Posts Tagged ‘Nexenta’

The VMworld 2013 expo was all about storage, cloud (storage) and securing the data (on the storage). I wouldn’t be surprised if a trade show analyst declared this to be the enterprise storage event of the year and a preferred alternative to Storage Networking World (SNW). I’ll expect the same next year because the vendors I spoke with told me it was a good event for them. They said they met more end-users this year and most have exhibited for many years.

All in all it was a great event, but by the time I hit the expo the booth babes were looking a little rough.

Apocalypse

WD says “Apocalypse Never” but they were clearly wrong. This event had more than it’s share of zombies thanks to Bluelock, Sandbox and one other vendor (who deserves credit…help!).

I checked in with the storage-related vendors: Aberdeen, Asigra, Avere, Bluelock, Cloudbyte, Cloudfounders, Codefourtytwo, Commvault, Coraid, Dell, EMC, FalconStor, Fusion-io, Greenbytes, HDS, HP, Maginatics, Maxta, Micron, Nasuni, NetApp, Neverfail, Nexsan, Nexenta, Nimbus Data, Nutanix, Permixdata, Pure Storage, Qnap, Quantum, Racemi, Scality, Simplivity, sTec, Synology, Tegile, Tintri, Violin Memory, Virident, VirtunetSystems, WD, X-IO, Yuruware, Zadara, as well as other neat firms like Brocade, Cognizant, Rapid7, Sandbox, Splunk, Thinking Software and others.

From a marketing perspective it was clear that almost all the vendors had innovative products and if you gave the salespeople a chance they could articulate what makes their particular product special. Frankly, it was important to give them a chance to talk because many booths failed to adequately communicate to passers by what their company was selling, let alone what made their particular product special. It’s easy for marketers to assume that everyone else knows as much as they do about their offering. However, they assume too much. I can name 75+ Vendors Promoting an Enterprise Solution that Uses Flash Memory — that list excludes standard HDD-based storage, and most of the software solutions, including a gazillion backup/recovery products. There are easily 200+ firms vying for the attention of enterprise storage managers, analysts and journalists.

Nimbus Data was clear. They were showing “The most resilient, future-proof flash memory storage ever.” And, it must be fast to set records.

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Nimbus Data: An example of clear messaging.

Coraid’s value proposition was not immediately clear to me from their signage. However, when you talk with Coraid you can learn that their storage uses ATA over Ethernet, rather than iSCSI, Fibre Channel or Infiniband. I haven’t checked the specs., but they told me it was faster than iSCSI and Fibre Channel, it offers parallel performance, and it’s not limited by cable length. I’m sure storage buyers can see the value in that, especially if the price is right and they are open to another interconnect standard.

Coraid Sign

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas) pricing models helped differentiate some products. Bluelock offers recovery as a service where they continuously backup data to the cloud and enable failover to the cloud if an issue takes down the primary data center. Asigra also offers recovery as a service. Brocade allows enterprises use networking infrastructure on a subscription basis. Users rent the equipment and can return it anytime. Zadara will also ship hardware to customers on pay-as-you-go terms or you can subscribe to their multi-tenant infrastructure in such a way that the infrastructure used is dedicated and not otherwise shared. As a 4-P marketer I’m always interested in innovative pricing and place-of-sale (delivery) strategies so I’m looking forward to seeing if the hardware rent models work.

Brocade Sign

There were a number of Software Defined Storage and Unified Storage vendors and firms that are betting on a shift from SAN and NAS. Such firms include Cloudfounders, Nutanix, Scality, Simplivity, amongst others. The unified server/storage approach fits well with the development of DIMM-based Flash modules showcased at the recent Flash Memory Summit. Like PCIe Flash drives, the DIMM Flash fits directly into a server (like RAM) taking advantage of available DIMM slots. So with the right software, all the direct attach hard drives across multiple servers can be pooled and managed as a unit while the servers’ Flash is used as a cache for application acceleration.

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Nutanix. Interesting product and great booth (useful whiteboard)

The well known performance issues associated with VDI had all the Flash system vendors and Intelligent Caching products on display. Although most storage systems have some form of caching built in (usually read-only), Pernixdata offers read and write caching at the kernel level for VMs, eliminating latency. VirtunetSystems has a similar VMware enhanced offering.

Cloud storage also had a big presence with the most interesting being Maginatics and Nasuni. These firms cache cloud-based data so it works like the data on your local hard disk. Racemi offers cloud to cloud data migration service and charges only for successful migrations.

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Maginatics Booth. An iPad accessing the Cloud (no rack required)

Of course, all the typical storage product categories were represented — everything from innovative JBOD chassis, to backup/recovery/archive software, to RAID and Flash systems. However, I’ll leave the product reviews to the analysts and journalists and move on to other marketing related topics.

On the promotion side of things, firms love to make make big announcements at trade shows. StorageNewsletter reported 33 storage-related announcements for VMworld 2013. I’m not sure why everyone follows this strategy, other than a trade show is a useful milestone that can get the engineering team to release the product. My PR and lead gen. firm, Marketingsage, has looked at the publicity firms achieve with trade show timed announcements. Unless you are a really big firm with a really big announcement, most firms simply get a mention in a roundup that covers everyone’s announcements. However, if you take Marketingsage’s advice and announce either before or after the event, you can get a nice story all to yourself. It’s simple supply and demand. Provide news when it’s scarce and you’ll get better coverage.

That said, I did have a very amusing encounter with one startup that absolutely did not want to announce the product they were promoting at VMworld. As I approached their booth, a representative spotted my “Blogger” badge and immediately intercepted me, blocking my view. I asked about their product. He answered with a few nebulous words that meant absolutely nothing, despite the information on display on the booth wall and monitor. It was a conversation akin to a cop on TV asking the guy they just pulled over: “Is that your Porsche?” To which he answers nervously “It’s my friend’s. She said I could borrow it.” “What’s your friend’s name?” “I forget, she’s really just a friend of a friend.” “I see you’ve started her Porsche with a screwdriver, didn’t she give you a key?” “No, she lost her key and I wanted to surprise her by getting the car started without it…”

So what would you do if someone blocked your view and said something to the effect of “move along now, nothing to see here.” Precisely! I stayed. It turned out they are planning a big PR announcement when they add a few more customers and did not want to dilute that announcement. I’ve seen that before. Some marketers call it a “soft launch.” It doesn’t work well. The pundits will know about the product, because they see it at the events (or at a briefing). Like me, they may respect the vendor’s request not to go public (as if a trade show is not public). However, soon the so called news is not news to the people who deliver it to the public, so the eventual announcement fizzles. The soft launch becomes a weak launch.

There were two trade show innovations that I think are worth a mention. First, there were several booths with whiteboards (see the Nutanix picture above.) A whiteboard is really helpful when discussing a network or a software stack. The second was HP’s lightbox rack. Sure it’s just a picture, but I’ve always questioned the benefit of shipping a ton weight of equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, then having 2 engineers spend hours setting it up for a so called demo that amounts to a bunch of flashing lights. If it’s a canned demo, why not record it, ship the hardware face plates (blinking lights) and replay it on a screen?

HP Lightbox Rack

The HP Lightbox Rack

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

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The good people ay Sys-Con Events invited me to the Cloud Computing Conference & Expo.  The event was held November 7 through 10, 2011 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Northern California—one of my favorite venues. I was there on days 2 and 4 of this 4 day event.

Reportedly there were over 7,000 attendees that included CIOs, CTOs, directors of infrastructure, VPs of technology, IT directors and managers, network and storage managers, network engineers, enterprise architects, and communications and networking specialists.

As usual, I viewed the  event through the eyes of a marketer responsible for data storage and data management products. My firm, Marketingsage, helps clients generate sales leads, build brands, launch new products, and establish new sales channels so trade shows are important, especially for lead generation.

There were 4 days worth of speaking sessions, mostly presented by vendors. The general sessions that I attended all seemed to have large audiences, although the huge room was not full. There were also 7 special interest tracks with one  dedicated to those interested in Cloud Storage Virtualization APIs. Another was dedicated to Cloud Architecture, Security and Performance.

Session: How to Build a SaaS With Twitter-like Throughput

Session: How to Build a SaaS With Twitter-like Throughput

The Cloud Expo

The expo was small enough to ensure that every attendee could see every booth over the course of 4 days. There were about 100 exhibitors including VMware, McAfee, Oracle, and IBM.  The vast majority of booths were small 8′ or 10′ popups and they were packed pretty tightly. So on day 2 the aisles were crowded.

Day 2: Gale holds the crowd (in the aisle) with their presentation

However, by day 4 the aisles were really empty and the exhibitors were not busy at all. The crowds at the general presentations also thinned substantially, suggesting that the event may be enhanced by cutting it from 4 days to 3 days.

Day 4 (morning): SolidFire’s booth

Is Cloud Expo a Good Show for Marketing Storage products?

Is Cloud Expo a good show for marketing storage products? The answer depends on what type of storage product you are marketing. This show has 3 types of storage vendor: (1) hosted storage, (2) storage related software and (3) storage hardware.

The audience  favored those selling hosted storage/servers and storage management/monitoring software. Hosting firms included Amazon Web Services, Rackspace Hosting, SoftLayer, GoGrid, Virtustream, FireHost, and Zadara Storage, and PhoenixNAP to name but a few. Storage/data management/monitoring vendors included Abiquo, StorageCraft, Amplidata, MicroStrategy and Nimsoft, again to name but a few.

Storage infrastructure/hardware vendors did not flock to this event even though many tout their products for virtualized and cloud environments. I saw prominent solid state disk (SSD) vendor Fusion-io on an early exhibitor list, but they were not there.  Storage infrastructure exhibitors included solid state disk vendors SolidFire and LSI. Oracle also had a hard disk array on display. There were a few other hardware exhibitors that had storage components, but I wouldn’t classify them as storage infrastructure vendors.

LSI would win my prize for best storage infrastructure demo

Oracle displays bare metal

Morphlabs mCloud uses Dell servers, Arista Network switches and Nexenta’s storage manager. Each blade has its own 3.5 inch HDDs.

I asked several exhibitors whether they were happy with the Cloud Expo event. All said there were happy and would likely attend again next year. That’s a ringing endorsement, but I’m going to discount it a bit for the hardware infrastructure vendors by noting some factors important to me as a sales-centric marketer whose budget would be on the line.

The endorsers were not salespeople or MarCom people. They were product manager types so their expectations may be different to mine. Most were local to the area so they did not have to leave home to participate. Several commented about a high ratio of vendors to customers visiting their booth. And one commented that most visitors were not really storage infrastructure decision makers. However they were valued as potential influencers of such decisions.

So is Cloud Expo a good show for marketing storage products? Yes, if your target decision makers are focused on the cloud or virtualization application layer. I’m not ready to make a case for storage hardware vendors.

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).