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VMworld Storage Recap: Nutanix, Nasuni, ManageEngine, Micron and Imation

There are plenty of storage product announcements at a big IT show like the 2013 edition of VMworld, and our intrepid reporting staff does a great job of covering those product rollouts, whether they’re blockbuster announcements or enhancements on a more modest scale. But besides the new-stuff ballyhoo, it’s always interesting to catch up with the storage vendors to get a little of the “local color” related to new and upcoming products.


Nutanix is one of the pioneers of the “hyper-converged” model where storage, servers, network and hypervisors are tightly packed in a preconfigured package, and it claims to be gaining some traction in the market. Howard Ting, their vice president of worldwide marketing, said that based on the last quarter, they’re on track for an $80M annual run rate. Right now they have about 300 customers. Initially targeting the midmarket, they’re moving up the ladder to the enterprise, where they say they have 30 to 40 Global 2000 accounts. About 50% of their customers are using their gear for virtual desktops, with another 30% running virtual server environments on the Nutanix box. A typical configuration averages 15 to 20 nodes, but Nutanix said they’re currently developing a 1600-node installation for a customer. Noting that “all our intellectual property is software” and that their systems are built on “commodity components,” Ting said it’s conceivable that Nutanix might sell a software-only product in the future.


Bridging data centers and cloud storage services has been Nasuni’s forte, and they’ve recently enhanced their product and its place in the enterprise by beefing up the Nasuni Management Console that allows central management of multiple Nasuni filers. Customers use Nasuni filers in a variety of ways, said Karen Kiffney, manager of product marketing, but backup is likely the leading application to date, with linking ROBOs to the data center a close second. Many of their backup users have found that Nasuni sans backup app works fine for copying files to the cloud for basic backup. Nasuni doesn’t support “full” cloud-based DR as copies of data have to be downloaded from the cloud for recovery, but Kiffney said they’re working on virtual recovery in the cloud. On Nasuni’s roadmap, look for boosts in hardware performance and capacity as the company looks to better server larger companies.


Back in those dark old days, a lot of storage shops ponied up big bucks for storage resource management software (SRM) hoping the app suites would help them manage rapidly expanding storage operations. Unfortunately, a lot of those companies struggled with long and painful implementations only to find that a mere fraction of the suite’s features were useful for them. SRM suites earned the notorious sobriquet of “shelfware” as they often ended up stashed away and forgotten. ManageEngine, a subsidiary of online app provider Zoho Corp., seems to have avoided the pitfalls of past SRM attempts with a modular set of management applications that you can mix and match to assemble the appropriate control center for your environment, according to Raj Sabhlok, president. In addition to being able to select specific manage apps, you can also opt for either a perpetual license or a subscription. The storage management module is called OpStor, which you can get as a standalone app or with other apps to manage servers, networks, etc. A perpetual license fee for OpStor ranges from $3,995 (plus $799 annual maintenance) to $14,995 ($2,999) depending on the number of devices that will be supported; one-year subscriptions range from $1,495 to $6,995, with maintenance included. A try-before-you-buy program lets you download OpStor and try it out before making a purchase.


Micron, a key solid-state storage player, indicated that they’ll soon have an NVMe-compliant product. The new NVMe standard, based on PCIe, is expected to make managing server-based flash easier. Micron’s also been active in developing products around the latest solid-state buzz—3D Flash—along with companies like Samsung and Toshiba. A Micron spokesman said they announced their 3D work two years ago, but they’re approaching the technology cautiously as it’s not yet clear that 3D’s benefits will outweigh the added costs. The picture for triple-level cell (TLC) flash is similar; right now, Micron says that given the amount of development and engineering that’s gone into MLC it’s more economical than TLC at this point. Micron is also working on developing software to cluster server-based solid-state storage—an effort that’s combining internal efforts and partnering with third parties. They’re seeing growing demand for that kind of clustering.


Nexsan, Imation’s newest division by dint of its January 2013 acquisition, is rolling out new unified storage systems. Previously, Nexsan offered unified systems that paired iSCSI with NAS, but 60% to 65% of their customers wanted Fibre Channel connectivity, according to Mike Stolz, vice president of global marketing and support at Imation. While not all customers immediately take advantage of multiprotocol capabilities, it’s often seen as investment protection should storage needs change. As part of Imation, Nexsan can take advantage of its parent company’s extensive channel network based on its storage legacy as well as a deeper international reach. Although Nexsan systems were often used as backup targets, Stolz said their customers have gone well beyond that application, especially with Nexsan’s newer, higher performing systems. While Nexsan systems are being by cloud storage service providers, they haven’t seen much demand from end users for products that would integrate on-premises storage with those cloud storage services.

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