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Oracle-Sun deal a storage game changer?; VMware extends storage features with vSphere 4

Headlines: Oracle's plan to deliver systems "from application to disk" will have it competing with its biggest storage partners, according to industry experts. The newest version of VMware's server virtualization software will add thin provisioning on virtual disks, support for third-party multipathing and a low-end backup tool.

Storage channel news roundup for April 16-22, 2009

Analysts see Oracle-Sun deal as storage 'game changer'

Oracle Corp. has announced its intention to acquire Sun Microsystems Inc. in an all-cash transaction worth $9.50 per share of Sun stock, for a total net value of $5.6 billion when Sun's debts are factored in.

Executives on a conference call this week said the intention is to build complete purpose-built hardware and software systems for running Oracle databases, a move that has storage industry analysts forecasting a potential sea change for the storage industry.

Sun's Java programming language and OpenSolaris operating system were the biggest drivers of the deal, according to remarks made by Oracle founder Larry Ellison during a conference call to discuss the merger Monday morning. However, both Ellison and Oracle president Charles Phillips said that systems and storage hardware are big parts of the plan for Oracle-Sun.

Read the full story on the Oracle-Sun deal.

VMware extends storage features with vSphere 4

VMware Inc.'s vSphere (previously VMware Infrastructure) 4 software release, launched this week, will include thin provisioning and hot extension for virtual disks, support for third-party multipathing software and a low-end data protection tool meant to compete with Microsoft Corp.'s Data Protection Manager (DPM).

The most significant change to storage management in vSphere 4 is the addition of thin provisioning for virtual disks and hot extension for virtual logical unit numbers (LUNs). These features allow for expansion of virtual disks on the fly.

Thin provisioning lets server admins allocate storage as needed, similar to the way array-based thin provisioning works today, but administered through the VMware vCenter management system at the server level. At last fall's VMworld user conference, VMware officials had spoken about linking VMware's thin provisioning with array-based thin provisioning, but that integration isn't available in this release.

"Long term, we may open APIs so storage arrays have visibility as to where virtual machines reside in volumes, but today we don't have that," said Jon Bock, VMware senior product marketing manager.

Read the full story on VMware vSphere 4.

HP carves up blade storage with LeftHand software

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. has ported LeftHand Networks Inc.'s SAN/iQ iSCSI storage-area network (SAN) software as well as its Virtual Storage Appliance to its BladeSystem servers, and can now pool the storage in multiple blade chassis into one SAN.

In another move related to storage blades, HP said its BladeSystem chassis will now support zoning on direct-attached SAS storage to create partitions of DAS on the same shared disk array for blade servers.
The new HP LeftHand P4000 SAN uses LeftHand's SAN/iQ software on the HP BladeSystem, which can incorporate externally attached storage arrays. LeftHand's software provides redundancy features for multisite disaster recovery replication and high availability.

Read up on the release of HP's iSCSI SAN system, the SAS Starter SAN.

Ocarina partners take on NetApp in primary storage dedupe

Five network-attached storage (NAS) vendors looking to compete with NetApp's data deduplication for primary data have partnered with Ocarina Networks to integrate their products with Ocarina's ECOsystem storage-reduction appliances.

BlueArc Corp., EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co., Hitachi Data Systems and Isilon Systems Inc. have all signed on for different levels of integration with startup Ocarina.

Ocarina Optimizer for BlueArc keeps the Ocarina ECO device on separate hardware, preserves file links in its original file system and compresses the data through Ocarina while moving it to lower tiers of storage. Hitachi Data Systems also sells the Ocarina Optimizer for BlueArc with BlueArc NAS systems that Hitachi OEMs.

EMC, which recently announced file-level single-instancing available for Celerra, is certifying the Ocarina appliance as an option for customers looking for more tiered storage compression, and allowing it access to files on Celerra through its FileMover API.

HP's PolyServe and Isilon Systems have ported the software directly onto their clustered NAS heads to deduplicate data post-process, after it has been written to disk.

Check out our deduplication cheat sheet.

Archiving vendors Iron Mountain, Tarmin sharpen e-discovery focus

With tougher regulations expected in the financial services and other industries as a result of the global economic downturn, digital archiving vendors such as Iron Mountain Inc. and Tarmin Technologies Ltd. are homing in on e-discovery last week.

Iron Mountain launched a new hosted email archiving service and is offering its customers the ability to transfer archived data to Legal Discovery Services provided by its Stratify Inc. subsidiary.

Software-based data archiving startup Tarmin released GridBank 1.5 with support for Microsoft SharePoint and the ability to index, classify and search files outside of the Tarmin archive.

Iron Mountain's new Total Email Management Suite service comes through a partnership with U.K.-based Mimecast. It will be available in the U.S. in May and in Europe shortly after. To deploy the service, customers install Mimecast's Outlook plug-in locally and manage their archives through Mimecast's Web-based GUI.

Read the full story on Tarmin's and Iron Mountain's e-discovery tools.

San Francisco real estate firm picks Neverfail for disaster recovery

The decision to set up a disaster recovery (DR) site for Stockbridge Real Estate Funds was simple enough, given the firm's main office is in a San Francisco high-rise building. Finding a solution that worked within its current environment and budget was the tricky part.

The commercial real estate investment firm outsources its IT to BayNode Technology Consulting, and BayNode president Cem Kursunoglu oversaw Stockbridge's high-availability and disaster recovery initiatives.

Read the full Neverfail case study.

Dedupe still mainly for backup, not primary data

With data deduplication rapidly becoming a standard feature in backup products, storage administrators are looking forward to using the data reduction technology for more of their data. But while non-backup products do support dedupe, technology hurdles must be overcome before it becomes ubiquitous.

Data deduplication and compression can help tame data growth and allow companies to spend less on disk, but these technologies are in their early days for primary data.

Today, NetApp's FAS arrays can perform post-process, block-level deduplication. EMC Corp.'s Celerra NAS does file-level dedupe. NEC Corp. of America's HydraStor and Permabit Technology Corp.'s Enterprise Archive archiving products added data reduction for long-term repositories, while Data Domain Inc. has positioned its DD Series for use as a nearline or archival device in addition to backup. Some storage pros have begun to visualize a world with dedupe everywhere, but this is still a dream.

Read the full story on using deduplication beyond backup.

Iomega goes multiprotocol with StorCenter Pro ix4-200r for SMBs

Iomega, the small business and consumer division of EMC Corp., introduced the StorCenter Pro ix4-200r four-drive rackmount data storage system last week with iSCSI support for block storage as well as network-attached storage (NAS).

The ix4-200r is the latest product in Iomega's StorCenter NAS product line for SMBs and remote offices. The company introduced the first one, the ix2 desktop NAS appliance, last October.

NetEx releases transport acceleration technology

Data transport company NetEx this week announced a new tool for managed services providers and other solution providers that offer cloud storage services.

The company's HyperIP for Cloud Data Transport appliance and Virtual HyperIP for VMware software are intended to speed replication and recovery from cloud storage sites by overcoming bandwidth limitations of Ethernet and TCP/IP networks. NetEx says the products aggregate multiple replication applications over a shared connection while mitigating latency and disruption, via patent-pending acceleration technology.

As an adjunct to HyperIP for Cloud, NetEx offers a "Recovery on Demand" unlimited-bandwidth option that can be used in case of a major failure, for a 10-day period at no extra charge.

HyperIP for Cloud supports long-distance data transfer rates as high as 800 Mbps.

SSD startup WhipTail signs on five channel partners

WhipTail Technologies, which launched in December 2008 as a provider of solid-state storage (SSD) appliances, this week announced its first five channel partners: Arkay Systems, Managecast, Scale Datacom, The Admins and XLNsystems.

WhipTail CTO James Candelaria says the company's Citrix-certified WT-line products deliver more cost-effective SSD by using "a sophisticated software stack to mitigate the inherent performance issues of NAND flash," thereby gaining economy-of-scale efficiencies. The products, which come in 1.5 TB and 3TB capacities for about $60,000 and about $80,000, respectively, are sold only through the channel.

CEO Ed Rebholz said his past experience as a solution provider puts him a position to understand what his channel partners want and that the company modeled its partner program after Citrix's. WhipTail plans to recruit three channel partners a month for the next 12 months.

Jamie Borst, owner of Scale Datacom, based in Londonderry, N.H., said that he was motivated to become a WhipTail partner for a few reasons. It would give him the opportunity to work with the company's new channel manager, John Zamites, he said, and he was looking to develop a partnership with an SSD provider. Borst said the company's deal registration program was also a big motivator.

Paragon Software rolls out new VAR portal

Security and data management software maker Paragon Software this week announced the launch of its new VAR portal, designed to provide better access to the company's partner tools. Elite and Premium partners will have access to training material, sales collateral, event and promotion schedules; and will be able to register deals and place marketing development funds requests.

You can find more information on Paragon's channel program here.

Storage product news of the week

Check out last week's storage channel news roundup here.

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