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5 ways COVID-19 changed the data storage market

The past few months have forced the normally conservative data storage world to make on-the-spot adjustments to the ways people buy and use storage.

Recent earnings reports from leading storage companies provided a look at how they adapted to the changes. While they experienced mixed results, clear buying patterns and industry changes emerged in the data storage market. Storage leaders expect many of the changes will remain in place, even after the COVID-19 threat subsides.

The recent earnings calls showed some trends accelerated — such as a move from large data center arrays to hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) and the cloud, and a shift from Capex to Opex spending. It also forced new selling strategies as face-to-face sales calls and conferences gave way to virtual events and virtual meetings between buyers and sellers working remotely.

One major storage CEO even experienced COVID-19 personally.

“I contracted COVID-19 in mid-March,” Pure Storage CEO Charlie Giancarlo said last week on the company’s earnings call. “And that experience has provided me with a deep personal appreciation for this virus and its impact. The changes in people’s lives and livelihoods are truly extraordinary. And our expectations of what is or will be normal are forever changed. Every day, each new report on the crisis brings an uneasy mixture of anxiety, uncertainty and hope about the future.”

Charles Giancarlo, CEO, Pure StorageCharlie Giancarlo

Storage vendors confronted this new normal over the last few months, with their business prospects also filled with uncertainty. Pure came out of it better than its larger direct competitors Dell EMC, NetApp and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Still, it joined Dell and HPE in declining to give a forecast for this quarter because of uncertainty. NetApp did not give a long-term forecast but predicts a 6% revenue drop this quarter.

The following are some ways the data storage market changed during the first quarter of COVID-19:

Arrays give way to cloud, HCI

Flash array vendor Pure’s revenues increased 12% over last year, to $367 million. Other array vendors didn’t fare so well, while HCI and services revenue grew as organizations shifted to remote work and bought storage remotely.

Dell EMC’s storage revenue fell 5% to $3.8 billion, while its Infrastructure Solutions Group fell 8% overall (servers and networking dropped 10%). But while storage, servers and networking dipped, Dell reported double-digit growth in its VxRail HCI platform that combines those IT infrastructure tiers.

NetApp revenue dropped 12% to $1.4 billion, including a 21% decline in product revenue. NetApp all-flash array revenue of $656 million dropped 3% since last year, while cloud data services of $111 million more than doubled. NetApp claims it has more than 3,500 cloud data services customers.

NetApp CEO George KurianGeorge Kurian

“I would tell you that as we think about the go-forward strategic roadmap, it’s much more tied to software and cloud services,” NetApp CEO George Kurian said.

HPE storage revenues declined 16% since last year.

Hyper-converged infrastructure specialist Nutanix reported an 11% revenue increase to $318.3 million. Dell-owned VMware also reported revenue from its vSAN HCI software increased more than 20%, as did its NSX software-defined networking product.

VDI encore

It’s no surprise that the VDI expansion would lead to HCI sales, because VDI was among the first common use cases for hyper-convergence. One change since the early days of HCI is that now many of those desktops are sold as a cloud service.

Nutanix CEO Dheeraj PandeyDheeraj Pandey

Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey said the increase for VDI and desktop as a service (DaaS) in March and April “brought us back to our roots, when a much larger piece of our business supported virtual desktop workloads.”

VDI also helped flash storage catch on, as a way to deal with boot storms and peak periods required for heavy volume of virtual desktops. Not all flash vendors benefited last quarter, but Pure did.

“Certainly, VDI was one of the major use cases out there,” Pure’s Giancarlo said.

In May, NetApp acquired VDI and DaaS startup CloudJumper to address that market.

Who’s buying? And how?

COVID-19’s impact on storage buying was far from uniform. The pandemic left some industries financially devastated, while others had to expand to keep up.

Dell COO Jeff Clarke said Dell saw demand drop among SMBs and industries such as retail, manufacturing, energy and transportation. But financial services, government, healthcare and life sciences increased spending.

Kurian said NetApp also saw an increase in healthcare spending, driven by the pandemic and a need for digital imaging.

Organizations spending on storage are increasingly going to a utility model, buying storage as a service. Pure’s subscription services jumped 37% year over year to $120 million, making up one-third of its overall revenue.

“What we saw in Q1 was that the urgency was to beef up what they currently had in, and that was largely on prem,” Giancarlo said. “But they wanted the option, they didn’t want to sign on to five years of more on prem or anything along those lines. They wanted the option of being able to move to the cloud at any point in time. And that’s exactly what our Pure as-a-Service is designed to do in several respects.”

While Dell’s overall revenue was flat from last year, its recurring revenue increased 16%, to around $6 billion. That recurring revenue includes utility and as-a-service pricing.

“We have a very, very modern way to consume and digest IT with the very best products in the marketplace,” Clarke said.

Virtualized sales become common

Remote work has changed the way vendors and customers interact. Like with user conferences, sales calls have become a virtual experience.

“Our teams had to be nimble and quickly embrace a new sales motion,” Dell’s Clarke said. “We successfully pivoted to all virtual engagements with hundreds of thousands of virtual customer interactions in the quarter.”

Clarke said there has been no negative impact, as he and his sales team can meet with more customers than in the past.

Nutanix, which shifted its 2020 .NEXT user conference to a virtual event and pushed it until Sept. 8, has also moved in-person regional shows and boot camps online. Pandey said Nutanix has seen no drop-off in qualified leads for its sales team from going virtual.

“We have gone completely virtual and are seeing comparable yield in terms of qualified leads and virtual meetings for our sales organization at less than half the cost,” he said.

Cost-saving: Furloughs, pay cuts, hiring freezes

Unsure of what the immediate future will look like, IT companies are enacting cost reduction plans and realigning their teams.

Dell is implementing a global hiring freeze, reduction in consulting and contractor costs, global travel restrictions and a suspension of its 401(k) match plan.

HPE said it would enact pay cuts across the board, with the executive team taking the biggest reductions. CEO Antonio Neri also said HPE would reduce and realign the workforce as part of a cost reduction plan save more than $1 billion over three years.

Nutanix implemented two nonconsecutive weeks of furloughs for a quarter of its employees and cut executive team members’ salaries by 10%.

Not all the vendors are reducing staff yet, though. NetApp CEO Kurian said the company reached its target goal of adding 200 primary sales reps, a quarter ahead of schedule.

Pure Storage’s Giancarlo said it’s his “personal mission” to avoid layoffs or furloughs through the rest of 2020, although the company did have layoffs — which he called a “rebalancing” — before COVID-19 hit. “We believe we’re going to be able to perform in such a way that we will not have layoffs or furloughs,” he said.

Despite the changes to the data storage market, one constant is data is growing in volume and important in business around the world.

“While we cannot predict when the world will return to normal, the enduring importance of data is clear,” Kurian said.

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For Sale – Asrock H67M-GE mobo, Intel i5 2500T, Kingston 8Gb DDR3 Ram

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Wanted – Computer speakers 3.5mm wanted

Hey looking for some computer speakers. (2 speakers, ideally no subwoofer) Not looking to spend to much but they must look nice and perform reasonably. I remember seeing a pair of creative labs speakers a few months back that peaked my interest but I sat on it for too long.



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Wanted – Ryzen Setup (CPU / MB / RAM) & NVIDIA GPU

Europe’s busiest forums, with independent news and expert reviews, for TVs, Home Cinema, Hi-Fi, Movies, Gaming, Tech and more. is owned and operated by M2N Limited,
company number 03997482, registered in England and Wales.

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This website uses the TMDb API but is not endorsed or certified by TMDb.

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For Sale – NEC LAVIE HZ550G TOUCH LAPTOP-WIn 10 Home-4GB-256GB-Intel Core [email protected] – Lightest Laptop made 835g

Make – NEC x Lenovo

Model – Lavie HZ550G

Colour – Silver

Screen Size – 13.3″

Keyboard layout – US Qwerty plus Japanese

Processor – Intel Core i5-7200U @ 2.50GHz


Hard Drive – 256GB SSD

Graphics Card – Intel HD Graphics 620

Screen Resolution – 1920*1080

Operating System – Windows 10 Home

835g weight

Comes with UK Lenovo charger , since NEC is part of Lenovo.


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12 Microsoft 365 security best practices to secure the suite

Part one of this two-part series on Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) security weaknesses examined some of main misconfigurations that cause problems when trying to securely operate or migrate to the cloud-based Microsoft 365 suite of services. While knowing the challenges is half the battle, what about addressing those challenges? Based on our work with clients, our research data and a review of available information, Nemertes recommends the following 12 best practices to secure Microsoft 365.

  1. Implement a Microsoft 365 cybersecurity task force. To address known concerns with Microsoft 365, we recommend enterprises form a cybersecurity team focused specifically on Microsoft 365 cybersecurity. This team should be responsible for the following:
  • educating itself on the known issues;
  • recommending remediations and best practices;
  • developing a security-based project plan for the Microsoft 365 migration;
  • working directly with any third-party providers to ensure migration and implementation align with best practices; and
  • working directly with Microsoft’s technical experts if issues arise.
  1. Review Microsoft documentation. Microsoft has an extensive library that grows daily, documenting security vulnerabilities — particularly those related to configuration issues. As a regular practice, the task force should review the library. Earlier this year, for example, Microsoft added a recommendation to the repository that businesses should use Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) to validate and authenticate mail servers to ensure destination email systems trust messages sent from company domains to help companies fortify their systems.

    Using DMARC with Sender Policy Framework (SFP) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) provides additional protection against spoofing and phishing emails. The library has hundreds of recommendations like this. As a result, the task force should familiarize itself with the library’s documentation and, as a regular practice, continue reviewing the library on a regular basis.

  1. Enable and use DMARC, SPF and DKIM. When used together, these three protocols dramatically reduce the risk of spoofing and phishing. Use Microsoft Exchange as your email service provider in this configuration.
  2. Enable multifactor authentication (MFA) by default, at the very least for administrator accounts and, ideally, for all accounts. The May 2019 U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) report noted that MFA for administrator accounts isn’t enabled by default, yet Azure Active Directory (AD) global administrators in a Microsoft 365 environment have the highest level of administrator privileges at the tenant level. Modifying this configuration to require administrator MFA is a huge step toward ensuring security.
  3. Enable mailbox auditing by default. The CISA report also revealed Microsoft didn’t enable auditing by default in Microsoft 365 prior to January 2019. The Microsoft 365 task force should ensure this step is enabled by default.
  4. Determine if password sync is required. By default, Azure AD Connect integrates on-premises environments with Azure AD when customers migrate to Microsoft 365. In this scenario, the on-premises password overwrites the password in Azure AD. Therefore, if the on-premises AD identity is compromised, then an attacker could move laterally to the cloud when the sync occurs. If password sync is required, the team should carefully think through the implications of a premises-based attack on cloud systems, or vice versa.
  5. Move away from legacy protocols. Several protocols, including Post Office Protocol 3 and Internet Mail Access Protocol 4, don’t effectively support authentication methods such as MFA. CISA recommended moving away from all legacy protocols.
  6. Upgrade all software and OSes prior to migration. Earlier versions of Microsoft software, such as Office 2007, have known security vulnerabilities and weaker protection thresholds. Upgrade all software to current versions prior to migrating to Microsoft 365.
  7. Test all third-party applications before integrating them into Microsoft 365. If you are using Microsoft 365 in conjunction with third-party applications — developed in-house or by outside companies — be sure you conduct solid cybersecurity testing before integrating them with Microsoft 365.
  8. Develop and implement a backup and business continuity plan. Many organizations wrongly assume that, because Microsoft 365 is cloud-based, it is automatically backed up. That’s not the case; Microsoft uses replication rather than traditional data backup methods. As a result, it can’t guarantee an organization’s files will remain available if files are compromised through ransomware or accidental deletion.
  9. Implement cloud-based single sign-on (SSO). Known vulnerabilities in Microsoft 365’s security protocols involve using cross-domain authentication to bypass federated domains. The best approach to mitigating these issues is to deploy SSO as a service from a provider such as identity and access management company Okta or identity security company Ping Identity.
  10. Assess your Microsoft Secure Score and Compliance Score. Microsoft has developed two registries for Microsoft 365: Secure Score and Compliance Score. These registries list hundreds of steps customers should take to improve their overall scores and include a way to indicate whether they’ve done it, not done it yet or accept the risk. Secure Score is aimed at traditional security, such as “Did you enable MFA?” Compliance Score offers a general assessment, as well as regulation-specific assessments, such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act.

Microsoft 365 security effort requires focus

In summary, Microsoft 365 is peppered with cybersecurity vulnerabilities, in its architecture and design and in the default configuration. The known vulnerabilities and best practices discussed here are just a start. What’s more important is that enterprise technology pros maintain a focused and ongoing cybersecurity effort to protect their environments.

Organizations are facing a lot of pressure to migrate to Microsoft 365. Nemertes believes the platform’s cybersecurity challenges can be overcome with effort and attention. In particular, it is vital to have a Microsoft 365 cybersecurity task force. This is not an optional component of any migration to Microsoft 365. That means companies need to consider the cost and effort involved in creating and maintaining an ongoing Microsoft 365 task force when computing the ROI of migrating to the platform. If the perceived benefit of agility and a cloud-based environment exceeds the cost of maintaining a focused internal group, a move to Microsoft 365 is warranted.

This was last published in June 2020

Dig Deeper on Email and messaging threats

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New SoftIron management tool targets Ceph storage complexity

Startup SoftIron released a new HyperDrive Storage Manager tool that aims to make open source Ceph software-defined storage, and the hardware it runs on, easier to use.

London-based SoftIron designs, builds and assembles dedicated HyperDrive appliances for Ceph software-defined storage at its manufacturing facility in Newark, Calif. Now SoftIron has developed a tool to assist system administrators in managing the software and hardware in their Ceph storage clusters.

“We’re integrating it in the way that you would normally only see in a proprietary vendor’s storage,” said Andrew Moloney, SoftIron’s vice president of strategy.

Moloney said the new HyperDrive Storage Manager could automatically discover and deploy new nodes without the user having to resort to the command-line interface. If a drive goes down, the graphical user interface can pinpoint the physical location, and users can see a flashing light next to the drive in the appliance. HyperDrive Storage Manager also can lock out multiple administrators to prevent conflicting commands, Moloney said.

“Many of those things have not been addressed and can’t be addressed if you’re not looking at the hardware and the software as one entity,” Moloney said.

Enrico Signoretti, a research analyst at GigaOm, said one of the biggest problems with Ceph is complexity. The optimized SoftIron software/hardware stack and improved graphical user interface should help to lower the barrier for enterprises to adopt Ceph, Signoretti said.

SoftIron HyperDrive
SoftIron’s HyperDrive Storage Manager tool aims to ease the management of open source Ceph storage.

SoftIron started shipping its ARM-based HyperDrive appliances for Ceph about a year ago. Appliances are available in all-flash, all-disk and hybrid configurations. The most popular model is the 120 TB HyperDrive Density Storage Node with spinning disks and solid-state drives, according to Moloney. He said the average deployment is about 1 PB.

SoftIron has about 20 customers using HyperDrive in areas such as high-performance computing, analytics and data-intensive research projects. Customers include the University of Minnesota’s Supercomputing Institute, the University of Kentucky, national laboratories, government departments, and financial service firms, Moloney said.

SoftIron’s competition includes Ambedded Technology, a Taiwanese company that also makes an ARM-based Ceph Storage Appliance, as well as Red Hat and SUSE, which both offer supported versions of Ceph and tested third-party server hardware options.

Dennis Hahn, principal storage analyst at Omdia, said Red Hat and SUSE tend to focus on enterprise and traditional data centers, and SoftIron could find opportunities with smaller data centers and edge deployments for use cases such as retail, healthcare and industrial automation, with sensors gathering data.

Hahn said customers often look for lower-cost storage with edge use cases, and SoftIron’s HyperDrive appliances could play well there, with its AMD’s ARM processors that generally cost less than Intel’s x86.

Moloney said that Ceph can be “quite hardware sensitive” for anyone trying to get the best performance out of it. Citing an example, he said that SoftIron found it could optimize I/O and dramatically improve performance with an ARM64 processor by directly attaching all 14 storage drives. Moloney said that SoftIron also saw that using an SSD just for journaling and spinning media for storage could boost performance at the “right price point.”

Those who assume that software-defined data center technologies — whether storage, network or compute — can run great on “any kind of vanilla hardware” will be disappointed, Moloney said.

“In reality, there are big sacrifices that you make when you decide to do that, especially in open source, when you think about performance and efficiency and scalability,” Moloney said. “Our mission and our vision is about redefining that software-defined data center. The way we believe to do that is to run open source on what we call task-specific appliances.”

In addition HyperDrive storage, SoftIron plans to release a top-of-rack HyperSwitch, based on the open source SONiC network operating system, and a HyperCast transcoding appliance, using open source FFmpeg software for audio and video processing, within the next three months. Moloney said SoftIron is now “hitting the gas” and moving into an expansion phase since receiving $34 million in Series B funding in March, when he joined the company.

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Wanted – Macbook Pro 2019/2020 13” full spec? – Long Shot!

Presume you’re looking for a MacBook Pro? At the end of June I will have for sale a 2018 Quad-Core 2.3 i5, 8GB RAM, 512 GB storage if you’re interested and could wait until then. A little bit older than you’re looking for but fairly similar to the 2019 spec.

It’s a great machine and has been used to edit documentaries for BBC Two on FCPX, but a new model is on order as it looks like there will be an extended period of working from home. I can’t sell until that arrives however, and Apple currently have given a delivery date of June 29.

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Wanted – iMac 27”, Late 2013

Europe’s busiest forums, with independent news and expert reviews, for TVs, Home Cinema, Hi-Fi, Movies, Gaming, Tech and more. is owned and operated by M2N Limited,
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This website uses the TMDb API but is not endorsed or certified by TMDb.

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Wanted – LGA 1150 Motherboard

I have an MSI mini ITX board (MSI H97 AC) which i am in the process of removing from my small pc.
I have the box and most of the gubbins that came with it.

One of the tabs to remove the RAM is broken but it does not stop the ram being removed or re-seated.
One of the antenna for wifi may be missing – I’ll have to check the other box as I have 2 of these PC’s.
How does £35 inc delivery sound?
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