Novell Filr product insight being arranged

Hello reader,

I can see that there are a lot of interests for the Novell Filr and let me assure you that I am already speaking with Novell to introduce this solution soon when it comes available next year.

I am hoping to get a front row seat and even better, be the first in Malaysia to test this product extensively. I can’t make any promises at this point but Novell Country Manager for Malaysia and South Asia will be in Australia this month to help get my enthusiasm across to their corporate people. (Fingers crossed).

I thank you for your support.

Thank you
/storagegaga 🙂

Atempo – 3 gals, 1 guy and 1 LB handbag

I have known Atempo for years and even contacted them once when I was in NetApp several years ago. I don’t know much about them until a friend recently took up the master resellership of Atempo here in Malaysia. And when people ask me “Atempo who?”, I would reply “3 gals, 1 guy and 1 LB handbag”.

Atempo, is a company that specializes in data protection and archiving solutions and has been around for almost 20 years. They compete with Symantec Netbackup, Commvault Simpana and Bakbone Netvault and I have seen their solutions. It’s pretty decent and with an attractive price as well. Perhaps they don’t market themselves as strongly as some the bigger data protection companies, but I would recommend to anyone, any day. If you need more information, contact me.

But the usual puzzled faces will soon go away once they start recognizing Atempo’s solutions because that is where my usual Atempo introduction comes from – their solutions.

Atempo has 5 key products

  • Time Navigator (TINA)
  • Live Navigator (LINA)
  • Atempo Digital Archive (ADA)
  • Atempo Digital Archive for Messaging (ADAM)
  • Live Backup (LB)
Wow, with a cool one like ADAM, 3 hotties in TINA, LINA and ADA, plus LV, err, I mean LB,what more can you ask for?So, before you get into kinky ideas (a foursome?), Atempo is attempting (pun intended ;-)), to take up of your mindshare when it comes to data backup and data archiving.
I am planning to find out more about Atempo in the coming months. Things have been hectic for me but my good buddy now the master reseller of Atempo in Malaysia will make sure that I focus on Atempo more.
Later – guy, gals and a nice handbag. 😀

Novell Filr (How do you pronounce this?)

I let you in on a little secret … I am a great admirer of Novell’s technology.

Ok, ok, they aren’t what they used to be anymore (remember the great heydays of Netware, ZenWorks and Groupwise?) And some of their business decisions didn’t make a lot of fans either. Some notable ones in recent years were the joint patent agreement with Microsoft (November 2006) and their ownership of Unix operating system rights. Though Novell did finally protected the Unix community by being the rightful owner of Unix OS rights, the negativity from the lawsuit and counter lawsuit between SCO and Novell soured the relationship with the faithfuls of Unix. In the end, they were acquired by Attachmate late last year.

However, I have been picking up bits of Novell technology knowledge for the past 3-4 years. Somehow, despite the negative perception that most people I know had about Novell, I strongly believe the ideas and thinking that goes into their solutions and products are smart and innovative.

So, when my buddy (and ex-housemate) of mine, Mr. Ong Tee Kok, the Country Manager of Novell Malaysia, asked me to evaluate a new solution from Novell (it’s not even been released yet), I jumped at the chance.

Novell will soon be announce a solution called Novell Filr. I really don’t know how to pronounce the name, but the concept of Novell Filr makes a lot of sense. I cannot say that it is disruptive but it is coming to meet the changing world of how users are storing and accessing their files and balancing it with the needs of enterprise file management and access.

Yes, Novell Filr is a file virtualization solution. It comes between the user and their files. Previously in a network attached environment, files are presented to the users via the typical file sharing protocols, CIFS for Windows and NFS for Unix/Linux. These protocols have been around for ages, with some recent advents in the last few years for SMB 2.0 and NFS version 4. However, the updates to these protocols address the greater needs of the organizations and the enterprise rather than the needs of the users.

And because of this, users have been flocking to cloud-centric solutions out there such as DropBox, Box.net and Windows Live SkyDrive. These solutions cater to the needs of the users wanting to access their files anywhere, with any device. Unfortunately, the simplicity of file access the “cloud-way” is not there when the users are in the office network. They would have to be routinely reminded by the system administrator to keep the files in some special directory to have their files backed up. Otherwise, they shall be ostracized by the IT department and their straying files will not be backed up.

Well, Novell will be introducing their Novell Filr soon and they have released a video of their solution. Check this out.

I shall be spending some time this week to look into their solution deeper and hoping to see a demo soon. And I have great confidence in the Novell solutions. I intend to share more about them later.

HDS acquires BlueArc … no surprise

After my early morning exercise routine, I sat down with my laptop hoping to start a new blog entry when a certain HDS news caught my eye. Here’s one of them.

It is of no surprise to me because all along, HDS hardly had a competitive, high-end NAS to compete of their own. Their first Linux-based NAS sucks, and HNAS wasn’t really successful either. But their 5-year OEM with BlueArc gave HDS an strong option to be in the NAS space.

As usual, HDS is as cautious as ever. While the 800-pound EMC has been on a shopping spree for the past 3-4 years, NetApp acquiring a few (note Engenio, Bycast, Akkori, Onaro) along the way, the only notable acquisition made by HDS was Archivas (news here). That was waaaaaay back in 2007. However, what prompted the HDS reaction was a surprise to me. According to Network Computing, it was IBM who wanted to acquire BlueArc, hence triggering HDS to have the first right to fork out the dough for BlueArc.

Why does IBM want to acquire BlueArc? IBM is sliding and lacking the storage array technology of their own. Only XIV and StorWiz(e) are  worth mentioning because their DS-series and N-series belong to NetApp. Their SONAS is pretty much a patchwork of IBM GPFS servers.  In fact, from the same Network Computing article, IBM has terminated their Data DirectNetworks storage back-end and just initiated the sourcing of the storage back-end from NetApp. It is good money to NetApp, but bad for IBM. Their story don’t gel anymore and their platform portfolio staggers as we speak.

This will definitely prompt IBM competitors to sharpen their knives. HP is renewing their artillery with 3PAR and LeftHand, and also IBRIX while Dell is coming out with guns blazing from Compellent, EqualLogic, a bit of Exanet and pretty soon, Ocarina Networks (this is a primary storage deduplication technology). Though Dell lost market share in the last IDC figures, and most likely because of lost EMC sales, they seem to be looking good with Compellent and EqualLogic. HP, is still renewing, and perhaps when they are done ditching their PC business, they should have more focus on the enterprise. Meanwhile, HDS has been winning market share in the last IDC quarter and doing well with their own VSP and AMS series.

HP and Dell have reloaded, and EMC and NetApp coming into the market as storage juggernauts. IBM cannot afford to sit quietly. How long is IBM prepared to do that as the world passes them by?

As for HDS, they are pitching their story together. AMS on the low and mid-end, VSP on the mid to high end. BlueArc fits into the NAS and scale-out NAS space. Yup, they are getting there.

We do not hear much about BlueArc from HDS Malaysia, but be prepared to know more about them soon. Wonder how HDS would rename BlueArc? H-BLU? H-ARC?

Funny Microsoft Cloud video – has Microsoft seen a mirror lately?

I am no virtualization expert, but any IT guy would be able to tell you how far ahead VMware is in the virtualization space. (note that I am not talking about the cloud space)

Virtualization is the cornerstone of Cloud Computing and everyone is claiming they are Cloud-this or Cloud-that. So is Microsoft but when it comes to the virtualization game, Microsoft Hyper-V has much to catch up to, if it ever catches up with VMware.

As what they have done in the past to other technologies (think Netscape), they cast a industry wide suffocation strategy that snuff the lights out of their competitors. But things have changed and new proponents such as Open Source, Mobile Computing and Cloud Computing are not going to be victims of Microsoft aphyxiation strategy (come on, Ballmer, try something new). Hence when I found this video

I found it really funny. It was likely Microsoft was poking at itself, without knowing it.

From the words of Mahatma Gandhi,

“First they ignore you,

then they laugh at you,

then they fight you,

then you win”

This is what Microsoft do best … throwing dirt at the competitor. Hmmm….

HP likely to buy Autonomy

Just saw the news. Here’s the link –http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/business/article/hp-may-drop-pcs-to-buy-autonomy-for-us11.7b/

HP could buy British software maker Autonomy. Just months ago, Autonomy just acquired Iron Mountain Digital’s asset with solutions such as Connected Backup, and the previous Mimosa Nearpoint.

Again, there is no value in the PC business anymore and it is only logical that HP is focusing on high value and high margin IT solutions. More news could follow.

Storage jobs are paid higher

The human capital is important in the IT industry. Yet, we are facing a situation where there is a steady supply of storage-related jobs, but the supply of human resources and skills to these jobs is seriously lacking. Even if there are many people applying for these positions, the good ones are far and few.

What’s happening? Malaysia has been stuck in a rut for quite a few years now trying to raise good quality human capital, especially in the IT sectors. God knows how hard agencies such as MDeC and others IT bodies have been trying to increase the awareness and supply of good quality IT people for the IT industry. In storage, the situation is even more acute because storage has been seen as the one of the unglamourous jobs. That is why there are likely to have more networking techies than storage techies.

We all know IT is all about data and information and the data and information are created, stored, modified, stored-again, replicated, migrated, archived and deleted IN STORAGE. Data has to reside in storage and memory before it can be used. And don’t forget that memory is temporary, volatile storage. It’s plain and simple – data has to be in some form of storage before it can be used.

I have been fairly disturbed by the fact that storage remains one of the most important foundations of IT and yet, the pool of good storage networking and data management professionals is seriously shallow, especially in Malaysia. The good ones are out there, kept as prized assets of the company they work for. But cloud computing is here, and the demand for storage professionals is greater than ever.

I went out and did some research, using the salary factor as the main criteria for storage jobs. And here’s what I found –>

 

The information source of the above chart is Certification Magazine Salary Survey 2009. I hope the table isn’t too small to read but here’s what I can summarize in the table below. The rows in red are the storage-related jobs.

 

Yes, the information is a bit old but it tells a tale. Storage professionals’ salary with the value that the storage certifications carry are in the upper echelons of the pay scale. At the same time during my research, I also found this page of information from Foote Partners LLC – 2011 IT Skills & Certification Pay Index.

And again, storage certification is usually higher in percentage than the median average pay premium.

However, all these information are from the US where skills and experience are valued highly because they drive innovation and sales.

Sadly, this cannot be always true in Malaysia because the IT economy in Malaysia has not reached the level of innovation that drives new technologies in the country’s economy. I think this is all our fault. Why? Here’s what I think

  • We go for the easy ones
  • We don’t want to learn anymore after we started working in IT
  • We don’t set high targets for ourselves
  • We accept things as they are – something to us being apathy towards things
  • We have other things on our mind – like politics, inflation and so on
  • We don’t innovate

And this is something that saddens me.

A few years ago, I was at a local FOSScon where the open source geeks and nerds and gurus convene. I was there for 2 reasons – to have a bit of fun, but more importantly, I was looking for people who had skills with kernel and file systems. Sadly, I found none after 2 days at the event. Almost all developers I spoke to where developing in PHP, mySQL, Python, Ruby-on-Rails and so on. This was a clear signal that most Malaysian developers were taking the easy way out (point #1 above). No one was programming in C, C++, and working on hardcore stuff like device drivers, networking protocols and so on.

Since we did not go out and outdo ourselves and innovate, we did not create an innovative IT economy that is the key for creating demand. Most IT companies in Malaysia would prefer playing the pass-through game i.e. “let’s pass through this deal with this reseller”, knowing full well that the reseller is there for relationship connections, not value-add. Hence point #1 again.

I recall another incident that also vivid in my mind. I was decommissioning some Sun JavaStations in the backroom of a premier, “multimedia” university in Melaka. I looked at the lecture that was going on and the instructor was teaching ApplixWord. I asked one of the students and he told me that the course was 2 (or was it 1) credit hours. It came as a big shocker to me because an premier IT multimedia university was teaching the most basic of the basics of word processing. A university is supposed to be the institution to ignite creativity and innovation, but this university was droning its students on word processing. No wonder our IT economy sucks because we set such f*cking low standards for ourselves (point #3).

What I would like to see if IT people go out of the box they didn’t know they were confined to in the first place, and learn/share and learn/share and learn/share. Be creative, be innovative, be bold.

I have been blessed with like-minded people who can do a good hack and build something that can compete with the big boys like EMC, IBM, HP and the likes. But these people are far and few.

Today, I am looking for more of such people, people who are f*cking (pardon me French but I am the passionate one) good with storage networking and data management stuff. I am looking for people who can innovate to create the real Silicon Valley culture in Malaysia. We don’t need fancy ministers to officiate or glamourous events launching but the real hackers, entrepreneurial junkies and those pioneering spirited wackos (in a good way), to define what this IT economy is all about!

Going Ga Ga over Storage Networking

Before you start thinking that I am ripping off Lady Gaga, this blog’s name of “Storage Gaga” is NOT from Lady Gaga. It’s from Queen’s Radio Ga Ga song which I happen to be listening in my car.

Why Ga Ga? Ga Ga in the Free Dictionary (link: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/gaga) means crazy over something (at least one of the meanings anyway). That’s what I am. Since leaving my last job – which was on Tuesday (July 19th 2011) this week – I want to do more for storage networking and data management. I want to share things I find out, information that I have learned and so on.

So watch this space for more info … more on the way.

p/s. This rainy morning, I am going to arrange and organize all my computer books. It’s going to be fun!