perceived as a negative. The notion of risk as a business positive (or a ‘business enabler’ even) is fanciful, flaky and fraught with fallibility – isn’t it? This proposition is not as feeble as it sounds and there are a number of reasons why this is so. First, let’s be essentially mathematical about this for a minute. If John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, Adam Smith or (insert your favorite economics guru here) have taught us anything, it is that business should be about measure...
Articles about the IoT (Internet of Things) have moved from technical journals to our daily newspapers. They are a popular mainstream media topic today, but where are there actual business values found as a result of the IoT? In this article we will explore some of these topics. In the rugged blue collar environment, vehicles, high valued equipment and other assets can be connected to the IoT to wirelessly report on their status, hours of operation, location, environment, maintenance and repair needs. This data can alert management when there is a problem, event or automatically create se...
Community is an area of great interest to me. As the evangelist for VictorOps, I’m tapped with many challenges and responsibilities. Not only do I try to provide useful guidance and feedback regarding VictorOps and DevOps best practices, but also bring together customers and partners with shared interest and excitement for what we are building to make on-call suck less. If there is a group in which one could model how to build a great community after, it’s Chef and this year’s ChefConf is a testament to that.
One of the unintended consequences of cloud is the operational inconsistency it introduces. That inconsistency is introduced because cloud commoditizes the infrastructure we're used to having control over and visibility into. everything from the core network to the application services upon which business and operations relies to ensure performance, availability and security are often times obscured behind simplified services whose policies and configurations cannot be reconciled with those we maintain on-premise.
Today, the demand for new applications is growing at an unprecedented rate throughout lines of business and across industries. Customer expectations for mobile and e-commerce capabilities are transforming software development speed and quality into a competitive differentiator for even the most unlikely businesses. For existing software development shops, the proliferation of platforms, increasing need for total global uptime, and accelerating pace of industry disruption by fast-paced startups have all put increased pressure on development. In every vertical, more code must be shipped than eve...
2015 is the 10th birthday of Ruby on Rails (or simply called Rails), the popular open source web application framework that uses the Ruby programming language. Ever since Rails burst on the scene a decade ago it has continued to scale up as an elegant way to build dynamic websites quickly and efficiently. Rails has garnered a strong following, especially among tech startups. In fact, some of the best known firms out there are using the framework to build their sites. Examples of elegant sites built on Rails are Groupon, Airbnb, and Bloomberg.
In my younger days (we won’t discuss how long ago that was) I decided to take up sailing. I had always been fascinated watching sailboats, gliding smoothly along the water, with nothing but wind as their engine. My first lesson on the water was an exhilarating and eye opening experience. The instructor took me out on a 17-foot day sailer. It was a brisk New England April afternoon, what seemed like a perfect day to be sailing. The instructor explained the different techniques and maneuvers required to traverse the lake, which I executed, though somewhat nervously. We were moving at what felt l...
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Past SYS-CON Events
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cloudcomputingexpo
2011west.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcexpo
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    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2010west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualization
2010west.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2010.
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    Cloud Expo East
cloudcomputingexpo
2010east.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo East
virtualizationconference
2010east.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualizationconference
2009west.sys-con.com
    GovIT Expo
govitexpo.com
 
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2009.sys-con.com
 

Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
  –William Toll
Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
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  –Richard Wellner
Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
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CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
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CTO
Brick Group