March 9, 2007
Imation Corp, a major vendor in removable data storage media, has announced the DataGuard rf Tape Tracking System, a first-of-its-kind data storage tracking system allowing data center managers to reliably and efficiently track the location of data cartridges within their inventory. The system monitors and tracks the inventory location of in-transit data center tape cartridges using radio frequency identification. Imation's DataGuard rf tracking system utilizes specially designed RFID-enabled labels affixed to each tape cartridge allowing administrators to “check in” and “check out” each cartridge via entry and exit workstations. The cartridges—or case of cartridges—are then tracked via B&L Associates’ VaultLedger or Vertices software. The DataGuard rf system provides extensive list-and-audit reporting capabilities, decreasing the amount of time data center personnel spend on managing tape libraries.
At a time when sensitivities around misplaced data are at all-time highs, this solution is positioned to increase the reliability of a company’s tape tracking and inventory capabilities, with the goal of more efficiently managing overall storage processes in the face of increasing and challenging compliance requirements. There is no question that organizations are creating more and more data every day with some estimates stating that organizations routinely back up multiple terabytes of data from their disk drives to tape for offline storage. Traditionally these tapes have been primarily created for backup purposes. In today’s world, they are now being created not only for backup but also in the name of compliance. Over the past several months there have been a number of unfortunate incidents where tapes have been lost or misplaced. While this may be an inconvenience from a backup perspective, as the U.S. Federal Court Rules of Civil Procedure expand electronic discovery, the inability to locate a tape or tapes can turn into costly court sanctions or worse.
Sageza believes astute organizations must address the need to effectively manage and locate offline tapes and cartridges. It would appear that the Imation system can help organizations accomplish that goal. We anticipate that future enhancements to offline storage will include encryption and more flexibility to convert from older formats into new ones with a minimum of effort and without the use of specialized equipment.
Red Hat, the Linux and Open Source distributor, and Exadel, a provider of rich application components for next-generation enterprise solutions, have announced a strategic partnership that will add Eclipse-based developer tools for building service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web 2.0 applications to Red Hat's integrated platform, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux and JBoss Enterprise Middleware. The companies noted that this represents the first time a mature set of Eclipse-based developer tools will be available in open source. Exadel plans to open source all of its products, including Exadel Studio Pro and RichFaces, as well as consolidate its Ajax4jsf project under JBoss.org, the community behind open source projects that comprise the JBoss Enterprise Middleware. Red Hat will work jointly with Exadel to drive development of the projects and their integration with JBoss platform technologies such as JBoss Seam. Exadel Studio Pro provides an advanced Web development environment that supports multiple developer frameworks within a single environment while RichFaces and Ajax4jsf offer powerful yet simple models for building rich Internet and Web 2.0 applications. RichFaces and Ajax4jsf are available immediately as JBoss RichFaces and JBoss Ajax4jsf, under the LGPL license. Red Hat is currently working to open source Exadel Studio Pro as Red Hat Developer Studio under a GPL-based license. Availability for Red Hat Developer Studio is planned for H1 2007.
Developers are like any other craftsmen or artists, in that the quality of their works is directly affected by the quality of the tools at their disposal. While core open source technologies have been around for some time, this has been less the case for developer tools, especially the class of development tools that modern-day developers have come to expect as a matter of course. The combination of Exadel's developer tools with JBoss Enterprise Middleware offers a much richer development and deployment platform for developers seeking to assemble SOA components and Web 2.0 applications while reducing the amount of raw coding required. We believe Red Hat has made a good move here by investing the needed resources to help bring mature tools to the open source community. Obviously, an increased availability of tools should help increase interest in the Red Hat platform, which in turn imbues incremental revenue to Red Hat’s corporate coffers. Given the increased focus on SOA and even Web 2.0 in many organizations, delivering a richer development framework on popular open source middleware just makes sense. Call it self serving, or strategic thinking, it does not matter; we believe it is represents shrewd thinking.
Overall, we are pleased to see Red Hat continue to focus on broadening its market position as well the breadth and depth of its technology offerings. By putting some additional muscle into the SOA and Web 2.0 development tools space, Red Hat may help drive some of the value these initiatives afford into organizations that otherwise experience slower or non-existent uptake. A one-trick pony is by definition inflexible and today’s IT marketplace demands ever increasing levels of flexibility from all participants. We are glad to see Red Hat continue to broaden its strategy in a fashion that makes sense for its core offerings, but opens the door for more of the core as well as for new opportunities as they arise.
Oracle has announced the expansion of its governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) applications with the introduction of a new applications suite that manages compliance initiatives in heterogeneous environments; provides increased security through automated, pre-defined ERP controls; and intends to provide greater visibility through expanded GRC intelligence. The Oracle GRC application suite combines the strength of the heterogeneous compliance and content management capabilities Oracle acquired from the Stellent acquisition with the depth of Oracle application controls. Oracle now delivers a comprehensive offering to manage strategic, financial, technology, and operational risk across the enterprise regardless of compliance mandate. For example, the suite includes support for international financial regulations including OMB A-123 in the U.S., Multilateral Instrument 52-109 in Canada, JSOX in Japan, KSOX in Korea, or the Turnbull Report in the UK. With the solutions attained through the acquisition of Stellent, the Oracle GRC applications suite allows organizations to collaboratively define and approve policies, procedures, and controls throughout the enterprise and map organizational business processes and structures to the policy and control environment. Customers can manage their risks and controls holistically, breaking down compliance management silos. Best-practice frameworks such as COSO and CoBiT are integrated so that customers can rationalize controls against processes, regulations, objectives, and risks within an organizational framework. New capabilities include Oracle Application Access Controls, a library of segregation of duties (SOD) controls with 200+ rules for the Oracle E-Business Suite to detect and prevent access control violations, and Oracle Application Configuration Controls, which monitor 500+ internal controls for the Oracle E-Business Suite to provide continuous monitoring for changes in application configuration controls, and includes the ability to set up auditing parameters to enforce organizational tolerances across multiple instances.
Oracle’s applications are often found at the heart of very large organizations. Sageza believes that their acquisition activity has reinforced this dominant position on the technology side and by expanding into key areas such as Human Resources with the PeopleSoft acquisition. GRC is as much a result of policies and procedures as it is technology. Many of the regulations cited in Oracle’s announcement such as JSOX have not been fully developed while others such as the U.S. SOX are often silent on technology guidance. Consequently large organizations are cautioned that there is no simple, single magic solution to GRC.
Sageza applauds Oracle’s efforts in developing GRC applications that are complementary to its core products. As a general rule, we believe that built-in solutions tend to work better than add-ons. However, that is not to say that the built-in is automatically the best, nor is it the optimal solution for every organization. Prospective buyers of GRC software, whether Oracle’s or anyone else’s, are advised to assess their GRC needs first in the context of the corporate governance posture and then determine how IT “solutions” will facilitate the implementation of corporate policies thereby acting as a catalyst for governance. Sageza believes very strongly that compliance is the result of good governance and organizations cannot chase compliance regulations sequentially and hope to succeed. To this end, Oracle’s GRC suite may be a step in the right direction for many users.
Fujitsu Siemens Computers recently announced a high-availability solution, x10sure, targeted at SMBs with five to fifty Windows-based servers who are seeking a lower-cost high-availability alternative to what is commonly available through virtualization or clustering. x10sure delivers enhanced monitoring and protection for standard Microsoft Windows Server 2003-based server and disk-storage systems through agentless server monitoring and automatic troubleshooting including automated server shutdown and reboot, and simple and automated data protection. Available exclusively through FSC’s VAR network, x10sure employs standard 32-bit and 64-bit PRIMERGY servers running the standard edition of Microsoft Windows Server 2003. A typical configuration consists of PRIMERGY BX600 blade or rack servers: several production servers, a spare/failover server, and one system running the x10sure control software. One spare server is required for an array of productive servers, and in the event of a failure, production systems are back online again within minutes. All are interconnected through a SAN switch using high-speed fibre channel links to a single FibreCAT SX80 fibre channel storage subsystem. The disk-based storage is consolidated by FibreCAT, with x10sure’s server access to disk managed via logical unit number mapping. The most basic configuration consists of a five-server license and is priced at €9,250. x10sure is available immediately in Germany, Belgium, and Finland with wider availability to be announced in April 2007.
Ask any IT director if his or her organization wants high availability for its servers and storage, and the answer is inevitably affirmative. For many organizations, HA is a design requirement for their production environments, and its added cost in IT deployment and operations is simply a burden that must be born. However, for the small organization, the cost of clustering or advanced virtualization and failover scheme may be beyond reach or the level of HA being provided exceeds what would qualify as “good enough” for the need. It is in these and other similar environments where FSC’s x10sure has an opportunity to deliver a cost-effective alternative.
For applications that are secondary, or developmental in nature, an unattended automatic recovery mechanism may provide an acceptable level of recovery from service interruption without incurring the gold-plated cost of other approaches. This is especially true where the current level of service provides only that someone will manually restart the machine the next time they are in the office. While it is easy to dismiss such an approach as not truly HA, for smaller organizations it may represent an improvement over the status quo, and its modest incremental cost over non-HA approaches is a barrier than can likely be overcome. Further, the centralized approach to storage offers smaller organizations an opportunity to enhance their operational approach to storage, which at present is probably not very strategic and carries the attendant risk that much of the corporate data may reside in storage silos, not being centrally catalogued and backed up.
To be clear, this is not a platinum-grade HA solution, and to be very fair, it is not priced or positioned as one. Nevertheless, for those with no HA scheme, it may prove to be a cost-effective improvement over what they have. For the smaller organization, x10sure could be a logical solution to help move the organization along the HA and centralized storage continuum, but without the historic barrier of high cost and a more complex operational topology.