More notes on supplier presence at Storage Expo in alphabetical order: Data Domain; FalconStor; Infortrend; Left Hand Networks; and Onaro.

Data Domain

Kevin Platz, Data Domain MD for EMEA sales, was a pleased man due to the following sequence of numbers: 2004 - $800K; 2005 - $8.1 million; 2006 - $47 million; 2007 - $47 million in the first half. These are sales revenue numbers. He said: "We are the one vendor that has delivered on de-duplication's exponential potential."

The Data Domain (DD) pitch is that it does de-dupe fast enough to be used for tier two storage as well as for backup to disk/virtual tape systems. It sees a real-world de-dupe ratio of 20:1, meaning a 1TB drive array can hold 200TB of data.

Platz says DD can de-dupe at 220MB/sec throughput. This isn't fast enough for transactional storage but is fine for relatively static, nearline data. The bottleneck for DD's in-line de-dupe is the chip. Currently it uses a 2-way processor. Platz says: "The technology will get faster and faster and become applicable to more types of data. With the coming 4-way processors we can increase performance 60 percent without adding new drivers, with no need for new code or more disks."

"We think it's possible to go on to primary storage. The inhibitor is speed. Within two or three chip generations we'll be at 400-500MB/sec throughput."

He says de-dupe can have a monstrously good effect on replication to remote sites with data streams shrunk to a twentieth of their raw size. Platz cited Telecom Italia which used it to eliminate the shipment of 60,000 tape cartridges a month between its datacentres.

What users can think of is having a second copy of archival data sent to a second machine in their datacentre in real time: "The ability to make copies becomes much easier. We'll have a second copy before you can do a backup. It's self-protecting data. With such de-dupe, data portability becomes much easier."

DD has two front end interfaces: VTL; and a CIFS/NFS one. Platz says more and more customers are opting for the simplicity of a CIFS/NFS interface over a VTL (virtual tape library) one. Veritas, Legato, etc, backup products can backup to a network-attached storage (NAS) box with CIFS/BFS just as easily to a VTL with traditional backup protocol.

Platz and DD are on a roll: sales are growing strongly; the product has a great go-faster roadmap; and it's green through reducing the disk storage needed by terabytes of data. In other words DD sales are set to carry on growing strongly because its products tick lots of current storage hot buttons.

FalconStor

FalconStor discussed two new virtual tape library (VTL) appliances: VTL-VA and VTL-S. The VTL-S is a software and hardware VTL appliance with de-duplication and a virtual tape library in one turnkey box. This combination of two functions in one box is said to be ideal for the SME market.

The VTL-VA is VTL-S software packaged as a virtual server.

Both are channel products and FalconStor will work with its channel partners to help them sell into the SME market.

It has no plans yet to extend its VTLs to other virtualisation platforms. They do have a customer using Xen on Germany but there is no specific product development here and its focus is on VMware.

FalconStor is selling more VTLs in Europe than in the USA. The new expertise centre in Toulouse helps this.

Infortrend

This is a drive array manufacturer which has introduced a new serial-attached SCSI (SAS) drive product line, EonStor. Alex Young, its director of technology and marketing, explained that Infortrend sold through distribution and resellers. It has no direct sales in the UK which explains why you may not have heard of it.

Think of its products as competing with EMC Clariion and arrays from Dot Hill and Xyratex. EonStor has RAID protection, Infortrend's own technology, and uses 3.5-inch drives - 2.5-inch ones will be introduced for customers needing higher array transaction rates. Fibre Channel disks are also available for such customers.

Alex Young overviewed Infortrends views on tiered storage with SAS 2.5-inch providing the top performance tier and 3.5-inch SATA providing the capacious tier two storage layer.

Infortrend develops its own controller and RAID technology and says the RAID controller 'is very high technology.' The RAID levels available include 0, 1, 3, 5 and 6 with 10, 30, 50 and 60. Next year 31, 51 and 61 will be added, being combinations of levels 3, 5 and 6 with RAID 1.

Young thinks there may be too many suppliers in the drive array market: "There isn't room for everybody in disk arrays. We think it is time for other vendors without core technology to look at Infortrend."

Infortrend is adding software (firmware), such as SANwatch which has a snapshot function, dramatically shortening the backup window. The snapshot is done by hardware and not software and there is a private area of the EonStor array used as a snapshot volume. Young says: "Most snapshots in the industry are carried out by software in a server which uses up server bandwidth."

Who uses Infortrend arrays? Prepare to be surprised:-

- CERN has 1,000 Infortrend units.
- Germany's biggest ISP has around 900 Infortrend arrays used for domain hosting.

An interesting market is CCTV recording for airports, football stadiums and railway stations.

Put Infortrend on your storage radar screen; you may well be hearing more of the company and its products.

Left Hand Networks

Henrik Larsen, Left Hand's EMEA marketing director, and Doug Rich, VP EMEA, described the new VSA or Virtual Storage appliance. They said Left Hand (LH) takes stranded storage - direct-attach storage (DAS) on ESX servers - and turns it into a virtual storage area network (SAN). They say a typical x86 ESX server will have four hard drives, with two taken for system software. LH's VSA can take the other two and group them into a virtual SAN along with other similarly stranded disks on other ESX servers. It's: "a natural 2-way fit."

VSA is for SME and remote offices/branch offices (ROBO) whereas their SAN IQ product is for enterprises. VSA is LH SAN SW packaged for the VMware environment. ROBO VSA can be managed remotely by a central SAN IQ installation. VSA is a downloadable product with a 30-day trial version available.

Henrik Larsen pointed out that: "EqualLogic can't do this, because its product is a hardware/software appliance." For LH: "Uncoupling the software from the hardware was key."

LH does ship LH-branded hardware appliances in the USA. Two new versions are coming. There will be a 2U rack unit with six hard drives, either serial ATA (SATA) or serial-attached SCSI (SAS). The other will be 4U high and support 15 hard drives, again SATA or SAS.

SAN IQ is shipped with HP, IBM, NSM, Dell hardware or on ESX systems. Asked about virtual environments other than VMware, Larsen said: "One could imagine adding other virtual server environments. We're talking to Xen." We shouldn't expect anything for six months or so though.

Onaro

Bryan Semple is VP marketing for Onaro. He discussed SANscreen which he described as: "not an SRM product. It's datacentre automation for storage. Customers have SRM already. We do storage automation to help admins build and optimise their storage environment. SRM is supposed to do that but it's not really heterogeneous. There's a great need for having your storage better integrated into datacentre operations."

SANscreen is an enterprise product and expends datacentre automation to the storage environment. Its marketing is somewhat hobbled by citing customers who are unwilling to go public.

For example, a global bank and financial services organisation whose SVP said SANscreen is: "A must-have for managing any storage environment." The company deployed SANscreen globally in six days and it is its world-wide standard for storage audit and compliance.

A European bank deployed it in four days and at once found 12TB of lost storage worth $600,000 together with 2,500 unused switch ports worth $1.5 million. Well, yes, you wouldn't want your ineptitude on such a scale made public.

Cisco is a public customer and it models and plans all SAN changes via SANscreen.

Basically if you are a global 2000 organisation and your SANs are giving you a management headache then have a look at SANscreen; it could make your migraine better.