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HP Techday 2009: The Final Thoughts!

October 2nd, 2009 4 comments

This is my 5th consecutive post on HP TechDay in Colorado Springs.

HP Techday 2009 Updates

HP TechDay 2009 Day 0

HP TechDay 2009 Day 1

HP TechDay 2009 Day 2

Screen shot 2009-10-01 at 8.05.25 PM

HP facilities in Colorado Springs, a Satellite view

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Positives

This event was a very smart move by HP and as far as I can see they have exceeded their expectations with this event. It was truly a fireworks of hash tag #hptechday both Monday and Tuesday which dominated twitter. The after discussions have taken over the blogging, twitter and the Internet press by surprise with the number of twits, blogs and press articles written about this event.

Clearly for me this was a good platform to learn, understand and share some visions and technologies related to HP Storage products. An Event like this helps understand and connect the dots together with future products and emerging technologies.

The R&D and Engineering teams gave us a good background of the inter-workings of the storage technology not necessarily the intra-workings of all technologies messed together. There were some awkward moments, but overall they pulled it together really well. The marketing folks spoke about some strategy related to these technologies and painted an overall picture. The mix of people involved with the presentations and demos seem to accomplish the agenda, where marketing pitches came in with engineering details.

HP really left competition out of all the discussions except for the hands-on lab. No mentions of EMC, NetApp, IBM, Cisco or HDS. The hands-on lab did have an exercise on NetApp FAS2050C and an EMC Clariion CX4-120 for LUN provisioning purposes in comparison to LUN provisioning on HP EVA’s. It was a positive strategy from HP, not to compare their products to that of EMC, NetApp and others.

A lot of discussions revolved around Virtualization related to VMware, Xen and Hyper-V, but HP made it clear they were VMware’s largest revenue producing partner and would like to remain so.

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Challenges

Platforms like EVA, SVSP, Lefthand, IBRIX and D2D were discussed. Independently every platform looks very interesting and very compelling. But an integration vision was still lacking, a direction or a strategy on how these pieces of puzzle will be joined together to form the common storage platform.  Though HP clearly seems to be making a move towards Converged Data Centers.

HP clearly has a very big competition in the storage market with already proven Vendors and their technologies. EMC, NetApp, IBM, Cisco, VMware in storage, networking and Converged Data Centers. Also technologies that are strong and emerging would largely cause market nuisance or focus disruption for HP.

One of the biggest problems I saw was, HP has these segments of storage and technology, rather not a unified vision, or didn’t come across as one. There are pouches of storage like EVA teams, SVSP teams, Lefthand teams and so forth, not sure if there is technology sharing and again a moved towards integrating all these technologies to form a unified storage platform. Though Proliant is the chosen platform for all Lefthand and Converged Data Center products.

HP still needs a very strong storage technology in the Enterprise space that is there own and not OEM’d. The truth is, eventually the HP – Hitachi relationship has to come to an end with HP’s new product that may compete in the same market space. This strategy will enable HP to be very unique in terms of the markets they serve, which may include their own inhouse storage products for SMB, Midsize and Enterprise customers.

So other lacking things from HP were the Cloud Strategy (if they ever plan to enter that space), Unified Storage details, FCoE discussions, Procurve, Deduplication platform discussions, IBRIX technology integration details, Storage Management, Storage Optimization and XP.

It may have been very hard to cover all these platforms in a day and a half with giving all the technology details behind it. Also remember this was an NON NDA session, so we were not preview to all the future products and technologies.

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Summary

Overall HP did hammer us for 2 consecutive days with HP Storage Technology. Coming out of it, I can truly say I didn’t realize HP had so much focus on Storage. Their move to hire Dave Donatelli was a smart one and hope over the next year as the Storage business moves under him; he will insert some new strategic direction.

So HP was the first OEM to arrange the HP Techday and make it open to Bloggers as an Invite Only Event. The ratio of Bloggers to HP Personnel was 1:2, giving everyone a lot of attention.

Now the question is who will be next OEM to do a similar event and what will they do to prove themselves different. Already hearing some buzz in the industry about some the effects of HP Techday and some possible events from other OEMs.

But I clearly see an advantage of an event like this and the after effects of it, Good move HP Storage – Marketing Team!

HP TechDay 2009 Day 1: HP StorageWorks Technology

September 30th, 2009 4 comments

Colorado Springs is a great small town, surrounded by snow covered mountains, an a US Airforce Academy in town. Colorado Springs is also the home of the HP StorageWorks platform R&D center.

Pic 1 Colorado Springs Purple Majestic
A view of mountains from the Hotel room, the purple majestic as it’s called.

The HP Techday kicked off at around 8 AM on Monday morning with Breakfast and then a Welcome session following it.

The understandable goals HP has with this event is to promote HP products, technology and strategy with industry bloggers, which could further create a wave of discussion about HP products in the Twitter / Blogging community.

There were 11 Industry Bloggers and around 20 HP folks including Marketing, CTO’s office, R&D team and Storage Architects.

A few pictures from the Technology Session Rooms

Pic 2 Sessions

Technology Session Rooms

Pic 3 Nigel Poulton

Our friend “Nigel Poulton” – Ruptured Monkey

I will try to leave the focus of this blog post to the overview of the events at the HP Tech Day. It will be impossible to jump into all the related technologies in this post, but over the next month, please stay tuned on some technical talk around StorageWorks platform.

To read about HP Techday 2009 Day 0, click here

To read about HP Techday 2009 Updates, click here

The first technology session started at around 10:00 AM with a deep dive into the HP EVA platform. Lots of questions were asked by all of us related to this technology, the vision, the strategy and market competition. This was an NON NDA session, there were no talks about futures.

This session was presented by Kyle Fitze, Don Fraser and Ted Bruning.

Pic 4 Array Virtualization EVA

Picture of Array level virtualization with EVA platform

As part of the Enterprise Storage Virtualization, HP presented on the SVSP (SAN Virtualization Services Platform): honestly I didn’t even realize HP had this platform, but this technology somewhat compares with HDS’s USP-VM (diskless storage) for a mid tier market.  This session was very interesting.

Pic 6 Storage Virtualization

Slide showing the benefits of Storage Virtualization with the HP Platforms.

Around 11:30 AM, the Lefthand Team jumped in with the presentation. The purchase of Lefthand was done by HP back in Oct / Nov 2008. Seems the vision HP has today is to integrate HP Lefthand products with their next gen storage architecture.

The CTO and founder of Lefthand, John Spiers did the presentation. Believe it or not, he still has the same passion for the product and the value it brings to the market. Great session.

Broke out for lunch.

This was one of those times, when we had free access to all HP teams to talk about products, technology etc.

Then started the 3 hour-long sessions on HP EVA’s, SVSP and Lefthand.

So there were 3 systems for the bloggers to provision LUN along with a snapshot on EMC Clariion CX4, NetApp FAS system and HP EVA. The point of this session was to show the ease of use with HP EVA storage related functions.

Though I am not going to discuss any technology related items now, there were some discoveries I would like to talk on the blog later.

Pic 7 Robin Harris

Robin Harris configuring a CX4-120

Pic 8 NetApp LUN Provision

LUN Provisioning on NETAPP FAS2050c system

Pic 9 John Nina SImon configuring EVA

John, Nina and Simon configuring an EVA

The lefthand hands on session was great, went through the entire lab exercise to create clusters, create LUNs, present to host and perform failovers.

SVSP session was another great session, where we got some hands-on experience with configuring a SVSP and presenting LUNs to and from it to host.

We then got a tour of the HP EVA development labs in Colorado Springs, though we were not allowed to take pictures in this lab. There were surely sections of the lab, where we were not allowed.

Next session kicked off was around Unified Storage Platforms at HP. Though this was one of those sessions, where a lot of technology details were not given out, again I would think because it’s a NON NDA session. But its great to see how HP is jumping into the Unified Storage Vision as other Storage manufacturers are. This session was presented by Lee Johns the Director of Unified Storage Division at HP.

Pic 10 Unified Storage

Unified Storage at HP

Pic 11 Lee Johns on Unified Storage

Lee Johns presenting Unified Storage

Pic 12 Unified Storage Vision

Unified Storage Vision

The next session was on Data Deduplication. Quite interesting stuff happening at HP related to data Deduplication. Some slides as shared below. Also some discussions around HP’s self developed dedupe engine and the joint development of another dedupe engine with Sepaton.

Pic 13 Data Deduplication

Slide on Data Deduplication

The day comes to an end, but the networking day begins now.

Here are some key things we brought back from HP including Lefthand SANiQ free full-featured version, SVSP Interface configuration Software.

Pic 14 SVSP LeftHand StorageNerve Devang

Picture of some good things to take home and configure on test systems

Went out to dinner with all the Bloggers and HP folks at the Marigold Café and Bakery in Colorado Springs. The food was awesome, great entrees and desserts. Though being a Vegetarian, I had some good foods selections there.

During dinner had some discussions with Simon Seagrave related to his blog and how he has been able to generate thousands of visits a day. Check out his blog!! A very nice design and great information that he provides related to Virtualization.

Had some discussions with Stephen Foskett and Rich Brambley on GestaltIT and some new things we are working on.

Long discussions with George Wagner of HP Lefthand Networks about Lefthand technology.

Had an hour-long discussion on Unified Storage with Lee Johns. This guy is a smart marketing dude, really was a very valuable conversation with him.

The one thing I love about these tech days is, the undivided attention you get may be for  30 mins or 60 mins or more, to pick someone’s brain, hammer them with questions and understand the strategy.

Earlier in the day met up with Robin Harris for the first time. It was great to see an industry expert and talk to him about his visions, his involvement with the storage industry over all these years.

Also had some great discussions with Tom and Halley from Ivy Marketing that organized this entire event.

Discussions around Storage industry continued with Stephen Foskett, Greg Knieriemen and Calvin Zito at the Bar.

So some very important folks that organized this entire event are

Halley Bass: She’s done an amazing job to get everyone in and out of Colorado Springs, event management, our interface for this entire event, she deserves a big thank you from the team.

Terri Stratton: She wasn’t at the event, but all the reservations and other things were taken care by her.

Tom Augenthaler: He organized the entire event and verified all went smoothly both from an IVY Marketing and HP standpoint.

Finally from HP

Becca Taylor: She is the TSG Social Media Manager at HP and it was her event from an HP standpoint. Just amazing co-ordination of all things to make it a success.

Kathleen Moore: Kathleen verified the entire event went flawless all the way

Calvin Zito: Calvin was a big orchestrator of this event

So there are some things we didn’t hear about today, which we expect to hear tomorrow:

Networking technology

Unified Storage details

Converged Data Centers

XP’s

The NetApp CEO Succession: Tom Georgens succeeds Dan Warmenhoven

August 20th, 2009 No comments

Another day for NetApp in the headlines, this afternoon the news hit the wire that the current CEO of NetApp (Dan Warmenhoven) is retiring and Tom Georgens will be taking his position. Dave Hitz’s blog post broke the news to the world at around 4:30 PM.

Dave quotes: “Today Dan Warmenhoven, our previous CEO, announced that Tom Georgens is our new CEO. Dan will continue as Chairman of the Board, and he will also have a new role, reporting to Tom, focusing on relationships with major partners. His title is Executive Chairman since he’s an executive of the company as well as a board member.”

I really like how Dave Hitz begins his blog; unfortunately the last year has been a losing battle for Dan Warmenhoven, though Dan had a great track record of bringing NetApp from 50 employees to 8000 employees during his tenure. Dan has been with NetApp since the very early days and though his succession Tom Georgens was identified several years ago, the timing of this move raises a lot of questions. NetApp also declared their quarterly numbers today, which sure indicated a profit growth for the past quarter.

Though it was fully expected that Dan Warmenhoven would retire, it remains to be seen if during his last days as CEO of NetApp whether he had any major differences with the board after the Data Domain battle. Tom Georgens comes with a wealth of information and has worked for companies like EMC, LSI Logic and has created some very strong partnerships with various players in the Data Storage industry, his immediate future direction may remain the same as Dan Warmenhoven. In a long run it still remains to be seen if Tom Georgens and his team would grow the NetApp business independently or stage NetApp to be purchased.

I still have doubts about Dan Warmenhoven retirement announcement at such a time crucial time when the company possibly went through rocky times, Dan’s the vision and leadership grew the business over 15 years to this level and then one afternoon decides to step down with any prior notice to the Storage – Wall Street Community, sounds a bit strange. Dan will still continue to be the Executive Chairman of the board, but we should see his role fade slowly but surely over the next 6 months.

We wish Tom Georgens Goodluck & Success in this new position.

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 7

April 27th, 2009 No comments

TO SUBSCRIBE TO STORAGENERVE BLOG

 

The Technical Case

Continuing the blog posts on Storage Resource Analysis (SRA), this post focuses on the technical case on why analysis of your storage platforms is important and how it might help you discover inconsistencies in storage environments.

 

To read the previous blog posts on Storage Resource Analysis (SRA)

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 1: Storage Resource Analysis and Storage Economics

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 2: The IT – Storage World of 2009

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 3: The IT – Storage Budgets of 2009

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 4: Some Fundamental Questions

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 5: Facts about your Data

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 6: Inconsistencies in Storage Environments

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 7: The Technical Case

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 8: The Business Case

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 9: The End Result

 

From a technology standpoint, it’s very important to understand what Storage Analysis will do and how it might overall bring more value, efficiencies and utilization in your environments. To talk about a few technical issues it might help you understand are..

1)      How much headroom (total possible growth) we have in our storage environment (drilldown array, lun)

2)      How much reclaimable storage do we have in our environment (drilldown array, lun)

3)      How much immediate deployable storage do we have in our storage environment (drilldown where)

4)      Can we predict capacity planning and future growth

5)      The information obtained above should be as of today, not something you started working about 3 months ago.

6)      In large volatile storage environments, things are changing every second, it hard to keep a track of your storage configurations, relationships, headroom, capacity, reclamation.

7)      Are you maintaining spreadsheets or access databases to keep a track of your applications, application owners, wwn, servers, zones, etc. You need to consider something soon.

8 )      Do you enforce Tiering in our environment, how much data do we have based on each tier.

9)      Do we follow ILM approach, how much data needs to be migrated over to different tiers based on business needs and rules (we should see FAST later this year that should automate the process on V-Max)

10)   Do we have any configuration issues in our environments that have caused major storage outages (single path host, multipath host with only one path active, LUN masking issues, zoning issues, BCV issues, other configuration issues)

11)   How many times in the past 6 months have we had a major application outage and what caused it (how much penalties did we pay for those – OPEX dollars).

12)   If we follow any compliance (SEC, Sarbanes Oxley, HIPPA, etc), is our data complaint in terms of replication, policies, etc

13)   Do we have any manual processes for charge backs and bill backs, if so, what can we do to automate it.

14)   Do we know how the LUN’s in our environment are setup and the relationships it has with LUN’s on other arrays in terms of replication, BCV, Snaps, Clones, SRDF, etc.

15)   Do we know how the storage is growing in our environment: Trend Analysis

16)   What sorts of report are available to you for the analysis you are performing.

17)   Be careful to not just obtain a nice topology diagram of what is connected where, but being able to drill down real time to obtain LUN level details is important.

18)   With any storage analysis product, how much work is involved, How much training, How much training related cost, ease of use, number of users, detailed drill down, how easy would it be to analyze your environment, etc needs to be understood before the project starts.

19)   Do we have a Storage Economics Practice setup within our Storage environment to consistently increase our utilization, efficiency, reclamation and lower our outages & cost.

 

Experience

We had a conference call with a potential customer late last week about our storage offerings. This is a large insurance company that has acquired quite a few different companies over the past 5 years and are growing and currently going through data center consolidation projects.

During the call, we asked what they were doing for reclamation and other storage economics. To my surprise, they answered, we had purchased an OEM based Operational Software about 5 years ago and we didn’t like it, there are different people within the organization that still use it, but it’s not giving us the required results we want, more or less its used for alerts.

Now we have just purchased and going through an implementation of another OEM’s Operational Software for data reclamation, analysis and monitoring. The customer goes ahead and says, we have been trying to implement this software within our environment for the past 4 months now.

The point I am trying to make is, whatever these deployments are, they have to be easy enough, cost effective, not time and resource consuming, not consume your CAPEX dollars and not spend you OPEX dollars (training, implementation, outages).

It has to be light weight, easily deployable, should yield results in a short duration of time (hours or days rather than months), but still should be able to analyze your environment at a very detailed level.

 

What are you using today to manage your several hundred TB or an enormously large double digit PB storage estate?