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CommVault: We’re not just a backup company but we don’t like telling you

April 8th, 2015 2 comments

I was very fortunate to attend Virtualisation Field Day earlier this year. One of the companies presenting was CommVault who bill themselves as a “data” company.

They spent the majority of their time at Virtualisation Field Day going through all the details of how they can do backups and restores and to be honest it was rather dull. Backups are hugely critical to your infrastructure and just like insurance you don’t want to find out you are not protected when it is too late. The thing though is backup nowadays is such a utility service. It would be unfair to say that backups haven’t evolved because they have particularly with virtualisation but ultimately you are still taking a copy of your data and storing it remotely from your live data. The what hasn’t changed much even if the how has.

This makes talking about backup a difficult task because your audience always certainly knows what backup does and generally how it works even if your tool may have a few differences. Being able to back something up and restore it is a given, being able to mount backups of VMs and restore files within those backed up VMs is now a given as well however your backup vendor choses to do it.

I feel CommVault did itself a disservice at Virtualisation Field Day which is evident by the lack of post game talk and analysis about their solution compared to some of the other presentations, proof that backups are not sexy.

However I feel that CommVault has an interesting story to tell if they could just elevate themselves from the backup bandwagon.

CommVault Simpana’s USP is not in the backup but in the use and analysis of the data that has been ingested. I use ingested deliberately to make the distinction between it just being a backup used to recover something some time in the future. Companies are being asked to do more and more with their data, some of it is in live databases or files but a huge amount is actually archive data, old log files, old emails, old text messages, old voicemails, old x-rays, old files. Companies are often required legally to keep this old stuff around for a long time and you know how this is stored, in a completely separate copy from backups. Emails are journalled by product x. text messages by product y, voicemails by product z. These products may be even separate companies with completely separate data formats, there’s no way you could search across them.

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Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: SolarWinds

January 8th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 4 is happening in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post: Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview.

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logo for SolarWinds IT management software including server monitoring and network performance monitoringlogo for SolarWinds IT management software including server monitoring and network performance monitoring

Everyone has heard of SolarWinds and either used your seen their ubiquitous network monitoring product Orion but you may or may not be surprised to know that they do a lot more. They have a bunch more networking products apart from their monitoring product, know of Kiwi Syslog Server, that’s SolarWinds. They do server and application monitoring for over 150 apps as well as VMware, Hyper-V, Windows, AIX, UNIX, Solaris and Linux so fairly broad then.

They do security software with SIEM log and event management, Secure FTP, 3rd party patch deployment (Adobe, Java, Oracle etc.), firewall config management, database performance analysis (SQL, Oracle, DB2, Sybase)

So basically, SolarWinds provides products for monitoring every aspect of your infrastructure, I’m sure Docker is either done or on the roadmap!

This being Virtualisation Field Day, I would think SolarWinds will be talking about its Virtualization Manager to manage VMware and Hyper-V. You can monitor performance and capacity to your hearts content, manage VM Sprawl, track configuration changes, look at dashboards galore, map dependencies and use a module for VDI performance monitoring.

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Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: CommVault

January 8th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 4 is happening in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post: Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview.

CommVault

Commvault is a data company (what backup companies also now call themselves) and has previously presented at Virtualization Field Day 3 and Tech Field Day 9.

Calling Commvault just a backup company isn’t a little disparaging as their software aims to do a lot more and rather like to think of themselves as providing information management. Sure, backing up and restoring data is important but there are a lot more reasons why you need to keep a copy of your data. You may need to keep an email archive for compliance reasons, journal instant messages from your traders for legal reasons so your lawyers have evidence to sift through or securely store x-rays for a long period of time. Archives, journaling, backups, reporting, legal discovery all rolled into one. It can suck in a whole bunch of stuff from end point laptops to mobile devices across physical, virtual, cloud, database, file, email, unix, Mac and windows. It has broad reach without the dreary and clunky legacy of TSM and NetBackup and although not as sexy, simple or targeted as Veeam, can do a lot more.

Their product is called Simpana and their trick is to have a single code base for integrating the backup and information management so you only need to store one deduplicated copy to be able to do a whole lot with it. This data repository is called the Content Store. Obviously backups need multiple copies to be spread around for protection and you can do that.

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Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: StorMagic

January 8th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 4 is happening in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post: Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview.

 

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StorMagic has an interesting product called SvSAN which is a SAN specifically designed for remote offices which require local IT infrastructure that can’t be delivered remotely. StorMagic has previously presented at Storage Field Day 6.

Many companies need to run critical applications at what StorMagic call edge sites yet still require high availability. Think retail with PoS everywhere, manufacturing with numerous distributed sites, oil rigs, ships, manufacturing, in fact any company with a distributed geographic footprint. SvSAN can be managed centrally at scale with typically 10-10000 edge sites.

Their software runs as a VSA on vSphere or Hyper-V using local disks and can be clustered with synchronous mirroring using as little as two hosts to provide shared storage to VMs giving them HA/vMotion. You can also use it with stretched clusters. It presents an iSCSI LUN to the hypervisor and can use SSD for cache and target it to particular workloads.

Centralised management is at the cornerstone of StorMagic which you would need for the scale they support. You can deploy SvSAN across multiple sites fairly easily and quickly. The nodes can then continue to be easily managed centrally so you don’t need any local IT staff.

StorMagic doesn’t look like its going to take over the world but it has a solid use case along with a market opportunity and is price competitive. I think it needs some sort of snapshotting and could benefit from a way to replicate data back to head office for backup with some clever deduping. Interested to hear what they have to say.

Gestalt IT is paying for travel, accommodation and things to eat to attend Virtualisation Field Day but aren’t paying a penny for me to write anything good or bad about anyone.

Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: VMTurbo

January 8th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 4 is happening in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post: Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview.

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VMTurbo presented at the last Virtualisation Field Day 3 with an update at the VMworld SFO compact edition so the Tech Field Day community know what they are about.

VMTurbo has an application called Operations Manager (bland name IMO). VM management is a very crowded market even harder to penetrate when vendors have their own offerings (VMware with vRealize Ops previously VCOPS and Microsoft with SCOM).

VMTurbo differentiates itself with an interesting take by modelling your data center as an economic market. VMs need resources and can be thought of as buyers of what they need be it CPU, RAM, IO, latency etc. Your infrastructure is the seller offering up goods to satisfy the sellers. This means everything can be associated with a price and can use the economic laws of supply and demand to set prices. As resources are more utilised and become scarce, their price goes up for the VMs so they should shop around for a better price where there is more supply capacity and therefore lower prices. This economic model allows VMTurbo to solve the problem of where to run VMs. This also translates directly into reporting on cost/benefits and an opportunity cost framework that seems very interesting.

Now economics are incredibly complex, just ask the financial wizards to despite thinking they knew everything let the market crash beneath them.

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Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: Platform9

January 8th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 4 is happening in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post: Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview.

 

Platform9 is new to Tech Field Day so we welcome them to VFD4 and they only came out of stealth 6 months ago. OpenStack’s issues are complexity and divergence and Platform9 intends to fix that with a cloud management model. You simply pull your hypervisors into Platform9 running as a 100% SaaS application.

Remember, OpenStack isn’t in itself a hypervisor, you have to provide your own (KVM or coming soon vSphere) but install an agent on your hosts and connect them into Platform9 and you have your OpenStack private cloud management done from the public cloud and set up in minutes.

Sure people are going to say that there are security and availability concerns but I bet VMware’s long term plans for the new vRealize Air is vSphere management from the cloud, Citrix has already announced it will be doing XenDesktop/XenApp management from the cloud and Microsoft is hinting the same thing. VM data won’t be transferring the bad old internet, just VM metadata over a secure connection so it’s not necessarily all security panic stations.

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Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: Scale Computing

January 8th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 4 is happening in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post: Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview.

 

Scale Computing has presented previously at Storage Field Day 5, this is their 1st Virtualisation Field Day but they must be keen to get their message out as they’ve already signed up for Virtualisation Field Day 5.

Scale Computing is another member of the hyper-converged space along with Nutanix, SimpliVity and VMware’s EVO:RAIL. They have been shipping hyper-converged as long as SimpliVity but are less well known. Their management provenance is from Avamar (now EMC), Double-Take, Seagate, Veritas and Corvigo.

The writing is on the wall that converged and hyper-converged will be the only way you purchase infrastructure in the future. Why waste time rolling your own? There is therefore plenty of opportunity for a massive market. Scale Computing started life as a scale-out storage platform and then added compute.

Scale Computing has a hyper-converged appliance called HC3 running on KVM so offering an alternative to the behemoth that is VMware and Microsoft. The HC3 name comes from Hyper-Converged 3 (being 1:servers, 2:storage and 3:virtualisation). Their marketing is all about reducing cost and simplifying virtualisation complexity and is ideal for those who haven’t adopted virtualisation due to cost and complexity or are looking for a new alternative and reduced cost. They generally target SMB size workloads but this can still grow fairly large.

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Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: SimpliVity

January 8th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 4 is happening in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post: Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview.

SimpliVity is a just over two year old shipping hyper-converged infrastructure vendor who is making great strides in a very hot market segment. Simplivity are presenting for the 1st time at Virtualisation Field Day. They compete against the fierce marketers and Dell buddies Nutanix and have recently partnered up with Cisco which gives them more enterprise clout and a huge partner network.

Their unique selling point is a fantastic data reduction and replication engine along with global management. Data is compressed and deduped at ingestion and can be replicated still reduced very efficiently to other instances. If you have to move VM disk files around multiple offices, across the globe or backup to the cloud with AWS, SimpliVity is a great choice. They only support vSphere at the moment as their management is via a plug-in to vCenter which isn’t as easy to port to other hypervisors. They have mentioned KVM with OpenStack and Hyper-V are coming sometime so perhaps they have some news to share at VFD4.

SimpliVity has traditionally used Dell servers under their logo which makes for a complicated relationship since Dell is now in bed with Nutanix so I wonder if there are hardware changes afoot. SimpliVity is composed of two parts, the SimpliVity software along with a PCI-E hardware card which does all the clever deduping in real time reducing the IOPS that need to be sent to storage and allowing that clever and efficient global replication. This makes them not an entirely software solution which the SDDC purists will knock down but with advances in CPU processing perhaps this hardware reliance will be removed which would open up their options.

Their tie-up with Cisco is very interesting. SimpliVity on UCS is only just over 6 weeks old. Cisco has not come out with an EVO:Rail version so must be looking to SimpliVity to provide their hyper-converged solution with UCS rack mounted hardware they need alongside their converged UCS blade based Vblocks and FlexPods. UCS has done incredibly well which is good news for SimpliVity.

Cisco gives them a massive sales force into very closed ecosystem enterprises but I would presume be pushing for Hyper-V and KVM/OpenStack support seeing Vblocks are now an EMC thing with much closer ties to VMware.

Gestalt IT is paying for travel, accommodation and things to eat to attend Virtualisation Field Day but aren’t paying a penny for me to write anything good or bad about anyone.

Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: Dell

January 8th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 4 is happening in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post: Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview.

image The big daddy, Dell, headquartered in Austin is a 1st time Virtualisation Field Day presenter although has presented previously at Networking Field Day 7, Tech Field Day 9, Storage Field Day 1, and Tech Field Day 7.

Dell is the strappy direct selling IT upstart that became a big enterprise hardware and software vendor and is hugely interesting at the moment. First of all, it has just been through its 1st year of being a private company. No more public shareholders to pester it, it can make all its decisions in private with no financial disclosure. I’d love to find out how Dell has changed because of this. Has it become nimbler and agile and able to turn itself around or is it in fact hiding its hasty decline from public view? I’m pretty sure we’re not going to get entirely forthcoming answers to this but I’d seriously love to know how going private has changed Dell.

Dell has an interesting history as they’ve been on a large acquisition and partnership spree over the past few years to fill out their portfolio of hardware and software as they don’t have the long enterprise history of the likes of HP, IBM or EMC. In fact you may be surprised at the breadth of their product portfolio. They bought Exalogic and Compellent to build a storage division and have recently partnered with Nutanix as well as announcing their own EVO:RAIL product. Are they ensuring they can be a one-stop storage shop so their customers don’t have to go anywhere else ala EMC? Can they successfully explain and sell through the inevitable product overlap? Does the deal with Nutanix or VMware EVO:RAIL make them more money?

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Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview

January 8th, 2015 No comments

VFD LogoI am very honoured and hugely excited to have been invited to the legendary Virtualisation Field Day, being run by Stephen Foskett and Tom Hollingsworth as part of their Tech Field Day series of events.

I’ve been following Tech Field day events since they started and to be invited as a delegate for Virtualisation Field Day 4, #VFD4, is fantastic.

What a cool list of delegates I’ll be joining: Amit Panchal, Amy Manley, Christopher Kusek, Emad Younis, James Green, Jeff Wilson, Justin Warren, Larry Smith, Marco Broeken, Matt Simmons, Mike Preston. I’ve met a number of them before so will be happy to reconnect and meet some more amazing people in person finally.

VFD4 is in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January, that’s next week and being Austin is meant to be warm and sunny! It should have been a welcome break from cold and dark London but seems the weather currently forecast for next week will be only a few degrees warmer! Can’t complain though as some of the rest of the USA is well below freezing.

Tech Field Day events are structured so a bunch of companies within a particular IT sphere (virtualisation obviously for VFD4) present on whatever they have to say to a group of what are called delegates who get to ask questions.

What sets Tech Field Day apart from being just another presentation is that they are streamed live. This isn’t a closed door, behind the curtain, please stay beyond the cordon while we polish and perfect everything for your consumption event. What we hear is what you will hear if you watch the stream. I therefore see my participation as a delegate as two fold. Obviously being there I can interact directly and ask any questions or ask for clarification but in my opinion even more importantly can act as a proxy for everyone else who can’t physically be there and so can have a chance to be involved pretty much as if you were there and ask questions via the delegates. The conversation will be happening on Twitter with the #VFD4 hash tag. If you don’t want to publicly ask your question, feel free to DM me or send an email and I’ll ask your question.

I’ve been having a look at the companies presenting so here are some of my thoughts, presentation times are local to Austin.

Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: SimpliVity Wednesday, Jan 14 09:30 – 11:30
Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: Platform9 Wednesday, Jan 14 13:00 – 15:00
Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: VMTurbo Wednesday, Jan 14 15:30 – 17:30
Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: StorMagic Thursday, Jan 15 08:00 – 10:00
Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: SolarWinds Thursday, Jan 15 10:30 – 12:30
Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: CommVault Thursday, Jan 15 13:30 – 15:30
Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: Dell Friday, Jan 16 08:00 – 12:00
Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: Scale Computing Friday, Jan 16 13:00 – 15:00

There’s going to be a lot to learn and discuss next week so I’m very much looking forward to being part of something amazing.

Gestalt IT is paying for travel, accommodation and things to eat to attend Virtualisation Field Day but aren’t paying a penny for me to write anything good or bad about anyone.