Market Roundup

September 22, 2006

EMC Maps the Infoscape

IBM Launches Blade Migration Center

Data Retention and ISPs


EMC Maps the Infoscape

This week EMC announced Infoscape software and a related Information Management Strategy Service to aid customers in discovering, classifying, and managing unstructured enterprise information. With Infoscape, customers can search corporate information in file systems, classify information by business value, manage retention policies for compliance, and aid and abet policy-based and automated data migration across the storage infrastructure. According to EMC, the software automatically discovers information, assesses its importance, and executes pre-defined ILM policies. Infoscape leverage investments EMC has made through its acquisitions of Smarts, Legato, and Documentum, and brings together information management from several products into one user interface, a single installation, and a single information management paradigm. The product includes capabilities such as discovery of files in network shares, information classification into categories based on file metadata or actual file content, IT services management, orchestration of file movement between network shares and storage servers, and reporting and auditing of where information resides and how itís being managed. The new EMC Information Management Strategy Service is a consulting offering designed to help customers define proper policies, best practices, and procedures to manage unstructured information across its lifecycle.

Storage used to be a traffic job: focusing on where the data was parked and which routes it took to get between points. It never really mattered to storage professionals what the data was as long as it got from point A to point B in as quick and secure a manner as possible. However, one consequence of the rise of the Internet has been the swell of unstructured data within corporations and its growing importance as a business asset. There is a lot of unstructured information in the corporate network, its content affects business performance, and no one really knows a lot about it from an overarching level. Both IT managers and their business counterparts are concerned about this information and understand its importance; however, the trouble lies in first finding where all that data is, then classifying it relative to other data, and then deciding what to needs to be done with it over time. Business is being spurred to do something sooner rather than later due to regulation and compliance issues, but the challenge has been finding the software to make this a manageable process. This is where EMC believes Infoscape can help. It is designed to tackle exactly these issues. The important thing for users to remember is that even with the help of software like Infoscape, much work will be involved in preparing the policies, defining the rules and setting up the corporate taxonomy. The consultants may find themselves navigating the slippery slopes of corporate religion and politics to be at least as complex as navigating the storage architecture.

By helping customers map the information landscape, EMC is building the foundations for actually having information lifecycle management (ILM). Those much used and abused words can have real significance only if you know what your information is, where it is physically, where it is in its lifecycle, and how that impacts the storage subsystem that supports it. The end result, however, should make it worth the effort. Customers will find that products like Infoscape justify EMCís decision to position itself as a company helping customers get the most out of their information and not just another storage vendor. Additionally, products like Infoscape make clear what EMC has been doing acquiring products that might have seemed tangential or orthogonal to its traditional storage markets. Rather than merging brands or diluting existing productsí strengths, EMC is taking the technology within those products and combining them for new solutions. Itís taking a bit of time to bring new products to market, but we are pleased with the direction the company is taking.

IBM Launches Blade Migration Center

IBM has announced the Blade Migration Center, a program backed by a global team of 300+ consultants and technologists that targets organizations seeking to migrate to the IBM BladeCenter. The program is designed to help consolidate, migrate, and virtualize IT infrastructures on IBM BladeCenter with both free and fee-based migration services. IBM will also collaborate with its Business Partners to aid in their data migration services for clients while providing easy access to key IBM technologies and industry partners with solutions to address datacenter re-design and migration, including virtualization, datacenter cooling, and high-speed networking. Migration consultants will have access to the IBM Consolidation Discovery and Analysis Tool that recognizes untapped utilization and hidden servers across clients' networks and helps identify opportunities to consolidate systems. With PlateSpin PowerConvert, customers will be able to complete physical and virtual migration projects rapidly by eliminating the need to re-provision new Windows and Linux servers from scratch. The Cisco VFrame Server Fabric Virtualization Software helps dynamically change how a server is provisioned to enable rapid service deployment by creating pools of reconfigurable, diskless servers, and when combined with IBM's SAN Volume Controller helps clients manage heterogeneous storage by combining IBM and non-IBM storage into a single managed storage pool. IBM in conjunction with Innovative Research offers the TileFlow simulation tool to predict the cooling performance of a data center. With this thermal analysis tool and IBM PowerExecutive organizations can determine airflow patterns and temperature distribution in their data center and meter actual power usage and trend data for any single physical system or group of systems. In addition, IBM stated that it will also offer existing HP blade clients a $1,000 incentive to convert to the IBM BladeCenter.

Blades, blades, and blades: we just canít seem to get enough of them. In the past several weeks we have witnessed HPís latest blade enclosure announcement, Sunís entry into the market, and now IBMís announcement that they will happily trade out any of those systems for one of Big Blueís own. Competitive plays are always fun to watch, but this is one that frankly we have been expecting to see. While Sun has emerged as a player with its own blade systemóit has been described by some as the blade refrigerator due to its considerable sizeóthe focal point of IBMís competitive guns is clearly HP, and more specifically its latest pre-BladeSystem c-Class installed base.

As we noted previously, HP has placed its existing BladeSystem customers in a quandary given the incompatibility of the p-Class blades and chassis and that of the newer c-Class. Organizations that currently hold earlier HP blade gear and are looking to make further investments are effectively forced to choose between purchasing compatible gear that no longer represents the announced future path of the vendor, or breaking compatibility for their new solution. Since compatibility is already broken, there are fewer barriers to a competitive sell from another vendor, say IBM. Enter the Blade Migration Center. Although a $1,000 spiff is not going to radically alter the economics of a BladeCenter deployment, it may ease the competitive change-out that an organization would endure, but importantly it illustrates the greater cost that any organization faces when forced to break compatibility in any IT realm. It is this much larger cost that may cause organizations to consider whether they are content in continuing to invest blade solutions that may also face this similar compatibility break in the future that drives the basis of IBMís latest initiatives. Given the complementary technology related to power consumption and modeling (the very issues that HP has been successfully exploiting in the marketplace) combined with virtualization-related technology, it is clear that IBM wants to continue providing stiff competition in the blade market. Although the impact of a given acquisition cost for a blade solution is relatively mild, the long-term costs for organizations based upon their choices related to blade technology could be considerable. These potential costs are clearly what Big Blue is betting on to help tilt current HP customer buying proclivities towards IBM.

Data Retention and ISPs

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has ramped up his efforts to help pass a law that would force ISPs to retain the records of all of their subscribersí Internet habits. Per his intent, the customer logs would be kept for a year or two instead of the few months or less that they are regularly retained at present. Reportedly, the amount of time that ISPs retain their customerís data varies widely among the providers. The Attorney General claims that enhanced data retention will enable law enforcement to better utilize Internet resources to help crack down on those who exploit children. In addition, many state and local law enforcement agencies are supporting the measure, as is the Bush administration. The proposed legislation could take one of two forms. The first is narrow in scope and would only require ISPs to record for one or two years which IP addresses were used by which persons. The other form is much broader in scope. It would require ISPs to track email recipients, who sent instant messages to whom, and the web addresses of the pages visited by customers.

The United States federal government has already used data retained from telephone records to uncover journalistsí anonymous sources, thereby decreasing peopleís confidence that any clicktrail data would be kept for only tracking down the most heinous of child pornographers and terrorists. There is also the security angle. Data kept is data that is vulnerable to exploitation. It is conceivable that hackers could discover the clicktrail data of a group of people for, say, shady marketers or spammers or phishers. Customer profiling is just too lucrative an area to overlook. Then there is the wealth of civil lawsuits just waiting to happen. Divorces, contract breaches, and intellectual property are all areas of civil litigation that would most likely mushroom with the addition of clicktrail information just waiting to be used.

Of course, all of this information would have to be kept somewhere, which could mean a possible boom for storage companies, data filtering software companies, and others who could aid in the saving and searching of years of clicktrail information. Data storage technology continues to take its giant leaps forward, so the market is likely up to the challenge currently being debated on Capital Hill. While retaining years of clicktrail information on every person who uses the Internet is a potential goldmine for the data storage companies, still it is, in our opinion, a massive invasion of privacy. We as a country must find a balance between catching the bad guys and protecting citizenís rights. That balance has mostly been found in other media, although some would argue that balance is slipping, so we hope that in the rush to get the bad guy on the Internet, we donít turn everyone on the Internet into a bad guy.

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