July 27, 2007
IBM has previewed a major new release of i5/OS that is expected to ship in 2008. i5/OS Version 6 will feature encryption of data held on disk and tape, new virtualization support that allows one i5/OS partition to host storage for another, and utilities for simpler deployment and better integration with Web services as well as an integrated Web application server to simplify the deployment of Java applications. i5/OS V6R1 will also leverage IBM Systems Director to extend the management capabilities of System i to better support mixed operating systems environments including UNIX and Windows as well as provide enhanced integration and performance with IBM System Storage. The company also announced the availability of the MySQL open source database for i5/OS, and that SugarCRM will make its open source CRM software available for i5/OS in July.
In addition, IBM has unveiled the new System i 570 featuring POWER6 that targets medium and large enterprise customers seeking new levels of operational efficiency, enhanced application performance, and modular options that support up to 16-way configurations. The i570 can be configured to execute multiple transactional, collaborative, and Web applications simultaneously with support for up to 160 virtual server partitions. The new system features Capacity on Demand to enable the system to easily scale with business needs. IBM also introduced a new i5/OS Edition pricing structure to better align its software, middleware, and features with the needs of customers. In addition, IBM Global Technology services offers a suite of services covering a range of implementation and migration-related services, from simply loading i5/OS to the creation of highly customized server environments. The System i570 with POWER6 processors will be available with i5/OS V5R4 in September starting at $165,000. i5/OS V6R1 is expected to be available in 2008.
The past few days have been busy ones for the System i. Following on the heels of last week’s organizational announcements, these latest announcements are no doubt meant to illustrate the resolve and continued support announced for the System i as part of the reorganization. A roadmap for i5/OS should help assuage any concerns there may have been that the OS was going to be relegated to secondary status with respect to the POWER6 platform and the new features should be well received by those who understand the value of integrated solutions. Of particular note, we are intrigued with the upcoming ability of partitions to manage storage for another. In cases where customers simply want to add additional virtual servers to support a workload, being able to use the existing storage scenario simplifies the task while reducing incremental management needed to support the server. Further, delivering an integrated app server and working to improve Web services integration should be welcomed by organizations that wish to consolidate their IT infrastructure and leverage the System i’s management prowess but at the same time wish to deploy the latest software architectures such as Web services.
POWER6 was designed with virtualization and consolidation as a driving consideration. The hardware-based hypervisor affords efficiencies and separation of operating system components that are not possible in the more common software-based virtualization schemes. When one considers the processing agility of the POWER6, many workloads could be consolidated whether they are Web-oriented infrastructures based upon Linux and open source, i5/OS, or AIX. The potential operational and management efficiency to be gained is non-trivial, especially for mid-sized and larger organizations. Further, the energy efficiency of the new chip and server are reflective of the integrated, holistic system design that has defined the System i. The inherent ability of POWER6 to throttle back power consumption in certain scenarios and shut it down completely is just another example of the flexibility of the platform and its potential to be deployed in right-sized configurations that are in close alignment with the scale and needs of customers.
Overall, these announcements are a good indicator that IBM intends to continue investment in the venerable System i. While the next generation of the operating system is still a few months off, the agility of POWER6 is here today. This should be of particular interest for the mid-sized and large organizations that have taken a liking to the System i, and have become an example of a new user constituency that seeks to press the platform to the limit while benefiting from its unique integrated design framework. At the same time, the continued investment in i5/OS and the hardware is good news for all user constituencies.
Hifn, a security vendor since 1996, has announced its acquisition of the business of Siafu Software, a provider of secure storage solutions, in response to OEM customer and end-user demands, and to acquire a sophisticated channel program and broader array of products to better serve its OEM customers. Siafu Software delivers secure storage networking solutions aimed at the small and medium-sized enterprise market (SMEs).
In the face of an enormous increase in data that needs to be managed, OEMs and their customers are actively looking for specific functionality that solves the overarching enterprise needs for data integrity, data security, and effective storage management. While historically these solutions have been available only to large enterprises, there is growing and significant demand among SMEs for this technology, as the storage needs for this market segment have changed in the face of new regulations effecting all entities regardless of their size, and giving them significantly more data to manage. Siafu Software provides software architecture and associated hardware for secure storage networking to the SME market. Siafu's software powers the company's product line, which includes Siafu Swarm and Siafu Sypher appliances. Hifn plans to take full advantage of the experience of the Siafu software team, as well as continuing to support its existing channel organization and customer base. This acquisition extends Hifn's strategy of vertically integrating its data protection solutions to fill the gap in the convergence of storage, security, and networking infrastructure.
Hifn has been around since the late 1990s, and has established itself in three core technologies: content inspection, data compression, and encryption. The addition of secure storage networking rounds out capabilities needed by most organizations. Unfortunately some technologies such as data compression and encryption have been perceived as less than glamorous, and furthermore the technological expertise needed to harness these capabilities as the basis for an efficient, yet secure IT infrastructure has been somewhat elusive. They have been found mostly in large enterprises willing to dedicate the resources necessary to design, develop, and implement complex architectures.
We believe that the core technologies embodied in this announcement—data compression, encryption, and secure storage—will evolve to become the center of gravity for IT infrastructures of the future. We also believe that in some cases a bottom-up development approach may yield more fruit than a top-down one. By this we mean products such as those from Hifn that are aimed at the SME market may also find themselves adopted by the remote or branch offices (ROBO) of larger organizations as small building blocks, easy to configure and support. We are also very positive on the notion of acquiring an organization for its distribution channel as well as its products but are mindful of the fact that there are cultural changes which must be made to adapt to working with the new marketing partners. Overall we believe that Hifn has shown itself to be in a positive upward trend through this acquisition.
VMware has announced the availability of VMmark, a benchmarking system designed to provide customers and partners with a reliable measurement of application performance in virtualized environments. The benchmark is the result of two years of engineering design, partner collaboration, and review of customer survey data in order to create a measurement that accurately represents customer environments. According to the company, VMmark is the first benchmarking system that measures the scalability of heterogeneous virtualized workloads with a consistent methodology so that results can be compared across different virtualization platforms. Server vendors who conduct benchmark testing under the guidelines using VMmark can publish a VMmark score that provides scaling information about the workloads each product can support and the overall performance level of virtual machines running on a server. AMD, Dell, HP, and Novell (SUSE) stated their support of VMmark in the announcement. VMware VMmark can be downloaded free of charge from the VMware web site.
Benchmarks provide helpful guidelines for IT professionals and the industry by which to measure the relative standing of specific solutions and their implementation. While server benchmarks have existed in several flavors for quite some time, these measurements have typically been focused on a specific workload on a specific physical server. These measurements remain quite valid and important; however, they do not reflect the performance achieved in the virtual environments that are increasingly finding their way into corporate data centers. This is where VMmark differs from past benchmarks and offers IT professionals a new guidepost by which to assess their existing and planned virtual server environments.
Although VMmark is a vendor-delivered benchmark, we should be careful not to raise too much suspicion about the potential for VMware controlling the benchmark to its advantage, as the company is a member of the SPEC subcommittee developing a standard benchmark for measuring virtualization performance. The current subcommittee participants include AMD, Dell, Fujitsu Siemens, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, and SWsoft as well as VMware, so we see the release of VMmark as the case of bringing the capability to the marketplace more rapidly, not an attempt to preempt an industry-supported benchmark. While the final SPEC measurement is being created, the IT professionals and the marketplace can learn how to use VMmark and thus codify the practice of making these measurements as part of the planning and operations process that organizations use to make hardware selections, and compare the performance and scalability of different virtualization platforms.
Overall, we see VMmark as another example of VMware’s past stated desire to promote open standards related to virtualization across the IT marketplace. To our way of thinking, it is a good first step in energizing the end-user discussion around virtualization performance educating the market about what will become an increasingly important performance measurement for the datacenter.
Code Green Networks, a leading developer of data loss prevention solutions for protecting customer data and intellectual property, has announced a major new upgrade to its Content Inspection Appliance. The new, integrated email encryption and Webmail protection capabilities in the CI Appliance now offer companies the means to protect and secure their private data in a cost-effective manner with a single appliance. The new version adds enhanced Webmail protection and onboard email encryption to help businesses automate compliance with new Federal guidelines for data privacy and legal discovery regulations. The CI Appliance also now includes complete monitoring and enforcement capabilities for all popular Webmail services including Google Gmail, MSN Hotmail, AOL Mail, Windows Live Mail and Yahoo! Mail. Custom parsers in this new release enable Webmail communications to be monitored for sensitive content, recorded for auditing and discovery purposes, and blocked using an ICAP proxy server such as Blue Coat. Onboard email encryption using the Voltage Security Network is now included on the appliance, enabling companies to set policies to automatically encrypt authorized data transmissions. When the CI Appliance detects an authorized email containing personal data or other content, it encrypts the message to ensure its security, and a log entry is automatically generated providing an audit trail record for compliance purposes. The new release of the appliance also adds direct connectors for protecting data stored in Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server databases and WebDAV content repositories such as Microsoft’s SharePoint.
The Code Green Networks CI Appliance inspects content flows and enforces policies in all of the most widely used TCP protocols including SMTP, FTP, HTTP, IM and Webmail. The appliance-based solution resides at a company’s Internet gateway to monitor content flows on the corporate network and automatically enforce protection policies to log, alert, retain, block, encrypt, or re-route transmissions. The CI Appliance protects both structured and unstructured data in over 400 different file formats including Microsoft Office documents, CSV files, CAD drawings, image files, rich media, and industry-specific application formats.
The appliance form factor has gained significant popularity over the past several years. Large enterprises have found that it is easier to support and manage a piece of hardware remotely than it is to deal with myriad software versions and harried remote administrators. Recent compromises of personally identifiable information by commercial and government organizations have heightened awareness of the need to protect sensitive data. Many organizations have been frustrated by the sieve that is email and know better than to rely on each end user to apply encryption. Transparent processes that implement corporate governance policies via impartial technology are practical and workable.
The data loss prevention (DLP)/content filtering market is getting crowded and CodeGreen, like its competition, must constantly strive for differentiation. Email encryption will evolve as a standard operating procedure for many organizations by 2009 because they cannot afford to have PII or valuable intellectual property compromised. Logical combinations of functions and products such as this release by CodeGreen are sensitive to market needs and likely to achieve positive results.