Tag Archives: Enterprise

Android 11 features zero in on security, privacy

New Android 11 features will likely not represent a major shift for the enterprise, but industry observers believe they will help IT professionals better manage mobile devices.

Google released the first developer preview of the updated OS last month, with a final release expected in the third quarter of 2020. Among the changes are a few items — including improved biometric support and limited-time permissions for applications — that experts said would affect businesses.

Eric Klein, an independent analyst, said the improvements reflect Google’s larger efforts to appeal to enterprise customers.

Eric KleinEric Klein

“The way in which they’re approaching their overall strategy as an organization — from Chrome to the cloud and G Suite [productivity applications] — they’re continuing to refine their assets for business use,” he said.

A focus on privacy and security

Android 11, per the preview, includes changes intended to bolster privacy and security. One feature offers users greater control over what applications can do; it lets users — or IT administrators — give apps one-time-only permissions to access such things as location data or a phone’s camera and microphone.

According to Google, this builds on an Android 10 feature, in which users could permit an application to access such data and features, but only while the app was in use.

Andrew HewittAndrew Hewitt

Forrester analyst Andrew Hewitt said the granular data control offered by this feature is in line with modern enterprise security.

“[It] is more philosophically aligned [than before] with a zero-trust strategy — where a user only has access to what they need, and nothing more,” he said.

Klein said the feature will work as part of an overall device management strategy to help prevent bad actors from taking user data.

“There are many ways enterprises are protecting themselves that are well-known, basic security hygiene: restricting application usage, blacklisting apps — things of that nature,” he said, adding that controlling app permissions is a further step along that journey.

Android 11 will also reportedly include greater biometric support, notably by making it easier to integrate biometric authentication into apps and allowing developers to determine which biometric inputs — like fingerprints, iris scans and face scans — they consider strong or weak.

Hewitt said such a feature will interest IT professionals as they look to eliminate passwords — a frequent pain point in ensuring enterprise security.

“While passwordless authentication still remains immature in adoption, it’s certainly on the minds of many mobility management professionals,” he said.

Other effects on the enterprise

While security improvements are an integral part of Android 11, they are not the only ones set to have an impact on companies.

Holger MuellerHolger Mueller

Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said he saw changes like improved 5G support — including a feature that determines whether a device is on a metered or unmetered network and adjusts data traffic accordingly — as new and necessary steps for Android.

The implementation of new messaging and chat “bubbles” — notifications that float on top of other applications and thus enable text conversations while multi-tasking — was taken as a heartening sign for productivity.

“[It’s] good to see Google not giving up on messaging,” he said. “The new messaging will likely improve [the] everyday user experience on Android.”

Hewitt said that with Android 11, Google has implemented new processes and options to ensure OS updates do not break app compatibility. Google announced methods, for example, to help developers test for compatibility by turning changes on or off — making it easier to determine which new OS behavior might pose problems.

“[Compatibility] has been a perennial issue in enterprise mobility,” Hewitt said.

Competing with iOS

Klein said the improvements in Android 11 — especially those related to privacy and security — reflect Google’s desire to compete for the enterprise. He noted Android’s reputation for security has long lagged behind that of iOS.

“There’s a perception that it’s just not secure — that hasn’t gone away yet,” he said. “Many [administrators] will say, ‘I’m not trusting an Android device. I’m not trusting my employees with Android devices.’ That perception is still there, and it’s something Google has to overcome. I think they are overcoming it.”

Google, Klein said, has historically faced criticism for the cadence of its security patches and its reliance on partners to push out those patches. The company has been working to improve that process, he said.

“In order to [compete] effectively — to ensure that peace of mind IT requires for mass rollouts — they’re going to have to … show they’re serious about security and privacy,” he said.

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EG Enterprise v7 focuses on usability, user experience monitoring

Software vendor EG Innovations will release version 7 of its EG Enterprise software, its end-user experience monitoring tool, on Jan. 31.

New features and updates have been added to the IT monitoring software with the goal of making it more user-friendly. The software focuses primarily on monitoring end-user activities and responses.

“Many times, vendor tools monitor their own software stack but do not go end to end,” said Srinivas Ramanathan, CEO of EG Innovations. “Cross-tier, multi-vendor visibility is critical when it comes to monitoring and diagnosing user experience issues. After all, users care about the entire service, which cuts across vendor stacks.”

Ramanathan said IT issues are not as simple as they used to be.

“What you will see in 2020 is now that there is an ability to provide more intelligence to user experience, how do you put that into use?” said Mark Bowker, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. “EG has a challenge of when to engage with a customer. IT’s a value to them if they engage with the customer sooner in an end-user kind of monitoring scenario. In many cases, they get brought in to solve a problem when it’s already happened, and it would be better for them to shift.”

New features in EG Enterprise v7 include:

  • Synthetic and real user experience monitoring: Users can create simulations and scripts of different applications that can be replayed to further help diagnose a problem and notifies IT operations teams of impending problems.
  • Layered monitoring: Enables users to monitor every tier of an application stack via a central console.
  • Automated diagnosis: Lets users use machine learning and automation to find root causes to issues.
  • Optimization plan: Users can customize optimization plans through capacity and application overview reports.

“Most people look at user experience as just response time for accessing any application. We see user experience as being broader than this,” Ramanthan said. “If problems are not diagnosed correctly and they reoccur again and again, it will hurt user experience. If the time to resolve a problem is high, users will be unhappy.”

Pricing for EG Enterprise v7 begins at $2 per user per month in a digital workspace. Licensing for other workloads depends on how many operating systems are being monitored. The new version includes support for Citrix and VMWare Horizon.

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New Oracle Enterprise Manager release advances hybrid cloud

In a bid to meet customers’ needs for hybrid cloud deployments, Oracle has injected its Oracle Enterprise Manager system with new capabilities to ease cloud migration and hybrid cloud database management.

The software giant unveiled the new Oracle Enterprise Manager release 13.4 on Wednesday, with general availability expected by the end of the first quarter.

The release includes new analytics features for users to make the most of a single database and optimize performance. Lifecycle automation for databases gets a boost in the new release. The update also provides users with new tools to enable enterprises to migrate from an on-premises database to one in the cloud.

“Managing across hybrid on-prem and public cloud resources can be challenging in terms of planning and executing database migrations,” said Mary Johnston Turner, research vice president for cloud management at IDC. “The new Migration Workbench addresses this need by providing customers with guided support for updating and modernizing across platforms, as appropriate for the customer’s specific requirements.”

Beyond helping with migration, Turner noted that Oracle Enterprise Manager 13.4 supports customer choice by enabling consistent management across Oracle Cloud and traditional on-premises resources, which is a recognition that most enterprises are adopting multi-cloud architectures.

The other key addition in Oracle Enterprise Manager 13.4 is advanced machine learning analytics, Turner noted.

“Prior to this release the analytics capabilities were mostly limited to Oracle Management Cloud SaaS [software as a service] solutions, so adding this capability to Enterprise Manager is significant,” she said.

Oracle Enterprise Manager 13.4 features

Nearly all large Oracle customers use Enterprise Manager already, said Mughees Minhas, vice president of product management at Oracle. He said Oracle doesn’t want to force a new management tool on customers that choose to adopt the cloud, which is why the vendor is increasingly integrating cloud management features with Oracle Enterprise Manager.

Managing across hybrid on-prem and public cloud resources can be challenging in terms of planning and executing database migrations.
Mary Johnston TurnerResearch vice president for cloud management, IDC

As users decide to move data from on-premises deployments to the cloud, it’s rarely just an exercise in moving an application from one environment to another without stopping to redesign the workflow, Minhas said.

The migration tool in the new enterprise manager update includes a SQL performance analyzer feature to ensure that database operations are optimized as they move to the cloud. The tool also includes a compatibility checker to verify that on-premises database applications are compatible with the autonomous versions of Oracle database that runs in the cloud.

Migrating to new databases with Enterprise Manager 13.4

Helping organizations migrate to new database versions is one of the key capabilities of the latest version of Oracle Enterprise Manager.

“Normally, you would create a separate test system on-prem where you would install it and then once you’re done with the testing, then you’d upgrade the actual system,” Minhas said. “So we are promoting these use cases to Enterprise Manager through the use of real application testing tools, where we let you create a new database in the cloud to test.”

Intelligent analytics

The new Oracle Enterprise Manager release also benefits from Exadata Warehouse technology, which now enables analytics for Oracle database workloads.

“The goal of a great admin or cloud DBA [database administrator] is that they want to avoid problems before they happen, and not afterwards,” Minhas said. “So we are building analytical capabilities and some algorithms, so they can do some forecasting, so they know limits and are able to take action.”

Minhas said hybrid management will continue to be Oracle’s focus for Oracle Enterprise Manager.

“Over time, you’ll see us doing more use cases where we also let you do the same thing you’re doing on premises in the cloud, using the same APIs users are already familiar with,” Minhas said.

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5G connectivity won’t be enterprise-ready in 2020

Despite considerable hype, 5G connectivity likely won’t have a big impact on the enterprise this year.

Although several 5G-ready, enterprise-focused devices were announced recently, including the Dell Latitude 9510 and the 2020 HP Elite Dragonfly G2 model, analysts said the fifth generation cellular network technology itself is not enterprise-ready.

This slower rollout may be to the benefit of IT professionals, however. With 5G connectivity looming on the horizon, experts said, there is an opportunity for IT admins to contribute to strategic plans for how the technology will be implemented when it does arrive.

Limiting factors

Bill Menezes, senior principal analyst at Gartner, said the expansion of nationwide cellular and data 5G networks is still a work in progress. Such networks, he said, have been built out in some smaller countries like South Korea, where there is limited landmass to cover and a regulatory impetus to upgrade. In the U.S. and Europe, the networks have grown, but coverage is not as ubiquitous as it needs to be for businesses to rely on it.

Bill MenezesBill Menezes

Device support is another limiting factor. Menezes said iOS has the dominant share of mobile devices in the business world; until an iPad or iPhone supports the technology, organizations using iOS will be without a 5G connectivity option. With 5G-capable laptops, he said, IT should weigh the benefit of having the technology available on those relatively long-lived devices against whether their employees would see any short-term gains through it.

Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc., said he did not expect much of a 5G effect on the enterprise in 2020.

“The only impact [this year] is that customers will have to shell out more money for an iPhone, if an iPhone comes out that supports 5G,” he said.

The technology has the potential to bring about some fundamental changes, whether it involves controlling thousands of devices on the factory floor or guiding self-driving cars, but substantial work must take place before that occurs, according to Mueller. He anticipates that the rollout will be slower than the upgrade from 3G to 4G, and the early benefits will be seen in the more densely populated areas rather than nationwide.

Holger MuellerHolger Mueller

While 4G relied on cell towers covering a wide radius, 5G is expected to use a larger number of smaller stations, as the millimeter wave spectrum upon which it operates only works over short distances. Mueller said a substantial amount of buildout must take place before the service is available across the country.

Forrester Research analyst Dan Bieler described 2020 as the early days of 5G; IT, at this point, may be just starting to think about the technology and the impact it could have on operations.

“5G is one of the technologies they need to keep an eye on, in terms of the use cases they need to support,” he said.

When it does arrive, how will businesses use 5G?

The most credible interest in 5G currently, Bieler said, comes from the manufacturing sector. The technology, given its low latency, would be able to replace the data cables leading to factory machinery. In one scenario he mentioned, stationary and mobile robots could work in concert to complete tasks; given the need for perfect harmony in such an instance, a difference of a few milliseconds of latency is important.

Dan BielerDan Bieler

Bieler said he saw 5G as part of a mix of technologies — including cloud computing, artificial intelligence and virtual reality/augmented reality — that are expected to see increased enterprise adoption in the coming years. The really convincing use cases for 5G, he said, would likely involve some mix of those developments.

Menezes said several industries, such as healthcare, are poised to benefit from 5G connectivity.

“There are some more compelling use cases than others, [like] anything related to large, dense data files that people need to upload or download in a mobile setting,” he said.

Remote medical care is one such use; sending high-resolution images to an off-site physician could speed up diagnoses and treatments.

Like Bieler, Menezes also suggested VR and AR could be better powered by 5G connectivity. A worker repairing or maintaining field equipment could use augmented reality to access documentation or seek real-time human assistance in resolving a problem.

As with 5G, AR may yet bring about a shift in business, but several obstacles remain in rolling out the technology. The software managing such devices, for instance, must be able to handle proprietary information securely. Some firms have begun to offer management tools for AR headsets, like Lenovo with its ThinkReality platform.

How will 5G impact IT admins?

Menezes said implementing 5G would entail a learning curve for IT professionals, although the projected slow adoption of the technology could help with that. If 5G connectivity brings about more sophisticated and demanding applications for workers, IT admins could have the chance to participate in the ramp-up.

According to Bieler, IT’s role in bringing 5G into the enterprise will reflect a general change to the profession’s character.

The days are gone when someone tells them to implement a technology and they’re just responsible for the rollout.
Dan BielerAnalyst, Forrester Research

“I think it’s part of a broader shift in what is expected out of IT professionals,” he said. “The days are gone when someone tells them to implement a technology and they’re just responsible for the rollout.”

Bieler said companies now expect IT to take part in planning and strategy, as part of the overall effort to achieve business objectives and target priorities. Instead of merely selecting a carrier, he said, IT professionals are being asked to evaluate where mobile makes sense and what kind of processes need to be supported.

“IT managers and teams have to become much more strategically involved,” he said.

Mueller said he anticipated 5G would affect some parts of an IT admin’s job — tracking devices, for example — but did not foresee a fundamental shift in the profession. The technology, he said, has been overhyped thus far, although he would be happy to be proven wrong.

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Major storage vendors map out 2020 plans

The largest enterprise storage vendors face a common set of challenges and opportunities heading into 2020. As global IT spending slows and storage gets faster and frequently handles data outside the core data center, primary storage vendors must turn to cloud, data management and newer flash technologies.

Each of the major storage vendors has its own plans for dealing with these developments. Here is a look at what the major primary storage vendors did in 2019 and what you can expect from them in 2020.

Dell EMC: Removing shadows from the clouds

2019 in review: Enterprise storage market leader Dell EMC spent most of 2019 bolstering its cloud capabilities, in many cases trying to play catch-up. New cloud products include VMware-orchestrated Dell EMC Cloud Platform arrays that integrate Unity and PowerMax storage, coupled with VxBlock converged and VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure.

The new Dell EMC Cloud gear allows customers to build and deploy on-premises private clouds with the agility and scale of the public cloud — a growing need as organizations dive deeper into AI and DevOps.

What’s on tap for 2020: Dell EMC officials have hinted at a new Power-branded midrange storage system for several years, and a formal unveiling of that product is expected in 2020. Then again, Dell initially said the next-generation system would arrive in 2019. Customers with existing Dell EMC midrange storage likely won’t be forced to upgrade, at least not for a while. The new storage platform will likely converge features from Dell EMC Unity and SC Series midrange arrays with an emphasis on containers and microservices.

Dell will enhance its tool set for containers to help companies deploy microservices, said Sudhir Srinivasan, the CTO of Dell EMC storage. He said containers are a prominent design featured in the new midrange storage. 

“Software stacks that were built decades ago are giant monolithic pieces of code, and they’re not going to survive that next decade, which we call the data decade,” Srinivasan said. 

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s eventful year

2019 in review: In terms of product launches and partnerships, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) had a busy year in 2019. HPE Primera all-flash storage arrived in late 2019,  and HPE expects customers will slowly transition from its flagship 3PAR platform. Primera supports NVMe flash, embedding custom chips in the chassis to support massively parallel data transport on PCI Express lanes. The first Primera customer, BlueShore Financial, received its new array in October.

HPE bought supercomputing giant Cray to expand its presence in high-performance computing, and made several moves to broaden its hyper-converged infrastructure options. HPE ported InfoSight analytics to HPE SimpliVity HCI, as part of the move to bring the cloud-based predictive tools picked up from Nimble Storage across all HPE hardware. HPE launched a Nimble dHCI disaggregated HCI product and partnered with Nutanix to add Nutanix HCI technology to HPE GreenLake services while allowing Nutanix to sell its software stack on HPE servers.

It capped off the year with HPE Container Platform, a bare-metal system to make it easier to spin up Kubernetes-orchestrated containers on bare metal. The Container Platform uses technology from recent HPE acquisitions MapR and BlueData.

What’s on tap for 2020: HPE vice president of storage Sandeep Singh said more analytics are coming in response to customer calls for simpler storage. “An AI-driven experience to predict and prevent issues is a big game-changer for optimizing their infrastructure. Customers are placing a much higher priority on it in the buying motion,” helping to influence HPE’s roadmap, Singh said.

It will be worth tracking the progress of GreenLake as HPE moves towards its goal of making all of its technology available as a service by 2022.

Hitachi Vantara: Renewed focus on traditional enterprise storage

2019 in review: Hitachi Vantara renewed its focus on traditional data center storage, a segment it had largely conceded to other array vendors in recent years. Hitachi underwent a major refresh of the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) flash array in 2019. The VSP 5000 SAN arrays scale to 69 PB of raw storage, and capacity extends higher with hardware-based deduplication in its Flash Storage Modules. By virtualizing third-party storage behind a VSP 5000, customers can scale capacity to 278 PB.

What’s on tap for 2020: The VSP5000 integrates Hitachi Accelerated Fabric networking technology that enables storage to scale out and scale up. Hitachi this year plans to phase in the networking to other high-performance storage products, said Colin Gallagher, a Hitachi vice president of infrastructure products.

“We had been lagging in innovation, but with the VSP5000, we got our mojo back,” Gallagher said.

Hitachi arrays support containers, and Gallagher said the vendor is considering whether it needs to evolve its support beyond a Kubernetes plugin, as other vendors have done. Hitachi plans to expand data management features in Hitachi Pentaho analytics software to address AI and DevOps deployments. Gallagher said Hitachi’s data protection and storage as a service is another area of focus for the vendor in 2020.

IBM: hybrid cloud, with cyber-resilient storage

2019 in review: IBM brought out the IBM Elastic Storage Server 3000, an NVMe-based array packaged with IBM Spectrum Scale parallel file storage. Elastic Storage Server 3000 combines NVMe flash and containerized software modules to provide faster time to deployment for AI, said Eric Herzog, IBM’s vice president of world storage channels.

In addition, IBM added PCIe-enabled NVMe flash to Versastack converged infrastructure and midrange Storwize SAN arrays.

What to expect in 2020: Like other storage vendors, IBM is trying to navigate the unpredictable waters of cloud and services. Its product development revolves around storage that can run in any cloud. IBM Cloud Services enables end users to lease infrastructure, platforms and storage hardware as a service. The program has been around for two years, and will add IBM software-defined storage to the mix this year. Customers thus can opt to purchase hardware capacity or the IBM Spectrum suite in an OpEx model. Non-IBM customers can run Spectrum storage software on qualified third-party storage.

“We are going to start by making Spectrum Protect data protection available, and we expect to add other pieces of the Spectrum software family throughout 2020 and into 2021,” Herzog said.

Another IBM development to watch in 2020 is how its $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat affects either vendor’s storage products and services.

NetApp: Looking for a rebound

2019 in review: Although spending slowed for most storage vendors in 2019, NetApp saw the biggest decline. At the start of 2019, NetApp forecast annual sales at $6 billion, but poor sales forced NetApp to slash its guidance by around 10% by the end of the year.

NetApp CEO George Kurian blamed the revenue setbacks partly on poor sales execution, a failing he hopes will improve as NetApp institutes better training and sales incentives. The vendor also said goodbye to several top executives who retired, raising questions about how it will deliver on its roadmap going forward.

What to expect in 2020: In the face of the turbulence, Kurian kept NetApp focused on the cloud. NetApp plowed ahead with its Data Fabric strategy to enable OnTap file services to be consumed, via containers, in the three big public clouds.  NetApp Cloud Data Service, available first on NetApp HCI, allows customers to consume OnTap storage locally or in the cloud, and the vendor capped off the year with NetApp Keystone, a pay-as-you-go purchasing option similar to the offerings of other storage vendors.

Although NetApp plans hardware investments, storage software will account for more revenue as companies shift data to the cloud, said Octavian Tanase, senior vice president of the NetApp OnTap software and systems group.

“More data is being created outside the traditional data center, and Kubernetes has changed the way those applications are orchestrated. Customers want to be able to rapidly build a data pipeline, with data governance and mobility, and we want to try and monetize that,” Tanase said.

Pure Storage: Flash for backup, running natively in the cloud

2019 in review: The all-flash array specialist broadened its lineup with FlashArray//C SAN arrays and denser FlashBlade NAS models. FlashArray//C extends the Pure Storage flagship with a model that supports Intel Optane DC SSD-based MemoryFlash modules and quad-level cell NAND SSDs in the same system.

Pure also took a major step on its journey to convert FlashArray into a unified storage system by acquiring Swedish file storage software company Compuverde. It marked the second acquisition in as many years for Pure, which acquired deduplication software startup StorReduce in 2018.

What to expect in 2020: The gap between disk and flash prices has narrowed enough that it’s time for customers to consider flash for backup and secondary workloads, said Matt Kixmoeller, Pure Storage vice president of strategy.

“One of the biggest challenges — and biggest opportunities — is evangelizing to customers that, ‘Hey, it’s time to look at flash for tier two applications,'” Kixmoeller said.

Flexible cloud storage options and more storage in software are other items on Pure’s roadmap items. Cloud Block Store, which Pure introduced last year, is just getting started, Kixmoeller said, and is expected to generate lots of attention from customers. Most vendors support Amazon Elastic Block Storage by sticking their arrays in a colocation center and running their operating software on EBS, but Pure took a different approach. Pure reengineered the backend software layer to run natively on Amazon S3.

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2019 storage mergers and acquisitions covered by clouds

Most of the enterprise storage-related mergers and acquisitions that happened or closed in 2019 had a cloud twist.

Take IBM’s $34 billion blockbuster acquisition of Red Hat. That was about “resetting the hybrid cloud landscape” with access to the “world’s largest open source community,” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said in October 2018 of the proposed deal. The acquisition closed in July 2019.

Although storage was hardly the impetus for the acquisition, IBM now has Red Hat’s open source-based storage portfolio. That includes the Gluster file system, Ceph multiprotocol software-defined storage and OpenShift Container Storage and Hyperconverged Infrastructure products that are well suited to cloud use.

OpenText’s $1.45 billion purchase of cloud-based data protection, disaster recovery (DR) and endpoint security provider Carbonite in November heads the list of 2019 backup acquisitions. The Waterloo, Canada-based information management vendor completed the acquisition on Dec. 24. 

Earlier in the year, Carbonite factored into another one of the biggest 2019 storage-related mergers and acquisitions. The Boston-based provider bought cybersecurity firm Webroot for $618.5 million to address ransomware threats and bolster endpoint protection.

Cloud providers’ mergers and acquisitions

Public cloud providers AWS and Google each acquired multiple startups specializing in data storage or migration. Amazon purchased Israel-based startup CloudEndure, an AWS Advanced Technology Partner, to expand its capabilities in application workload and data migration, backup and DR. CloudEndure’s key technologies include continuous data replication to speed DR in the cloud.

AWS scooped up another Israeli startup, NVMe flash specialist E8 Storage, over the summer. E8’s arrays feature NVMe solid-state drives (SSDs) to target analytics and other data-intensive workloads requiring low latency. The startup’s technology includes an NVMe-over-TCP implementation integrated into the operating system. E8 also sold its software for use with various industry-standard servers.

Google also bought a pair of Israeli startups in 2019. In July, Google fortified its enterprise-class file storage with the acquisition of Elastifile. Google previously collaborated with the startup on a managed file storage service that Elastifile CEO Erwan Menard said would provide higher performance, greater scale-out capacity and more enterprise-grade features than Google’s Cloud Filestore. Google said engineers would integrate the Elastifile and Cloud Filestore technology.

Earlier in 2019, Google picked up Alooma for its enterprise data migration capabilities. The transaction happened less than a year after Google added Velostrata, another Israeli startup that specializes in cloud migration. Alooma’s tool focuses on shifting data from databases and enterprise applications to a single data warehouse, whereas Velostrata can move entire VM-based databases and applications to the cloud.  

HPE buys MapR, Cray

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s August purchase of struggling Hadoop distributor MapR included a cloud angle. HPE said MapR’s enterprise-grade file system and cloud storage services would complement its BlueData container platform it acquired in November 2019. HPE said the combination will enable users to combine artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and analytics data pipelines across on-premises, hybrid and multi-cloud environments. 

HPE’s biggest 2019 transaction with a storage component was its $1.4 billion acquisition of supercomputing heavyweight Cray. HPE identified high-performance computing (HPC) as a key component of its strategic direction to target organizations that run AI, machine learning and big data analytics workloads.

Flash-related mergers and acquisitions

Flash played a key role in several 2019 storage-related mergers and acquisitions. Pure Storage bought Swedish file software startup Compuverde for $48 million in April to turn its flagship FlashArray into a unified storage system. Pure said the unified FlashArray would target workloads such as enterprise file sharing, databases over the NFS and SMB file protocols, and VMware over NFS.

Compuverde was Pure’s second acquisition since August 2018, when the flash pioneer bought data deduplication software startup StorReduce. Pure integrated the StorReduce technology into its GPU-based FlashBlade, which targets AI, machine learning, analytics and HPC workloads.

DataDirect Networks (DDN) continued its storage expansion with the September acquisition of Western Digital’s IntelliFlash business unit. The IntelliFlash purchase adds NVMe- and SAS-based flash hardware and accompanying software. Western Digital, a leading disk and solid-state drive (SSD) vendor, said it no longer plans to sell storage systems.

Although DDN’s roots are in storage for HPC environments, the vendor has been broadening its portfolio through acquisition. DDN bought Nexenta in May for its software-defined, hardware-agnostic file, block and object services. In September 2018, DDN completed its $60 million purchase of hybrid flash array vendor Tintri, less than three months after buying Intel’s Lustre File System business.

In mid-2019, StorCentric tacked on sagging NVMe flash system startup Vexata and small and midsize business (SMB) backup software provider Retrospect a week apart. Formed in August 2018, StorCentric is also the parent company of Drobo and Nexsan. Drobo, Nexsan, Retrospect and Vexata operate as separate divisions under StorCentric. Drobo sells direct-attached NAS and iSCSI SAN systems for SMBs, while Nexsan focuses on block and unified storage and secure archiving.

In August, Toshiba Memory (now known as Kioxia) announced plans to acquire the flash-based SSD business of Taiwan-based Lite-On Technology for $165 million. Acting president and CEO Nobuo Hayasaka said the Lite-On technology would help the company “to meet the projected growth in demand for SSDs in PCs and data centers being driven by the increased use of cloud services.”

Also in August, Virtual Instruments completed its purchase of Metricly, which was formerly called Netuitive. In October, Virtual Instruments changed its name to Virtana and introduced a new SaaS-based CloudWisdom monitoring and cost analysis tool that uses the Metricly technology.

Backup mergers and acquisitions

Data protection vendors kept busy on the mergers and acquisitions front in 2019.

OpenText’s $1.45 billion deal for Carbonite in November was the largest data protection transaction and followed months of rumors about a possible sale. Carbonite’s subscription-based cloud backup protects servers, endpoints and SaaS applications for businesses and consumers.

In September, Commvault spent $225 million on software-defined storage startup Hedvig to converge primary and secondary storage and address the problem of data fragmentation. Hedvig’s scale-out Distributed Storage Platform runs on commodity servers and supports provisioning and management of block, file and object storage across private and public clouds. Commvault plans a phased rollout of the Hedvig software on its HyperScale data protection appliance, with full integration in mid-2021.

Veritas Technologies strengthened its storage analytics and monitoring capabilities through its March acquisition of Aptare. Aptare’s IT Analytics suite includes storage, backup, capacity, fabric, replication and virtualization management components, in addition to file analytics. Aptare IT Analytics will complement the popular Veritas NetBackup and Backup Exec data protection products and InfoScale storage management software.

Other data protection-related mergers and acquisitions in 2019 included: 

  • Cohesity’s May purchase of Imanis Data to enable customers to back up and recover Hadoop and NoSQL workloads and distributed databases, such as MongoDB, Cassandra, Cloudera and Couchbase DB.
  • Druva’s July acquisition of CloudLanes, a hybrid cloud data protection and migration startup, to let customers securely ingest data from on-premises systems, move it to the cloud and restore it locally.
  • Acronis’ December buy of Microsoft Hyper-V and Azure cloud management and security provider 5nine to complement its cyber protection capabilities. Acronis plans to integrate 5nine’s technology into its Cyber Platform and offer new services.
  • Mainframe software specialist Compuware’s December purchase of Innovation Data Processing’s enterprise data protection, business continuance and storage resource management assets. The transaction was Compuware’s sixth mainframe-related software or services acquisition in the last three years.

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Enterprise flash adoption poised for new uses, experts say

Flash storage appears poised for greater adoption in enterprise data centers during 2020.

A developing NVMe flash ecosystem and new quad-level cell (QLC) NAND SSDs will extend enterprise flash storage to workloads previously relegated to disk. Edge computing will to spur interest in storage class memory and customers will start experimenting with persistent storage for AI and containers.

Those conclusions surfaced from interviews with flash analysts and storage vendors. Here is a summary of what enterprises should watch for in 2020.

Flash isn’t only for big companies

Enterprise flash arrays first appeared around 2008, incorporating solid-state media to replace electromechanical hard disk drives. Vendors first aimed all-flash arrays at high-end enterprises that could justify the premium cost to support performance-heavy applications. Hybrid arrays that combine HDDs and SSDs followed for midrange and smaller organizations.

Flash was at such a premium in early days of enterprise use that it was limited mostly to large organizations and the most important applications. But prices consistently dropped over the past decade. Steve McDowell, a senior analyst for storage and data center technologies at Moor Insights & Strategy, said falling flash prices have made the technology a realistic option for more organizations.

“Nearline storage is pretty much all on flash right now, at least as far replacement cycles happen. Companies may not be ripping out their disk systems now, but they realize flash gives you better efficiency and density per rack unit,” McDowell said.

Prices have dropped enough that there is little difference between enterprise flash and high-performing hard disk drives, said Eric Herzog, the vice president of worldwide storage channels at IBM Storage.

“In many cases, it doesn’t pay to use disk arrays or even hybrid anymore. The price of all-flash arrays now is basically on par with high-performance disk, plus you get better total cost of ownership,” Herzog said.

NVMe set to dominate enterprise flash storage

Tiering is in vogue again

Nonvolatile memory express (NVMe) flash is expected to further make inroads in the data center. Intel Optane SSDs combine dynamic RAM and flash memory. The Optane drives are based on 3D XPoint memory technology that was initially developed by Intel and Micron Technologies, a partnership that ended in 2018. Micron in October 2019 launched its own 3D XPoint products.

Major storage vendors are adding NVMe flash to their arrays, usually in conjunction with SAS or SATA SSD connectivity. NVMe SSDs use PCI Express lanes to enable faster communication between applications and storage.

QLC is a lower-cost alternative to TLC NAND SSDs, and vendors see it as suitable for read-intensive and light write workloads. While QLC has 25% greater capacity than TLC, it has poorer performance and write endurance. Storage vendors are retooling their data management software to support QLC, NVMe and persistent memory in the same system, said Eric Burgener, a research vice president of storage at analyst firm IDC.

“We are starting to see the return of tiering for high-performance applications,” Burgener said.

Although fabrication plants are still ramping production of QLC NAND, vendors are designing systems that place a tier of superfast persistent storage on the controller, backed by a standard tier of NVMe SSDs. Examples include Dell EMC PowerMax, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Primera, the Hitachi Vantara Virtual Storage Platform VSP5000, NetApp MaxData and Pure Storage FlashArray//C.

Flash for backup, object storage

AI at the edge is also expanding flash use cases, said Sudhir Srinivasan, CTO at Dell EMC storage.

Srinivasan said more customers have moved to flash due to its operational simplicity, even for traditionally disk-based workloads.

“Most backup is still on disk, but we do have customers placing certain primary data sets on secondary devices for analytics. And that data needs a higher level of performance,” Srinivasan said.

Backup and rapid recovery is an unexpected use for Pure Storage FlashBlade all-flash NAS. The product’s massively parallel bandwidth helped Domino’s Pizza reduce dependence on disk-based backup, said Dan Djuric, a Domino’s vice president of global infrastructure and enterprise information systems. 

“Anytime we have to share file systems, we launch FlashBlade. We also use Pure FlashBlade as the framework for all our data capture, so it’s more than just backup and recovery,” Djuric said.

Flash is also penetrating converged systems, said Octavian Tanase, a senior vice president of the NetApp OnTap software and systems. NetApp FlexPod is a converged infrastructure based on NetApp FAS storage and Cisco compute and networking. Roughly 60% of FlexPod sales were for all-flash systems, Tanase said.  

McDowell said all-flash is also coming to object arrays to help enterprises analyze unstructured data created in edge environments.

“Some data never leaves the edge. Some gets consumed in the cloud, and object is the language it speaks. It’s an object-centric world and all-flash is a natural fit,” McDowell said.

Don’t write off disk yet

IDC’s Burgener said demand for NVMe all-flash will grow 67% during the next five years, with SCSI-based flash arrays growth approaching 11%. IDC expects the market for hybrid arrays to contract by 2%.

Still, enterprise flash is not in every data center. Nearly one-third of companies have no plans to install flash, according to a recent survey by 451 Research Group. The survey of nearly 500 data center administrators found that 48% of enterprises have flash, while 6% are running proofs of concept and 13% plan all-flash purchases within two years.

“There are a surprisingly high percentage of enterprises that haven’t even looked at flash yet, so there is a ways to go” before the arrival of an all-flash data center, said Tim Stammers, a senior analyst for storage at 451 Research.

Stammers said high-capacity disks are hitting the market as larger enterprises deploy converged systems and archive data to the hybrid cloud. “Disk isn’t dead,” he said. “With so much data going to the cloud, disk has a long and healthy future” as archival storage.

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Geek gifts 2019: Think Opex, not Capex with subscriptions

Geek gifts are undergoing a paradigm shift not unlike the enterprise IT migration to public cloud. Resource ownership and gift supply chain management are so passé — let any number of subscription services entertain and delight your geek for you!

Just as Amazon has eliminated the toil that used to be involved in holiday shopping, from schlepping to the mall to battling for a parking space to waiting in line at a register, subscription services can step in and take over even selecting and shipping gifts online. Name an item, interest or type of entertainment — there’s almost always a subscription service out there to bring it forth to your geek, on a regular basis, often for a full year. Bacon, for example. Craft beer. E-Books. Video games.

“An HBO Now subscription so you can watch The Watchmen on your flights to and from conferences, or Apple Music so you can drown out the screaming babies on the plane,” suggested one of our road warrior geek friends.

Our geek consultants this year rave about LootCrate for the geekily inclined. There are gift box subscriptions for every conceivable fandom, from Harry Potter to Marvel Comics to Hello Kitty.

“It’s all kinds of geeky goodness,” summed up one of our geek advisors.

Subscription services are also available for truly hardcore geeks who never stop talking shop long enough to watch movies or read comic books, such as a membership to document collaboration service Coda.io, or Zapier for home automation management.

The latest in gadgets, both practical and fun

As always, the cardinal rule of buying gifts for geeks is: know thy geek. Some geeks can’t get enough Funko Pops. Other geeks’ dearest wish is to get rid of the clutter they already have. Some geeks will be thrilled with beer delivered monthly to their doorstep — others would have much more fun making their own. For the DIY geeks, or traditionalists who want to wrap something themselves, gadgets and doodads still abound.

“I’m usually a ‘late early adopter’ of new tech toys, so I might not [want] anything crazy,” said one such geek we know. “[But] one of my favorite not-so-new things is the PicoBrew home brewing appliance.”

PicoBrew is pricey (the Pico C for craft beer homebrew enthusiasts is priced at $399.00), and not everyone likes beer. There’s also a $125 cocktail bitters kit one of our geeks had their eye on.

“It lets you be a bit of a mad scientist and drink the results,” he said.

For teetotaling or practically minded geeks, our geek advisors pointed out useful gadgets such as the iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit, reMarkable digital notepad or Rocketbook.

“It’s like a Kindle, but a writing tablet, perfect for those who like the feel of writing stuff but don’t want an extremely bright or distracting tablet,” said one geek expert of the reMarkable pad. “[Rocketbook] is like a notebook, but you can use it like a whiteboard, as the pages wipe clean with a damp cloth. You can also pair it with an app and upload your notes to the cloud.”

Geeks with a quirky sense of humor may delight in somewhat pointless gadgets, such as the Qwerkywriter or a Makey Makey kit that can turn anything into a keyboard, from bananas to water buckets.

“I don’t know if this is actually a good product,” said one of our geek advisors of Qwerkywriter. “But the idea of a mechanical keyboard for an iPad makes me laugh.”

Budget-friendly humorous geek gift suggestions include the time-honored coffee mug and some truly bizarre drink coasters.  

Perennial favorites: Star Wars mania strikes back

Star Wars already led our geek gift recommendations in 2015, but could have again this year, with the launch of Disney+ and The Mandalorian series (Baby Yoda!), along with the hotly anticipated Dec. 20 release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Even after all these years, it’s hard to go wrong with Star Wars swag for many geeks. Not every geek is part of this fandom, but one of our geek advisors reported there is a strong correlation between enterprise IT geeks and Star Wars fans: Amazon suggested to him that those who bought Gene Kim’s The Unicorn Project book also ordered Rebel Alliance stickers, he said.

Perennial favorites in the non-Star Wars category include all the other major fandoms with movies coming out, such as Wonder Woman and Ghostbustersdinner and a movie, anyone? Geeks also still covet Sonos smart speaker devices, drones and Raspberry Pis, including the latest Raspberry Pi 4.

“New hardware, including a gigabit NIC, finally!” one of our geek experts said of the Pi 4. “Being able to cluster these and run k3s is also super cool.”

Much as geeks love home automation with toolkits such as Arduino and Hue Play, consider the potential privacy implications of devices such as Ring before you gift them, our geek friends warn.

“I would avoid anything that is going to record you and later be used by law enforcement or in other ways you didn’t intend, such as Ring, Alexa or Google Home,” said one. (If only we’d had this insight back in 2016!)

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Windows 10 issues top list of most read stories for IT pros

Windows 10 — and the challenges posed to IT professionals by its updates — dominated the enterprise desktop discussion in 2019. Troubleshooting and understanding the eccentricities of 2019’s Windows 10 issues comprised many of our top 10 most popular stories this year.

With the sunset of Windows 7 scheduled for the first month of 2020, interest in other Microsoft OSes, including Windows 10, may intensify in the coming year.

Below is a countdown of the top ten most-read SearchEnterpriseDesktop stories, based on page views.

  1. Micro apps, AI to power new version of Citrix Workspace

Citrix announced a new version of Citrix Workspace, which enables IT admins to provide employees with virtual access to an organization’s desktop and applications, at May’s Citrix Synergy event in Atlanta. The company cited micro apps or small, task-based applications as a key feature, saying they would handle complicated tasks more efficiently by bringing them into a unified work feed. The addition of micro apps was made possible through a $200 million acquisition of Sapho in 2018.

  1. Lenovo to launch ThinkBook brand, next-gen ThinkPad x1

Lenovo started a new subbrand — called ThinkBook — this past spring, with two laptops aimed at younger employees in the workforce. The 13- and 14-inch laptops were intended to incorporate a sleek design with robust security, reliability and support services. The company also launched a laptop for advanced business users, ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2, and the ultrasmall desktop ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano in the same time frame.

  1. Learn about the device-as-a-service model and its use cases

The device-as-a-service model, in which a vendor leases devices to a business, may help IT admins fulfill their responsibility to support, maintain and repair equipment. The model has its pros and cons. It can provide a single point of contact for troubleshooting and enable more frequent hardware refreshes, but it can also limit an organization’s device choices and pose complications for a company’s BYOD plan.

  1. Lenovo powers new ThinkPad series with AMD Ryzen Pro processors

Lenovo released three Windows 10 laptops with AMD processors this past spring, the first time it has used non-Intel chips in its higher-end ThinkPad T and X series devices. The company hoped its T495, T495s and X395 computers would provide better performance and security at a lower cost; the company said the AMD-powered T and X series laptops saw an 18% increase over the previous generation.

  1. Windows 10 security breach highlights third-party vulnerabilities

Microsoft detected a security vulnerability in Windows 10, introduced through Huawei PCManager driver software. Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection, a feature that finds and blocks potential compromises, found the problem before the vulnerability could cause serious damage, but industry professionals said the incident highlighted the risks posed by third-party kernels such as device drivers and the importance of working with trusted companies.

  1. Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 2-in-1 impresses with specs and looks

Samsung released a redesign of its flagship Windows 10 laptop this year, opting for an aluminum chassis in place of the plastic from previous iterations. The device offered comparable specs to other high-end laptop offerings, with a slate of features including a backlit keyboard, a variety of inputs and the Samsung Active Pen.

  1. With the new Windows 10 OS update, trust but verify

Dave Sobel, senior director and managed services provider at SolarWinds in Austin, Texas, expounded on the then-forthcoming May 2019 Windows 10 update a month before its scheduled release. Sobel acknowledged the security importance of patching systems but stressed that IT professionals remain vigilant for complications — notable, as the Windows 10 update came in the wake of an October 2018 patch that deleted files of users who work with Known Folder redirection.

  1. Citrix CEO David Henshall addresses Citrix news, sale rumors

In a Q&A, Citrix CEO David Henshall talked about the future of the 30-year-old company, downplaying rumors that it would be sold. Henshall spoke of the venerable firm’s history of connecting people and information on demand and saw the coming years as a time when Citrix would continue to simplify and ease that connection to encourage productivity.

  1. Latest Windows 10 update issues cause more freezing problems

The April 9 Windows 10 update caused device freezing upon launch. Those in IT had already noted freezing in devices using Sophos Endpoint Protection; after a few days, they learned that the patch was clashing with antivirus software, causing freezing both during startup and over the course of regular operation of the computer. Microsoft updated its support page to acknowledge the issue and provided workarounds shortly thereafter.

  1. 1. IT takes the good with the bad in Windows 10 1903 update

After experiencing problems with previous Windows 10 updates, June’s 1903 version came with initial positive — but wary — reception. Microsoft’s Windows-as-a-service model drew complaints for the way it implemented updates. Among its changes, 1903 enabled IT professionals to pause feature and monthly updates for up to 35 days. Also new was Windows Sandbox, providing IT with the ability to test application installations without compromising a machine. The new version of Windows 10 did not launch bug-free, however; issues with Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth device connection and USB devices causing the rearrangement of drive letters were reported.

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For Sale – HGST 8TB 7.2K 3.5″ SATA III Enterprise Hard Drive £149

This the HGST 8TB 7.2K 3.5″ SATA III Enterprise Hard Drive HDD 0F23267 HUH728080ALE600.

These are Enterprise so runs forever, been using a couple of these in my RAID. 10khours.

Selling to fund a project.

I’m near Angel, Islington in London

Price and currency: 165
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: PayPal BT
Location: London
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

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By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

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