Welcome!

Eclipse Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, David H Deans, JP Morgenthal

Blog Feed Post

Software Defined Storage - Zombie Box Huggers are Winning

In all honesty, I first submitted the abstract for a talk on Software Defined Storage to SNIA very early this year. It seemed like a different world then, and I really had no idea what I was getting into. For the purposes of full disclosure, I was the sponsor for an SDS project before I left Dell, and so I had spent a lot of time sifting through all the data and the nonsense that surrounds it. It felt apropos to put together a talk on what we had learned about the topic: the use cases, the technologies, the market, and the business. In the intervening months, something happened out there to cause the topic to become an epic technological hot potato. I've now given two talks at two separate conferences, and served on two panels, all in the vain attempt to place a clinical definition on SDS. I don't think that such a definition will be possible. Additionally, I want to make it clear:  I am a skeptic when it comes to the products on the market today. Let's talk about my somewhat slanted viewpoint:


SDS is Like Tobacco...

While this may sound like a cruel metaphor, it is apt. You can substitute alcohol, or any other recreational drug here, but the relationship would be the same. There is a short term buzz you get from the products, but there are long term problems and dangers that need to be managed. The sellers are fundamentally hoping that you are adult enough to not go on a bender and crash your car, or destroy yourself in some way, so you can keep coming back. There are use cases where the products work, but one should be very wary of assuming that, in a super-competitive industry, storage arrays are so massively mis-priced that it is economically advantageous to construct one from parts. Integration and testing is a huge task that effectively "de-commoditizes" all of the storage products available today. A bug that has a .1% chance of occurring may seem like an acceptable risk with 4 disks. With 100 disks, you have a different calculus to consider.

One of the comments that I heard at SDC is that we have effectively unlearned all the things that we learned 20-30 years ago about creating resilient systems from cheap disks. This isn't entirely true. What we have learned is that there may be better ways to get storage resiliency at very large scale. It's a sexy concept, and those who think they have the physical scale necessary owe it to themselves to try it. Those without cloud-sized data centers need to consider the possibility that the best bet is to rent disk space from companies that have the mass, i.e. Amazon, Google, etc. Trying to convince someone that they can be Google or Amazon if they only just bought your software, is much like selling steroids to people who don't work out. Nice story, but missing key facts.


The Box Huggers Are Not Who You Think

It has been a long-speculated axiom of storage that the people want boxes. If you want to sell storage, you need to put it in a metal box and sell it. Upon much contemplation and discussion on the topic, I have come to the conclusion that his has more to do with economics than anything else: customers are used to buying capacity and sellers are used to selling in the same manner. In fact, there are very few people who have gotten past the notion of paying for something other than capacity. Generally, this is how storage works: you have some data of a particular size, and you want to put it in storage commensurate with that size.  The more hazy your needs are, the more likely you will overbuy and hence overpay for your need.

It should not be a surprise then, that the people who are most religious about clinging to boxes tend to be those who are selling them. In full disclosure, I have to confess that I may be one of this cohort. It really represents the easiest way to comprehend what you are selling and what the customer is buying. You would like to be able to offer X Terabytes of highly available storage, with quantified performance, up to N LUNs, up to M snapshots, etc. This is really an indication of tested limits more than anything else, and it should be construed as a support statement from the vendor to the customer. Without that metal box to test, guaranteeing any level of performance or functionality can quickly spiral into an unbounded problem. Hence, we love boxes more than anyone. Perhaps this is why many perceive that the market is troubled by the encroachment from the cloud scale services such as Amazon's and Google's. Nonetheless, the box hugger's view of the world is that any product without clearly defined and testable performance objectives is fundamentally a toy.


Most Customers Are Actually Data Huggers

In my wanderings over the last decade, I have met many, many customers who buy and manage infrastructure. The one most important commonality among all of them is how tightly the security of their employers' data is tied to their success. The word "security" in this case is not to be understood as only protection from intrusion, but also its availability, performance, and the general control of its destiny. That last item - control - is perhaps the most important of all. Putting their data in the cloud gives them the same detachment that they get from sending their kids off to college. Risking data loss is so unacceptable, that making copies and scattering them in as many places as possible seems to be de rigueur. That is pretty paranoid.

This should be a hint to everyone. There is a mentality evident among many software vendors that their role in providing the aforementioned security can be conveniently redlined above the disks or the hardware platform or the network. I don't think that there is a bias against software only solutions. Rather, it's evident that the data-hugging masses aren't getting the feelings of security that they need to widely adopt the approach. As I said in the panel discussion last week, this is less of a technical problem and more of a business model problem. If a model exists that allows the technology to be delivered to customers with the warm, fuzzy feeling of control, I'm sure this market will find it. I don't see one right now.

So what will happen? Without some major redirection, it's clear that there is going to be a shakeup of sorts in this space. The minority of shops that have the expertise, the mandate, and the spare time, will make their choices. The bulk of those choices will be for free software because that is the easiest way to rationalize the internal support costs of the do-it-yourself approach. In the end, the paying market for many of these solutions will not be large enough to support all the players. The winners will be either open source (i.e. profit-free), or solutions incorporated into existing platforms at no extra cost (watch VMware and Microsoft here). Finally, without addressing the needs of the data hugging mid-market, its hard to see any of these products seeing more than limited acceptance.

I'm pretty flexible with my opinion. I change my mind when the facts before me change. Right now, this is what I believe.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lazarus Vekiarides

For over 20 years Lazarus Vekiarides has served in key technical and leadership roles delivering breakthrough technologies to market. Laz is currently co-founder and VP of Products for a stealth-mode entrepreneurial venture in the storage and networking space. Until recently, he served as the Executive Director of Software Engineering for Dell’s EqualLogic Storage Engineering group, where he was responsible for the development of all storage management technologies as well as host OS and hypervisor integration. Laz joined Dell as part EqualLogic, which was acquired in early 2008, where he was a member of the core leadership team – playing a role in the company’s early success as a Sr. Engineering Manager and Architect for the PS Series SAN arrays and host tools. Prior to EqualLogic, Laz held senior engineering and management positions at several companies including 3COM and Banyan Systems. He holds a BSEE from Northeastern University, an MSCS from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and an ACE from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

@ThingsExpo Stories
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...