Pure Storage hits the Australian market!

Going to vendor presentations is always interesting on three fronts:

  1. What new technology is hitting the market?   The IT industry is constantly changing, which means to survive you need to be constantly learning.
  2. How are other vendors presenting their message?    Can I pick up any good ideas?
  3. How will their new innovations affect the market?   Are we all about to be unemployed?

What led me to this musing is a presentation I  attended today by Pure Storage.   It was a breakfast presentation, but they made it run fast, with a nominal start time of 7:30; talking starting at 7:45 and done by 9am!   Frankly this shows a lot of respect for the audience.   People simply don’t have the time for a half day seminar let alone a whole day.

The location (the Sofitel) was top dollar so their marketing budget clearly showed, as did their hiring budget.  They had A-Team Executives there including President David Hatfield, their CMO, the amazing Vaughn Stewart and Michael Cornwell their VP for APAC.   These guys have clearly assembled a killer leadership team and are hiring big (so big that EMC are suing people – check that story out here).

The bulk of the presentation was by David Hatfield who spoke really well and presented a great slide deck (top marks for presentation).

New entrants always struggle to get past the ‘your new, why should I trust you’  problem, so they immediately countered by telling us that they are on their third generation box – having started in analytics.      They then talked up their huge well placed and independent funding.   Its clear these guys are funded to go big (and are spending big right now to get there).

The opened the presentation with images of iPhones and of Google racks.   While these were aimed (I think) to  show the pervasiveness of flash, they also served to associate Pure Storage with ease of use which was one of their major messages.

But their main message was clear:   The disk is the bottleneck.   That hybrid (cache/flash/disk)  technology still allows for cache misses and still require too much setup and consulting and that all-flash devices using Consumer Grade MLC is the way to go.   They manage cost by 6:1 dedup inline ingest (depending on data type).  This means you can store 6 GB of client data in 1 GB of flash.  

They said their array would last 7-10 years as every component could be upgraded on the fly with no impact which is an impressive engineering goal.

They showed a case study of Paylocity, a Payroll Company who got 800% better SQL response ones, dropped backup times from 1.5 hours to 10 minutes, went from 8x 30 amp to 2 x 15 amp, reduced rack space from  58U to 10U, took 150TB of 3PAR and HDS down to 35TB of Pure Storage  Flash and achieved 4:1 dedup. 

The CEO of their local reference (Charles Tym from Harbour IT),  was part of a panel they then ran.  Charles spoke about how they bought UCS and Nexus but they could not get more than 10% out of their network because of disk latency.   They increased their disk footprint but this didn’t help (he didn’t say which vendor/brand).   They tried Pure Storage and got 10:1 dedup and amazing performance and are now retiring their disk based storage to be used as backup and DR disk.

So what did I think?

  1. They gave a great pitch but need to keep the focus on how they solve business problems (not just reduce cost).   There are too many flash entrants to just focus on speeds/feeds and on heat, space, noise and cost reduction.
  2. Their simplicity  message is key….  it’s what the market wants.
  3. They need to sell big… it seems to me that with the big investment in manpower they are making right now they will need to start showing results very quickly, regardless of how well they are funded.

The flash vendor wars are now in full swing.   Pure Storage are showing all the signs of being a big winner.   I wish them luck.

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Safety Switches in the Data Center?

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If you are living in a house in Australia built since some point after the year 2000, your home is almost certainly being protected by a safety switch – normally an RCD or Residual Current Device.  The job of the RCD is to cut off power if there is an imbalance between the Active and Neutral conductors, normally caused by a short to ground. The good news is that the RCD is keeping your home safe, protecting your family and making it 40% less likely your home will burn down due to fire.  The RCD in my own house has tripped occasionally, normally because a household kitchen device like an electric frypan or the element in my clothes dryer has ‘blown up’ but occasionally it trips for reasons unknown.

I had always presumed that RCDs did not have a role to play in the data centre, but I recently learned that this is not the case.  I attended a conference entitled “Meet the Data Centre Experts” where David Morley, Data Centre Engineer from CITEC  in Brisbane explained that many of their data centre racks are now protected by RCDs. This change was made after the release of the AS/NZS 3000: 2007 Wiring Rules & subsequent revisions. These revisions specify requirements for Residual Current Protection to be installed to practically all new and modified power circuits; this includes those within the Data Centre.

The only racks at CITEC that do not have RCDs are those where power consumption exceeds the capability of the RCD or where the equipment in the rack is so sensitive (due to its role in say ‘Emergency Services’) that the equipment is quarantined from RCD use.

Because power supply filters create a lot of transient noise and leakage an improved version of the RCD known as a Super immunised RCD is being used to eliminate nuisance trips. They test their RCDs every 6-24 months which means a rolling series of power interruptions on one ‘side’ of each rack. Rather than do rail1 followed by rail2, they normally test all the rail1s in a series of racks and then all the rail2s. This gives a ‘decent interval’ between power supply interruptions so the affected equipment can reset/recover from a power input loss error condition.

Interestingly the main issue that has come out of this is the human factor. Pre-checks occasionally find mis-cabled racks where data centre equipment either has only one power supply or where the equipment has dual power, both cords are attached to the same rail. Even racks that were previously ‘compliant’ can be found to be out of compliance when new equipment is added or worse, when existing equipment is maintained or repaired and the vendor doing the work does not correctly reconnect the power cords. Finally both power supplies need to be operational, so failed power supplies are also unearthed in this process.

The RCDs in use at CITEC appear to come from Geist who coincidentally sponsored the presentation.

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Upgraded to iOS7? Two things you should do RIGHT NOW!

So for all of you iPhone and iPad users out there who have upgraded to iOS7….   can I humbly suggest you change two default settings straight away?
Apple in their wisdom chose to allow people to access your Control Center and Notification Center from the lock screen.   I think this is a bad idea and can allow mischief if someone gets hold of your phone.

So go:

Settings –>  Notification  Center.
Now turn off the top two options (Access on Lock Screen ->  Notifications View)
Your screen should look like the example below:

Notification Center

Thats the Notification Center done, now onto the Control Center.  Go to:

Settings –>  Control Center
Now turn off the top option (Access on Lock Screen).
Your screen should look like the example below:

Control Center

Now we are a bit more secure…  I really want to point out one more panel which I like to entitle “Where the hell did my download limit go?”   To find this panel go:

Settings –>  Cellular

Now scroll to the bottom to a section entitled “USE CELLULAR DATA FOR:”See the numbers in KB and MB?   They show what traffic that app has consumed since tracking began.   This is a truly awesome way to spot ‘noisy’ apps.

Cellular Usage

And if you haven’t updated yet… do so….    I truly love the look and feel OF IOS7.   The improved camera app in particular is a highlight.

Now if only I could plug in some extra memory….

 

 

 

 

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Tone is everything

So last week Apple made their most recent product release, announcing their new hardware (the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S) and new software (iOS 7) to the world.    While I have talked to quite a few people about the announcements, I am struck that nearly all of them are relying on the media analysis, rather than on their own viewing of the keynote.

Having watched the whole 86 minute presentation by Apple, I marvel at how such an amazing technical achievement by Apple (the 64 bit CPU and the new camera in particular are truly awesome) was let down by slightly boring low-key presenters.   Only the Game developers from Infinity Spark actually had… spark!

I am astonished that a world leader like Apple doesn’t make its executives do more Public speaking training, or frankly use more energized presenters.   I have seen so many IT presentations trying to overcome technical inadequacies with slick presentation, that it seems bizarre that such a tech giant would allow a phenomenal set of technical achievements be downplayed by low-key presentations.

Regardless, I would urge you to watch the keynote….   as I said, the camera capabilities in the iPhone 5S are mind-blowing and that’s just a small part of what they have done.   Their new A7 64 bit CPU continues to move us closer to the Star Trek gadget capabilities we have been yearning for since the 1960s.

Enjoy:

 

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Dispute it, we must…

Anthony Vandewerdt:

Jon doesn’t say who is spreading FuD…. but I can guess #;-)

Originally posted on Storage CH Blog:

Post by Jon Tate (thank you)

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Alexander Pope.

Well we are mixing up poetry and Star Wars here today (or tomorrow, if it is already tomorrow where you are), and finish it off with a cryptic message.

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase here: a long time ago, in an IBM Redbook far, far away (December 2011), in an effort to get out timely information to the field, the first draft (which was a pre-review version), of the IBM Redbook Implementing the IBM Storwize V7000 V6.3, SG24-7938-01, contained the following statement in error:

Read on here

View original

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Actifio feedback in two minutes and thirty two seconds

The place was Sydney; the date was August 6, 2013; the event was Actifio’s first major launch event in the Australia/New Zealand region.

Over 150 attendees heard from five of Actifio’s local clients:  JBS Swift, SAI Global, People’s Choice Credit Union, Henry-Davis-York and IAG New Zealand.   Check out what they had to say here:

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And yes I am in the video… look for me in the white shirt in the 11th second  #;-)

 

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VMworld 2013 – a view from the expo floor

So I just spent four days manning the Actifio stand in the expo hall at VMworld 2013.   I wish I could tell you about all the amazing sessions I attended, but that wasn’t why I was there (although I did drop by most of the stands in the expo hall).   In fact I was there to do something far closer to my heart:  Talk about Actifio to 1000s of people.

So what can I tell you?

1)  Flash is everywhere.   Did I say everywhere?   I mean… EVERYWHERE!!!    The number of Flash vendors increases every year.    Smart controllers, custom silicone and very similar looking storage bridge bay enclosures.   I think the challenge for all of them will be to avoid the appearance of vendor overlap and show how they differentiate.  Nimble, Nimbus, IBM…   The Pure Storage guys were certainly hitting it big with a massive stand.  It’s no wonder Violin is going to IPO.

2)  VMwares domination in the Hypervisor market is very impressive and their grand plans equally so.   Perhaps they should adopt Google’s motto:   Don’t be evil.  But in an amazing counterpoint, we ran into Microsoft’s Hyper-V Product Manager at lunch on the last day (and no he didn’t sneak in, he paid, just like the rest of us).   Not only was he amazingly articulate and well informed, but he told a great and very realistic story of the journey of Hyper-V.    A story only really let down by the very cheesy Microsoft touters outside the Moscone centre offering free custard.   Huh?

3)  XIV was right.   Yep all you pushy EMC reps who wrote to my XIV customers telling them they would lose their job for making such a poor technology choice….   After listening to the VMware VSAN story (VMware Virtual SAN) and the Nutanix story…   maintaining two independent copies synchronously across multiple clustered servers connected by a high speed network is certainly making it big.   In fact both Nutanix and VSAN appear to take the XIV story to the next level with storage groups and smart ways to guarantee SLA based performance. Of course Nutanix have been doing it for quite a while already.  Exciting times.

4)  EMC are clearly interested in Actifio.   We had quite a few EMC employees come by the Actifio booth.   They were quite pushy and demanding even when it was clear we had real clients to talk to.   Not very classy…     We even had a visit from Chuck Hollis, who was in comparison, gracious and dignified (as always).   Amusingly his badge still said he worked for EMC….  I thought he was moving to VMware?

5)  Booth babes are finally dropping off in quantity.   I only saw one vendor resorting to these sad tactics (some sort of cloud services company) and frankly they looked plain tacky.

6)  Speaking of gender equality… the lines at the gents headed out the door but the ladies could go straight in.   Nice turn around, but sadly it could only occur because men outnumbered women about 20 to 1.

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7)  As for Moscone,  their Wi-Fi sucked.  Seriously.   We (Actifio) paid a small fortune for Wi-Fi access in the expo hall and it was practically useless.   As was Wi-Fi in the keynotes (um… actually there was no working Wi-Fi at all).   So much for tweeting live as you watched the presentations….    And if you are ever planning on manning a stand at one of these expos.. get the extra thick carpet for your stand.  After four days standing at the booth I am going to have to expense a new pair of feet.

8)  Pat Gelsinger needs to drink more red bull before giving a keynote.   LOTs of red bull. I wasn’t expecting a Steve Ballmer impersonation but maybe Pat should watch a few of Steves videos before getting on stage.    Here is what I am talking about:

9)    As for entertainment, the vFlipCup community event on Monday night was a fantastic get together, thanks to everyone who attended and all the vendors who helped to sponsor the event.

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The VMworld party at AT&T Park was also outstanding.   The music was excellent, both Imagine Dragons and especially Train who absolutely rocked the house.    Great job VMware, a great end to a great event.

10)  Finally I have to say, Actifios ability to solve the copy data explosion remains unique. Every single customer attendee who dropped by the stand was suffering from the dual problems of too much copy data and too many IT products that were not helping to reduce the growth in that data.   Thanks to each and every one of you for dropping by.   Sorry if it got crowded sometimes!

stand

Given the opportunities we can see to solve our clients copy data problems and our 700% growth rate,  we are going to have an even huger presence at VMworld 2014.

 

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