Tag Archives: Infrastructure

VMware vSAN HCI: Complete stack or ‘vaporware’?

Days after VMware’s CEO proclaimed his vSAN product the winner in the hyper-converged infrastructure space, the CEO of VMWare rival Nutanix countered that VMware “sells a lot of vaporware.”

“We’re crushing Nu … I mean we’re winning in the marketplace,” VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said during his opening VMworld keynote last week. “We’re separating from No. 2. We’re winning in the space.”

Two days later on Nutanix’s earnings call, CEO Dheeraj Pandey took a shot at VMware without mentioning the company by name. “We don’t sell vaporware,” he said, when referring to why Nutanix wins in competitive deals.

In an exclusive interview after the call, Pandey admitted the vaporware charge was aimed mostly at VMware’s vSAN HCI software.

Pat Gelsinger, VMware CEOPat Gelsinger

“VMware sells a lot of vaporware,” Pandey said. “A lot of that vaporware becomes evident to customers who buy that stuff. When bundled products don’t deliver on their promise, they call us. What we sell is not shelfware.”

Whatever VMware is selling with its vSAN HCI software, it is working. VMware reported license bookings of its vSAN HCI software grew 45% year-over-year last quarter, while Nutanix revenue and bookings slipped from last year. VMware’s parent Dell also claimed a 77% increase in orders of its Dell EMC VxRail HCI appliances that run vSAN software. Those numbers suggest Dell increased market share against Nutanix, even if Nutanix did better than expected last quarter following a disappointing period. IDC listed VMware as the HCI software market leader and Dell as the hardware HCI leader in the first quarter of 2019, with Nutanix second in both categories. Gartner lists Nutanix as the HCI software leader, but No. 2 VMware made up ground in Gartner’s first-quarter numbers.

Nutanix’s Pandey attributed at least some of VMware’s HCI success to bundling its vSAN software with its overall virtualization stack. Like VMware, Nutanix has its own hypervisor (AHV) and its share of hardware partners — including Dell — but VMware has a huge vSphere installed base to sell vSAN into.

Dheeraj Pandey, Nutanix CEODheeraj Pandey

Pandey said he was unimpressed by VMware’s Kubernetes and open source plans laid out at VMworld, which included Tanzu and Project Pacific. Both are still roadmap items but reflect a commitment from VMware to containers and open source software.

“That’s worse than vaporware, that’s slideware,” Pandey said of VMware’s announcements. “Everything works in slides. We’re based on Linux; we get a lot of leverage out of open source. AHV was based on Linux, and we’ve made it enterprise grade.”

Making vSAN part of its vSphere virtualization platform has paid off for VMware. Customers at VMworld pointed to their familiarity with VMware and vSAN’s integration with vSphere, and its NSX software-defined networking as reasons for going with vSAN HCI.

 “What really end up selling it for us was, we were already using VMware for our base product and the vast majority of the deliverables that our customers request is in vSphere,” said Lester Shisler, senior IT systems engineer at Harmony Healthcare IT, based in South Bend, Ind. “So whatever pain points we learned along the way with vSAN, we were going to have to learn [with a competing HCI product] as well, along with new software and new management and everything else.”

Matthew Douglas, chief enterprise architect at Sentara Healthcare in Norfolk, Va., said Nutanix was among the HCI options he looked at before picking vSAN.

“VMware was ultimately the choice,” he said. “All the others were missing some components. VMWare was a consistent platform for hyper-converged infrastructure. Plus, there was NSX and all these things that fit together in a nice, uniform fashion. And as an enterprise, I couldn’t make a choice of all these independent different tools. Having one consistent tool was the differentiator.”

Despite losing share, Nutanix’s last-quarter results were mixed. Its revenue of $300 million and billings of $372 million were both down from last year but better than expected following the disappointing previous quarter. Nutanix’s software and support revenue of $287 million increased 7%, a good sign for the HCI pioneer’s move to a software-centric business model. Nutanix also reported a 16% growth in deals over $1 million from the previous quarter.

However, operating expenses also increased. Sales and marketing spend jumped to $254 million from $183 million the previous year. Nutanix, which has never recorded a profit, lost $194 million in the quarter — more than double its losses from a year ago. It finished the quarter with $909 million in cash, down from $943 million last year.

Pandey said he is more concerned about growth and customer acquisition than profitability.

“Profitability is a nuanced word,” Pandey said. “We defer so much in our balance sheet. Right now we care about doing right by the customer when we sell them subscriptions.”

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IDC: SD-WAN market spend to top $5B in 2023

The global software-defined WAN infrastructure market will grow an average of nearly 31% annually through 2023 as vendors feed enterprise hunger for technology that connects employees to applications running on multiple cloud service providers.

That’s one of the findings of IDC’s latest SD-WAN forecast. The research firm said the market would reach $5.25 billion in 2023 from $1.4 billion in 2018, the beginning of the forecast period.

Enterprises have found SD-WAN a necessary technology for connecting branch locations and remote offices with SaaS applications and software running on public clouds, such as AWS and Microsoft Azure. Traditional WAN technology lacks most of the features needed for connecting to cloud and SaaS applications, such as simplified management, cost-effective bandwidth utilization and WAN flexibility, efficiency and security, IDC said.

The demand for SD-WAN will fuel a continuation of market consolidation through acquisition as companies with stronger business models buy weaker vendors for their intellectual property, customer base or presence in specific geographical regions, IDC said.

SD-WAN market consolidation

The SD-WAN market today has more than three dozen vendors, which is more than the market can support, analysts have said. The most significant acquisitions to date include VMware purchasing VeloCloud in 2017 and Cisco Systems acquiring Viptela and Oracle picking up Talari Networks in 2018.

Other trends spotted by IDC include SD-WAN evolving from a standalone product to a key feature within a broader SD-branch platform that encompasses additional network and security services.

“Vendors will compete intensely on this front during the next few years,” the IDC report said.

Businesses with lots of branch and remote offices are deploying SD-branch technology to simplify network operations through consolidation of WAN connectivity, network security, LAN and Wi-Fi in a unified platform, according to Lee Doyle, principal analyst for Doyle Research. Network and security vendors offering SD-branch options include Cisco Meraki, Cradlepoint, Fortinet, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Aruba Networks, Riverbed and Versa Networks.

Market share leaders

IDC defines SD-WAN infrastructure as comprising edge routing software or hardware and traditional routers and WAN optimization technology if they are an in-use and integrated component of an SD-WAN product.

Other infrastructure components include SD-WAN controllers for centralized implementation of application policy and WAN routing, network visibility and analytics.

Based on IDC’s definition of SD-WAN infrastructure, Cisco’s broad portfolio of hardware and software made it the market leader with a 46.4% share, the researcher said. VMware, which sells only software, was second with an 8.8% share, followed by Silver Peak, 7.4%; Nuage Networks, a Nokia company, 4.9%; and Riverbed, 4.3%.

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New Contentful CMS targets content delivery for retailers

Contentful has launched a content infrastructure system to drive online sales by enabling more content management across channels for retailers.

Like a headless content management system, the Contentful CMS allows users to publish and update content across all digital platforms at once, but at an enterprise-grade scale. The vendor claimed content infrastructure enables retailers to repurpose existing content, improve impact and deliver marketing messages to target audiences.

Headless CMS enables content creation and sharing across multiple channels with one action by removing the head — or presentation layer — which defines the channel or platform in a traditional CMS. Content infrastructure has the same benefits as headless CMS, but unifies content to be managed from one content hub.

Contentful claimed content infrastructure markets digital content four to seven times faster than a traditional CMS by enabling users to do the following:

  • organize content specific to their business;
  • create content once for different platforms;
  • store all content in a central hub;
  • edit content without the involvement of developers;
  • manage teams with roles and permissions; and
  • publish content to any device.

Contentful intends its content infrastructure to enable brands to build and manage targeted, customized marketing for event-driven campaigns and localize the content for any market. Through the vendor’s Content Delivery API, editors can update content through a web app synced with any platform for consistent management.

The vendor claimed its array of content management services has decreased bounce rates, increased mobile conversion, personalized content across a breadth of languages and locales, updated content at a fraction of the time as legacy tools, and delivers new customer touch points five times faster than with a traditional CMS.

In 2018, Contentful was named a contender in Forrester’s Wave for web content management systems, challenged by leaders Adobe, Acquia and Sitecore. According to Contentful, its headless enterprise focus makes it flexible for developers. Forrester recommended the vendor for progressive digital initiatives that require content unification across channels, but also have easy access to developer resources.

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DataCore adds new HCI, analytics, subscription price options

Storage virtualization pioneer DataCore Software revamped its strategy with a new hyper-converged infrastructure appliance, cloud-based predictive analytics service and subscription-based licensing option.

DataCore launched the new offerings this week as part of an expansive DataCore One software-defined storage (SDS) vision that spans primary, secondary, backup and archival storage across data center, cloud and edge sites.

For the last two decades, customers have largely relied on authorized partners and OEMs, such as Lenovo and Western Digital, to buy the hardware to run their DataCore storage software. But next Monday, they’ll find new 1U and 2U DataCore-branded HCI-Flex appliance options that bundle DataCore software and VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization technology on Dell EMC hardware. Pricing starts at $21,494 for a 1U box, with 3 TB of usable SSD capacity.

The HCI-Flex appliance reflects “the new thinking of the new DataCore,” said Gerardo Dada, who joined the company last year as chief marketing officer.

DataCore software can pool and manage internal storage, as well as external storage systems from other manufacturers. Standard features include parallel I/O to accelerate performance, automated data tiering, synchronous and asynchronous replication, and thin provisioning.

New DataCore SDS brand

In April 2018, DataCore unified and rebranded its flagship SANsymphony software-defined storage and Hyperconverged Virtual SAN software as DataCore SDS. Although the company’s website continues to feature the original product names, DataCore will gradually transition to the new name, said Augie Gonzalez, director of product marketing at DataCore, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

With the product rebranding, DataCore also switched to simpler per-terabyte pricing instead of charging customers based on a-la-carte features, nodes with capacity limits and separate expansion capacity. With this week’s strategic relaunch, DataCore is adding the option of subscription-based pricing.

Just as DataCore faced competitive pressure to add predictive analytics, the company also needed to provide a subscription option, because many other vendors offer it, said Randy Kerns, a senior strategist at Evaluator Group, based in Boulder, Colo. Kerns said consumption-based pricing has become a requirement for storage vendors competing against the public cloud.

“And it’s good for customers. It certainly is a rescue, if you will, for an IT operation where capital is difficult to come by,” Kerns said, noting that capital expense approvals are becoming a bigger issue at many organizations. He added that human nature also comes into play. “If it’s easier for them to get the approvals with an operational expense than having to go through a large justification process, they’ll go with the path of least resistance,” he said.

DataCore SDS
DataCore software-defined storage dashboard

DataCore Insight Services

DataCore SDS subscribers will gain access to the new Microsoft Azure-hosted DataCore Insight Services. DIS uses telemetry-based data the vendor has collected from thousands of SANsymphony installations to detect problems, determine best-practice recommendations and plan capacity. The vendor claimed it has more than 10,000 customers.

Like many storage vendors, DataCore will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze the data and help customers to proactively correct issues before they happen. Subscribers will be able to access the information through a cloud-based user interface that is paired with a local web-based DataCore SDS management console to provide resolution steps, according to Steven Hunt, a director of product management at the company.

DataCore HCI-Flex appliance
New DataCore HCI-Flex appliance model on Dell hardware

DataCore customers with perpetual licenses will not have access to DIS. But, for a limited time, the vendor plans to offer a program for them to activate new subscription licenses. Gonzalez said DataCore would apply the annual maintenance and support fees on their perpetual licenses to the corresponding DataCore SDS subscription, so there would be no additional cost. He said the program will run at least through the end of 2019.

Shifting to subscription-based pricing to gain access to DIS could cost a customer more money than perpetual licenses in the long run.

“But this is a service that is cloud-hosted, so it’s difficult from a business perspective to offer it to someone who has a perpetual license,” Dada said.

Johnathan Kendrick, director of business development at DataCore channel partner Universal Systems, said his customers who were briefed on DIS have asked what they need to do to access the services. He said he expects even current customers will want to move to a subscription model to get DIS.

“If you’re an enterprise organization and your data is important, going down for any amount of time will cost your company a lot of money. To be able to see [potential issues] before they happen and have a chance to fix that is a big deal,” he said.

Customers have the option of three DataCore SDS editions: enterprise (EN) for the highest performance and richest feature set, standard (ST) for midrange deployments, and large-scale (LS) for secondary “cheap and deep” storage, Gonzalez said.

Price comparison

Pricing is $416 per terabyte for a one-year subscription of the ST option, with support and software updates. The cost for a perpetual ST license is $833 per terabyte, inclusive of one year of support and software updates. The subsequent annual support and maintenance fees are 20%, or $166 per year, Gonzalez said. He added that loyalty discounts are available.

The new PSP 9 DataCore SDS update that will become generally available in mid-July includes new features, such as AES 256-bit data-at-rest encryption that can be used across pools of storage arrays, support for VMware’s Virtual Volumes 2.0 technology and UI improvements.

DataCore plans another 2019 product update that will include enhanced file access and object storage options, Gonzalez said.

This week’s DataCore One strategic launch comes 15 months after Dave Zabrowski replaced founder George Teixeira as CEO. Teixeira remains with DataCore as chairman.

“They’re serious about pushing toward the future, with the new CEO, new brand, new pricing model and this push to fulfill more of the software-defined stack down the road, adding more long-term archive type storage,” Jeff Kato, a senior analyst at Taneja Group in West Dennis, Mass., said of DataCore. “They could have just hunkered down and stayed where they were at and rested on their installed base. But the fact that they’ve modernized and gone for the future vision means that they want to take a shot at it.

“This was necessary for them,” Kato said. “All the major vendors now have their own software-defined storage stacks, and they have a lot of competition.”

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Transforming IT infrastructure and operations to drive digital business

It’s time for organizations to modernize their IT infrastructure and operations to not just support, but to drive digital business, according to Gregory Murray, research director at Gartner.

But to complete that transformation, organizations need to first understand their desired future state, he added.

“The future state for the vast majority of organizations is going to be a blend of cloud, on prem and off prem,” Murray told the audience at the recent Gartner Catalyst conference. “What’s driving this is the opposing forces of speed and control.”

From 2016 to 2024, the percentage of new workloads that will be deployed through on-premises data centers is going to plummet from about 80% to less than 20%, Gartner predicts. During the same period, cloud adoption will explode — going from less than 10% to as much as 45% — with off-premises, colocation and managed hosting facilities also picking up more workloads.

IT infrastructure needs to provide capabilities across these platforms, and operations must tackle the management challenges that come with it, Murray said.

How to transform IT infrastructure and operations

Once organizations have defined their future state — and Murray urged organizations to start with developing a public cloud strategy to determine which applications will be in the cloud — they should begin modernizing their infrastructure, he told the audience at the Gartner Catalyst conference. 

“Programmatic control is the key to enabling automation and automation is, of course, critical to addressing the disparity between the speed that we can deliver and execute in cloud, and improving our speed of execution on prem,” he said. 

Organizations will also need developers with the skills to take advantage of it, he said. Another piece of the automation equation when modernizing the infrastructure to gain speed is standardization, he said.

The future state for the vast majority of organizations is going to be a blend of cloud, on prem and off prem.
Gregory Murrayresearch director, Gartner

“We need to standardize around those programmatic building blocks, either by using individual components of software-defined networking, software-defined compute and software-defined storage, or by using a hyper-converged system.”

Hyper-converged simplifies the complexity associated with establishing programmatic control and helps create a unified API for infrastructure, he said.

Organizations also need to consider how to uplevel their standardization, according to Murray. This is where containers come into play. The atomic unit of deployment is specific to an application and it abstracts much of the dependencies and complications that come with moving an application independent of its operating system, he explained.

“And if we can do that, now I have a construct that I can standardize around and deploy into cloud, into on prem, into off prem and give it straight to my developers and give them the ability to move quickly and deploy their applications,” he said.

Hybrid is the new normal

To embrace this hybrid environment, Murray said organizations should establish a fundamental substrate to unify these environments.

“The two pieces that are so fundamental that they precede any sort of hybrid integration is the concept of networks — specifically your WAN and WAN strategy across your providers — and identity,” Murray said. “If I don’t have fundamental identity constructs, governance will be impossible.”

Organizations looking to modernize their network for hybrid capabilities should resort to SD-WAN, Murray said. This provides software-defined control that extends outside of the data center and allows a programmatic approach and automation around their WAN connectivity to help keep that hybrid environment working together, he explained.

But to get that framework of governance in place across this hybrid environment requires a layered approach, Murray said. “It’s a combination of establishing principles, publishing the policies and using programmatic controls to bring as much cloud governance as we can.”

Murray also hinted that embracing DevOps is the first step in “a series of cultural changes” that organizations are going to need to truly modernize IT infrastructure and operations. For those who aren’t operating at agile speed, operations still needs to get out of the business of managing tickets and delivering resources and get to a self-service environment where operations and IT are involved in brokering the services, he added.

There is also need to have a monitoring framework in place to gain visibility across the environment. Embracing AIOps — which uses big data, data analytics and machine learning — can help organizations become more predictive and more proactive with their operations, he added.

Dell EMC HCI and storage cloud plans on display at VMworld

LAS VEGAS — Dell EMC launched cloud-related enhancements to its storage and hyper-converged infrastructure products today at the start of VMworld 2018.

The Dell EMC HCI and storage product launch includes a new VxRail hyper-converged appliance, which uses VMware vSAN software. The vendor also added a cloud version of the Unity midrange unified storage array and cloud enhancements to the Data Domain data deduplication platform.

Dell EMC HCI key for multi-cloud approach?

Dell EMC is also promising synchronized releases between the VxRail and the VMware vSAN software that turns the PowerEdge into an HCI system – although it could take 30 days for the “synchronization.” Still, that’s an improvement over the six months or so it now takes for the latest vSAN release to make it to VxRail.

Whether you’re protecting data or storing data, the learning curve of your operating model — regardless of whether you’re on premises or off premises — should be zero.
Sam Grocottsenior vice president of marketing, ISG, Dell EMC

Like other vendors, Dell EMC considers its HCI a key building block for private and hybrid clouds. The ability to offer private clouds with public cloud functionality is becoming an underpinning of the multi-cloud strategies at some organizations.

Sam Grocott, senior vice president of marketing for the Dell EMC infrastructure solutions group, said the strong multi-cloud flavor of the VMworld product launches reflects conversations the vendor has with its customers.

“As we talk to customers, the conversation quickly turns to what we are doing in the cloud,” Grocott said. “Customers talk about how they’re evaluating multiple cloud vendors. The reality is, they aren’t just picking one cloud, they’re picking two or even three clouds in a lot of cases. Not all your eggs will be in one basket.”

Dell EMC isn’t the only storage vendor making its storage more cloud-friendly. Its main storage rival NetApp also offers its unified primary storage and backup options that run in the cloud, and many startups focus on cloud compatibility and multi-cloud management from the start.

Grocott said Dell’s overall multi-cloud strategy is to provide a consistent operating model experience on premises, as well as in private and public clouds. That strategy covers Dell EMC and VMware products. Dell EMC VxRail is among the products that tightly integrates VMware with the vendor’s storage.

“That’s what we think is going to differentiate us from any of the competition out there,” he said. “Whether you’re protecting data or storing data, the learning curve of your operating model — regardless of whether you’re on premises or off premises — should be zero.”

Stu Miniman, a principal analyst at IT research firm Wikibon, said Dell EMC is moving toward what Wikibon calls a True Private Cloud.

Wikibon’s 2018 True Private Cloud report predicts almost all enterprise IT will move to a hybrid cloud model dominated by SaaS and true private cloud. Wikibon defines true private cloud as completely integrating all aspects of a public cloud, including a single point of contact for purchase, support, maintenance and upgrades.

“The new version of the private cloud is, let’s start with the operating model I have in the public cloud, and that’s how I should be able to consume it, bill it and manage it,” Miniman said. “It’s about the software, it’s about the usability, it’s about the management layer. Step one is to modernize the platform; step two is to modernize the apps. It’s taken a couple of years to move along that spectrum.”

HiveIO seeks to create buzz in HCI market

Newcomer HiveIO Inc. is trying to make it in the already crowded hyper-converged infrastructure market by touting a software-only application that it claims uses AI for resource management.

HiveIO this week released Hive Fabric 7.0, its hyper-converged application. The vendor, based in Hoboken, N.J., has actually been around since 2015 and shipped its first version of Hive Fabric that same year, but has kept a low profile until now. HiveIO’s co-founders Kevin McNamara and Ofer Bezalel came out of JP Morgan Chase’s engineering team. HiveIO CTO McNamara said the goal was to create an infrastructure that consisted of one platform, was simple to use and was inexpensive.

“They thought about a single product, single vendor, hyper-converged fabric out of the box that just deploys and just works and reduces the complexity of the data center,” said HiveIO CEO Dan Newton, who joined HiveIO last April from Rackspace. “Our team comes from an operational background, and we’re focused on making our product operationally very easy, yet very stable. We try to make the technology work for the customers. We don’t want the customers to have to work to make it work.”

Newton said HiveIO has about 400 customers, including those it picked up by acquiring the assets of HCI software vendor Atlantis Computing in July 2017. HiveIO also inherited Atlantis’ OEM deal with Lenovo, which packaged Atlantis’ HCI software on its servers. However, HiveIO has no other hardware partnerships for Hive Fabric.

Newton said the goal is to provide HCI software that can deploy in 20 minutes on three nodes and requires little training to use.

We put the Message Bus into appliances and use machine learning to manage the appliances.
Kevin McNamaraCTO, HiveIO

HiveIO describes Hive Fabric as a “zero-layer, hardware-agnostic” hyper-converged platform that runs on any x86 server or in the cloud. Hive Fabric includes a free kernel-based virtual machine hypervisor, although it can also run with VMware and Microsoft hypervisors. Hive Fabric manages storage, compute, virtualization and networking across HCI clusters through its Message Bus. It includes a REST API and Universal Rest Interface to support third-party and customer applications.

McNamara called the artificial intelligence-driven Hive Fabric Message Bus “unique to the industry.” he said the Message Bus relies on AI and metadata to format data in real-time and provide predictive analytics to prevent potential performance and capacity problems.

“It’s all integrated into the stack,” McNamara said. “We can see everything in the hardware, everything in the stack, everything in the guest server and everything in the application layers. We put the Message Bus into appliances and use machine learning to manage the appliances. You can move workloads across appliances.”

Newton added, “Every piece of data point all comes through the Message Bus.”

HiveIO released Hive Fabric 7.0 this week, simplifying resource management through a Cluster Resource Scheduler (CRS). The CRS uses AI to monitor resource allocation across the cluster, and moves guest virtual machines between servers to improve operational efficiency. Hive Fabric 7.0 also allows customers to run multiple mixed-application workloads.

Hive Fabric 7 from HiveIO
HiveIO’s Hive Fabric 7 management dashboard.

Forrester Research senior analyst Naveen Chhabra said HiveIO will need to prove its AI capabilities to make it in an HCI field that includes at least 15 vendors.

“A number of companies already have proven technology — including Nutanix, Cisco, Dell EMC, VMWare,” Chhabra said. “HiveIO can do the same, but they must deliver at least table stakes technology, and then find out what innovations they can come up with. They talk about the interconnect fabric with artificial intelligence. It’s a transport layer for sending bits and bytes from one node to another. What kind of artificial intelligence does it have? Is it artificial intelligence or just AI washing like you hear from other vendors? And they have to find a strong use case for that artificial intelligence, even if it’s just one use case.”

HiveIO executives claim their early customers’ workloads include general server virtualization, virtual desktops, databases, log analysis and test/dev.

Hive Fabric is sold as a monthly subscription based on the number of physical servers with no restrictions on memory, storage or cores.

HiveIO promises to support Atlantis Computing hyper-converged and virtual desktop infrastructure software through 2022. Newton said HiveIO will offer Atlantis customers an upgrade path to Hive Fabric. He said HiveIO hired some Atlantis employees but is not using its technology in Hive Fabric.

HiveIO has 30 employees in the U.S. and U.K. It has completed two funding rounds and lists El Dorado Ventures, Rally Ventures, Osage Venture Partners and Citrix as investors but does not disclose its total funding.

IBM DS8882F converges array and mainframe in one rack

Talk about converged infrastructure — IBM just embedded an all-flash array inside mainframe server racks.

IBM today launched a rack-mounted IBM DS8882F array for IBM Z ZR1 and LinuxOne Rockhopper II “skinny” mainframes that rolled out earlier in 2018. The 16U DS8882F is the smallest of IBM’s high-end DS8880 enterprise storage family designed for mainframes. The new mainframes install in a standard 19-inch rack. The IBM DS8882F array inserts into the same rack and scales from 6.4 TB to 368.64 TB of raw capacity.

The IBM DS8882F is part of a large IBM storage rollout that features mostly software and cloud storage updates, including the following:

  • IBM Spectrum Protect1.6 data protection software now supports automatic tiering to object storage and ransomware protection for hypervisor workloads. The software generates email warnings pointing to where an infection may have occurred. Spectrum Protect supports Amazon Web Services, IBM Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
  • IBM Spectrum Protect Plus1.2 virtual backup now supports on-premises IBM Cloud Object Storage, IBM Cloud and AWS S3. It also supports VMware vSphere 6.7, encryption of vSnap repositories, and IBM Db2 databases.
  • IBM Spectrum Scale0.2 added file audit logging, a watch folder and other security enhancements, along with a GUI and automated recovery features. Spectrum Scale on AWS now enables customers to use their own AWS license and supports a single file system across AWS images.
  • The IBM DS8880 platform supports IBM Cloud Object Storage and automatically encrypts data before sending it to the cloud.

The products are part of IBM’s third large storage rollout this year. It added an NVMe FlashSystem 9100 and Spectrum software in July, and cloud-based analytics and block-based deduplication in May.

Steve McDowell, senior technology analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said IBM has become the most aggressive of the large storage vendors when it comes to product delivery.

“IBM storage is marching to a cadence and putting out more new products faster than its competitors,” McDowell said. “We’re seeing announcements every quarter, and their products are extremely competitive.”

IBM ended a string of 22 straight quarters of declining storage revenue in early 2017 and put together four quarters of growth until declining again in the first quarter of 2018. IBM’s storage focus has been around its Spectrum software family and all-flash arrays.

IBM’s focus on footprint

McDowell called the IBM DS8882F “a nice piece of hardware.” “The zSeries is moving towards a more standard rack, and this fits right in there with almost 400 TB of raw capacity in a 19-inch rack,” he said. “It’s about capacity density and saving floor space. If I can put a zSeries and a rackmount of storage unit side by side, it makes a nice footprint in my data center.”

“The days of an EMC VMAX spanning across your data center are gone. With flash, it’s how many terabytes or petabytes I can put into half a rack and then co-locate all of that with my servers.”

Eric Herzog, chief marketing officer for IBM storage, said reducing the footprint was the main driver of the array-in-the-mainframe.

“We created a mini-array that literally screws into the same 19-inch mainframe rack,” Herzog said. “This frees up rack space and floor space, and gives you a smaller, lower-cost entry point.”

Competing in a crowded market

IBM’s DS8880 series competes with the Dell EMC PowerMax — the latest version of the VMAX — and the Hitachi Vantara Virtual Storage Platform as mainframe storage platforms.

IBM storage revenue rebounded to grow in the second quarter this year, but the market remains crowded.

IBM’s Herzog said the storage market “is fiercely competitive in all areas, including software. It’s a dog-eat-dog battle out there. Software is just as dog-eat-dog as the array business now, which is unusual.”

The new products are expected to ship by the end of September.

Agile Networks and Microsoft announce agreement to deliver broadband internet access to rural communities in Ohio – Stories

The agreement will leverage underutilized infrastructure in counties across the state, bringing high-speed internet access to 110,000 people in rural areas without broadband

CANTON, OH (AUGUST 8, 2018) – Today, Agile Networks, a leading provider of telecommunications solutions, and Microsoft Corp. announced a new agreement to bring broadband internet access to rural areas in Ohio, reaching 110,000 currently unserved people and greatly expanding access in underserved rural areas. The partnership is part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative, which is focused on closing the broadband gap by extending broadband access to 2 million unserved people in rural America by 2022.

This partnership leverages Agile’s robust network of telecommunications infrastructure throughout the state and cutting-edge technology, including TV white spaces, to provide more people living in rural Ohio with access to broadband internet over the next four years.

“People across the state, no matter where they choose to live, work and send their children to school, should have the same access to strong, reliable broadband service,” said Kyle Quillen, Agile Networks Founder and CEO. “This partnership will have an impact on more than 900,000 people across the state of Ohio, of whom 110,000 completely lack access to broadband. We’re excited to partner with Microsoft as part of this national initiative to ensure everyone has access to the information they need, when they need it.”

“In today’s digital economy, broadband access has become a necessity across industries including healthcare, agriculture, business and education,” said Shelley McKinley, Microsoft’s head of Technology and Corporate Responsibility. “Our partnership with Agile will help deliver broadband internet access to rural communities across Ohio so that they can take advantage of today’s and tomorrow’s opportunities and the latest cloud technologies.”

Across Ohio, there are critical functions in need of reliable, high-speed connectivity, including medical clinics and rural hospitals, schools, oil and gas wells, agriculture operations, and households. By equipping its towers with innovative TV white spaces equipment, Agile’s efforts, in partnership with Microsoft, will enhance public safety interoperability across the state of Ohio, while providing competitive, affordable broadband access options to rural consumers and businesses, as well as turnkey solution sets tailored to fixed and mobile wireless carriers. As a result, this project will serve as a catalyst for economic development and rural broadband deployment in Ohio.

The Microsoft Airband Initiative is focused on bringing broadband coverage to rural Americans through commercial partnerships and investment in digital skills training for people in the newly connected communities. Proceeds from Airband connectivity projects will be reinvested into the program to expand broadband to more rural areas.

About Agile Networks

Agile Networks is the premier provider of hybrid fiber wireless broadband data networks, supplying connectivity to empower individuals and transform organizations. Agile Networks’ hybrid network – The Agile Network – utilizes vertical infrastructure along with the latest in fiber-optic and wireless technologies to provide world-class data solutions. Engineered to the stringent specifications required to support public safety, The Agile Network boasts carrier grade performance and military-grade security. Agile’s Last-Mile Agility makes delivering solutions to rural areas just as feasible as major cities

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

AGILE PRESS CONTACT:
Chris Herbert  614-448-8703  [email protected]
Evan Weese  614-282-9822    [email protected]

MICROSOFT PRESS CONTACT:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777,

[email protected]

Cisco lays groundwork for augmented reality in Cisco Webex app

An overhaul of the back-end infrastructure and user interface of the Cisco Webex app, rolling out this month, lays the groundwork for the vendor to expand support for augmented reality, virtual reality and other advanced video-centric technologies.

The redesign, which will be released throughout August, prioritizes video and simplifies scheduling, calendar management and in-meeting controls. Beyond that, the vendor has enhanced the cloud infrastructure that powers the video conferencing platform.

The announcement is the result of years of platform work that will allow the Cisco Webex app to better use the public cloud in conjunction with its private cloud video infrastructure, said Sri Srinivasan, vice president and general manager of the vendor’s team collaboration group.

“We’re putting the plumbing together for intelligent experiences across the board,” Srinivasan said. “I don’t think we’re ready to talk about everything AR/VR [augmented reality and virtual reality] on Webex yet, but think of it as the base plumbing.”

In April, Cisco announced that Apple iOS users would be able to share augmented reality files during meetings within the Cisco Webex app. A team of architects could use the feature to view — and edit in real time — a three-dimensional blueprint of a building they were designing, for example.

Cisco also recently began a beta partnership with startup Atheer Inc. to let Webex customers use that vendor’s AR platform, which is compatible with AR smart glasses from vendors such as Microsoft and Toshiba.

A field worker wearing smart glasses could use Atheer’s software to share a video feed of his or her current view to a meeting within the Cisco Webex app. Team members could then upload documents or drawings to the worker’s smart glasses to help solve a problem.

Cisco has been at the vanguard of combining immersive technologies with collaboration apps, analysts said. Microsoft has also taken steps to add AR to its collaboration portfolio. This spring, Microsoft released previews of two new AR apps for Microsoft HoloLens that integrate with Microsoft Teams.

“Microsoft, with HoloLens, is quite prominent these days, and they have a set of specialized applications,” said Adam Preset, analyst at Gartner. “Cisco will have opened up options to do the same with the Atheer partnership, but they’ll also have brought AR into a common application people use every day in Webex.”

Augmented reality use cases limited, but expanding

So far, augmented reality has seen the most adoption in the fields of healthcare, oil and gas production, and manufacturing, said J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. But the technology would be useful in any vertical with a high proportion of field workers and significant visualization needs, he said.

By 2019, 20% of large enterprises are expected to have evaluated and adopted augmented reality, virtual reality or mixed reality technology, according to projections by Gartner. Field services, logistics, training and analytics are the most common uses cases in the enterprise market at this point, according to the firm.

Immersive commerce could soon become a typical use case of augmented reality, said Marty Resnick, analyst at Gartner. Customer service agents could use AR tools to help customers fix a problem they are having at home with a product.

IDC predicted global spending on augmented and virtual reality technologies will grow at a compound annual rate of 71.6% between 2017 and 2022. Consumers will drive most of that growth, but the verticals of retail, transportation and manufacturing are also expected to ramp up investments in such products.

“Expect more consumer and business applications to leverage AR. And within seven years, it will just be another part of the conference, marketing and business collaboration stack,” said Wayne Kurtzman, analyst at IDC.