Friday, 30 May 2008

HP Give It Large

Yesterday afternoon I had an opportunity to meet with HP as part of an informal session to make contact with storage bloggers. HP are obviously interested in the possible benefits keeping the blogging community well informed could bring, however my blog is not to act as a mouthpiece for the HP marketing department and I'd suggest if you want to keep abreast of their technology releases, use this XML link.

What's more interesting is where HP storage is headed. Take for example their new Extreme Storage solution. A scalable NAS product which reaches the heady heights of 820TB in a single unit. Fantastic you may think, and I guess if you have a real need for this volume of data in a single unit, then it's the one for you.

However, apart from the obvious issues like whether your raised floor can actually take the weight of a fully configured device (and how do you cool this kind of beast), what troubles me more is how much data on a system like this is actually of any use.

Although the ExDS9100 is aimed at delivering storage for high performance solutions, I think there is a risk of arrays like this being deployed to defer the hard work of actually classifying and setting sensible deletion policies, which, let's face it, for most companies has sat as a task in the "too hard box" for as long as NAS storage has been around. It may well be that some customers see this product as a way to defer the inevitable and actually start managing their data.

Anyway, fair play to HP for entering the market and making use of their Polyserve acquisition and fair play to them for wanting to talk to the blogging community too. If I get any juicy nuggets of information (like whether HP have a position on cloud storage), you can be sure I'll share it here.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

UK Email and Phone Database

The BBC reported today that the UK government is planning a tracking database for all phone calls made and emails sent in the UK.

This strikes me as an unbelievably stupid plan. In the first place, every UK citizen will be baulking at this incredible intrusion into civil liberties. Second, it is highly unlikely that the government could ever deliver such a database based on their previous track record with developing and deploying large scale IT projects - think of the UK tax system and new NHS IT system (which will apparently be 4 years behind schedule). Will this database contain all the content of the calls or just a list of who called/emailed who?

Assuming the former, let's do some "back of the fag packet" calculations...

According to the Mobile Operators Association, there were 70 million mobile subscribers at the end of 2006, with an average 100 minutes per user per month and 12 text messages per week. That's 84,000,000,000 minutes and 43,680,000,000 text messages in a 12 month period, the timescale the database is expected to hold data for.

Using the following forum posting referring to Skype, a conservative estimate of bandwidth is 30kb/s or about 225KB per minute. A text message is a maximum of 160 characters. This means the government database would need a 12 month capacity of only 6.36TB to store the text messages (assuming no database or filesystem overhead) but a whopping 17.6PB of storage to hold the voice calls. Let's assume those calls are made consistently over the course of a year, then the system would need to ingest about 600MB/s of data.

Now, I would imagine even the UK government wouldn't be stupid enough to attempt to store the content of all those calls (I didn't even attempt to calculate the email traffic). If they don't, let's face it, you have to question what the point is, if the content isn't being recorded as anyone with any nefarious intent will simply use anonymous pay-as-you-go SIM cards and bypass all the tracking. Still, at an efficiency of say, 40%, the 44PB potentially needed could set up the lucky EMC or HDS salesperson for life! I wonder if any of them have done the same calculation as me....?

Friday, 9 May 2008

Nexsan going public

I've been reading the Nexsan statement announcing their intention to go public. I don't know much about their products other than they sell high density storage systems. What intrigued me about reading the announcement is the amount of exposure to the internal operation of the business occurs when statements are made to SEC as part of a flotation.

For instance, Nexsan have never made a profit, although their losses are declining year on year. They list their competitors, including all the usual suspects like EMC, HDS and HP, but quote Dell and Equallogic (now Dell) at the beginning of the list; this gives you an idea of the position in the market they see themselves in.

Nexsan don't run a direct sales force; they rely on Kodak for their support arm; they are reliant on Bell Microproducts for their disk drives; they rely on three subcontractors to manufacture their equipment; they are reliant on channel partners to install products at client sites.

So if I invested, what exactly would I be getting? Well I guess IP is the key value and that's exactly what the company will be rated on the value of. The more Nexsan can reduce costs by removing the dependency on external suppliers and the more they can acquire and use their own IP, then the more chance the company has of reaching that profit goal.

Remember 3Par? They launched last November at $14 a share and are now trading at a more $8.37. I wouldn't be betting the kids' college fund just yet....