September 3, 2014

My Publications

I'm pleased to have been allowed to write and speak on storage topics for a decade

You can read the following articles and whitepapers I have written online:

Storage Community (Sponsored by IBM)

SearchConsumerization

Network Computing columns

  • Always-On With Amazon S3 (September 28, 2011) - Amazon S3 continues its steady growth, attracting storage users from the startup to the enterprise. But many are concerned about putting all their eggs in the S3 basket, and other companies are rising to the challenge. Recently, Nasuni and Gemini briefed me on products that might ease the concerns of Amazon S3 users.
  • The Many Faces Of 802.11n (July 5, 2011) - Wireless local networking has been a massive hit with consumers and businesses, but the promise of 802.11n, the latest version of the Wi-Fi standard, is clouded with confusion.
  • Performance Vs. Capacity: A Fork In The Road (Jun 20, 2011) - During my recent panel session with Howard Marks and Vanessa Alvarez at Interop, a question came up regarding the “big data” concept: How is it that storage capacity is so important to so many companies when performance has never been so critical? How can these two diverging requirements coexist in the same market, solutions, and devices?
  • Distributed Core And East-West Routing–The Network Is Changing (April 28, 2011) Applications and data center infrastructures are changing, and this puts a strain on conventional IT architecture. A number of recent announcements have really put this in perspective, with key network infrastructure components devolving from a centralized “hub and spoke” model to one that might even deserve to be called “cloud.” Two key harbingers of this change are the shift from “North-South” to “all direction” network traffic and the decentralization of network device intelligence.
  • Narrowcom To Unveil Wi-FiBASE-T (April 1, 2011) The wireless LAN (WLAN) market is unusual in enterprise IT: It deals primarily with end-users, features an unreliable physical medium, and getting a wireless design right requires experience beyond what most systems administrators posses. But all that is about to change, as leading WLAN chipmaker Narrowcom unveils Wi-FiBASE-T, a wired variant of the familiar protocol. By leveraging commodity Ethernet hardware, Wi-FiBASE-T reduces cost and improves reliability and performance. The initial wave of products should be released around the first of April.
  • How Will Thunderbolt Affect Enterprise Storage? (Mar 8, 2011) Last week, Intel and Apple dropped a bombshell on the consumer computer peripheral market. The new Thunderbolt port, a 10G bps interconnect found on Apple’s latest MacBook Pro laptop computers, combines DisplayPort video and PCI Express and is opening a new world of expansion options. But how will this technology, formerly known as Light Peak, impact enterprise storage?
  • Storage Capacity Still Drives Accessibility (Feb 25, 2011) Over its 20 year history, innovation in the field of enterprise storage has seemed to focus on two often conflicting goals: ever expanding capacity and the need to access all of that storage. Nearly every development seems to come down to one of these two areas. In this time of cloud storage and big data, it is illuminating to consider the challenges in light of capacity and accessibility.
  • Where Is Intel’s FCoE Solution? (Feb 8, 2011) FCoE may not be the slam-dunk portrayed by some analysts and vendors, but I’m confident an “everything over Ethernet” approach is the right one for the next generation of enterprise data centers. It’s hard to argue with commodity pricing, solid 10Gbit performance, backward-compatible connectivity and network-enabled flexibility. Fibre Channel will eventually succumb to the Ethernet monster, and the data center will be better for it.
  • Unified Storage: What Is It Good For? (Feb 3, 2011) There was a time when single-tasking data center equipment was all the rage. CPU cycles and RAM were at a premium, so it made sense to design equipment that did one thing and did it well. Intel has exploded this old assumption thanks to the continual proliferation of transistors according to Moore’s Law: Today’s processors, network adapters and buses have CPU cycles to spare, and most data center equipment is turning to software for differentiation.
  • Is NFS A Viable Protocol For Converged Networking? (Jan 20, 2011) Last week’s piece on Ethernet’s “Goldilocks” problem generated some thought provoking responses, but one really caught my attention: if we are to suggest that iSCSI is a viable alternative storage protocol for converged networking, where does that leave NFS? After all, storage vendors are increasingly pushing NFS as an alternative to iSCSI for the storage of virtual machine environments. If it’s good enough for VMware ESX, doesn’t it deserve a place at the adult table when discussing converged networking?
  • Ethernet Has A Goldilocks Problem (Jan 10, 2011) Although everyone seems sure that the future will converge on Ethernet, it is not clear how we will get there. Gigabit Ethernet is too slow for converged I/O, and 10Gbit hardware and cabling remains prohibitively expensive. Proponents of “everything over Ethernet” are stymied when they try to make a cost-based use case.

Feature articles

  • InformationWeek Storage for Virtual Environments(October 2011) The prospect of live virtual machines scooting among physical hardware–even across various data center locations–is unsettling to storage pros, who typically design around static resources. But we need to get over our fixation on fixed assets–server virtualization is, without a doubt, the most impactful infrastructure trend for today’s enterprise data center architects. The fact that server virtualization also poses challenges to longstanding architectural assumptions means our assumptions need to change.
  • Storage Magazine New trends in storage (August 2011) It may seem as if storage technologies are a little stodgy and out of date, but there’s plenty of technical development going on at both big storage vendors and smaller upstarts.
  • Storage Magazine Thin provisioning in depth (April 2011) Thin provisioning can help you use your disk capacity much more efficiently, but you need to get under the hood to understand how the technology might work in your environment.
  • Silicon Angle From Scale-Out to Big Data to the Cloud (January 13 2011)  Enterprise storage is hot right now, and file-based storage is even hotter. EMC just spent $2.25 billion to acquire Isilon Systems, and perennial NAS contender NetApp is on tear. Clearly, “big data“, as it’s called, is on the rise. But how big can data get with conventional systems?
  • InformationWeek Small Businesses, Big Advances In Backup And Recovery (August 2010) Small businesses have an almost alarming array of business continuity and disaster recovery options, from on-site tape to sometimes pricey disk-based appliances to managed services to fully in-the-cloud offerings.
  • BitPipe iSCSI Over 10 Gb Ethernet: Performance and More (July 2010) The performance of 10 Gigabit Ethernet might appear impressive now, but this is only half the story. Just as important are the new network architectures, simplified connectivity, enhanced quality of service and improved manageability of a 10 gigabit solution. This mediacast discusses the impact 10 GbE can have, simplifying connectivity for physical, blade, virtual servers and network storage. Also discussed are new data center concepts introduced by this technology.
  • Storage Magazine 10 Key Considerations for Email Archiving (June 2008) Email archiving products vary in their features and technical structures.  Here’s how to select an archiving tool that’s a good fit for your company’s needs.
  • Storage Magazine Big Files Create Big Backup Issues (May 2008) Big files and millions of files clogging storage systems can create big backup headaches.  While there’s no quick fix to the problem of big backups, there are many effective approaches, including adjustments to your backup process and newer technologies from backup vendors.
  • Enterprise Systems Journal Ten Tips for Smarter E-mail Archiving (Dec 2007) We offer prudent best practices that minimize risk and are broadly acknowledged with widespread use because they work.
  • Storage Magazine Can iSCSI crack the enterprise? (Jul 2007) iSCSI storage systems are showing up in medium-sized businesses, but storage managers at large enterprise shops have been reluctant to embrace them. This is largely because Fibre Channel (FC) is so firmly entrenched in bigger companies. But iSCSI offers some unique benefits that may appeal to shops with FC-only environments.
  • Storage Magazine Secure iSCSI storage (May 2007) One of the raps against iSCSI storage is that it’s not as secure as Fibre Channel SANs. But iSCSI can be as secure as you want it to be. It was built from the ground up with strong authentication and encryption capabilities that work … as long as they’re used.
  • Storage Magazine Untangling the encryption chain (October 2006)
  • Storage Magazine Backup SLAs: The art of diplomacy (Sep 2006) Negotiating backup service-level agreements (SLAs) can be one of the toughest elements of transitioning IT from a mere technology competence center to a real part of the business. Detailing what a backup service will provide, and figuring out how to measure and report on these promises, will greatly improve enterprise storage operations.
  • WinStorage magazine Windows Storage Myths (February 2006) A compilation and expansion of my previous columns about Windows storage.
  • Storage Magazine Securing IP SANs (Mar 2005) IP SANs use commodity hardware and industry-standard protocols to provide a cost-conscious, easy-to-manage alternative to Fibre Channel arrays. But with IP comes the issue of security. We detail five ways to make an IP SAN more secure.
  • Storage Magazine NAS on a grand scale (Jun 2004) Do you want to rid yourself of a backup window or two? Continuous backup–also know as continuous data protection–is changing the rules by backing up in real time, or close to it.
  • Storage Magazine The best way to scale SANs (Aug 2003) SAN configurations greatly influence their scalability. There’s no perfect model, but here are the trade-offs involved with each major option.
  • InfoStor iSCSI gives end users what they want (Feb 2003) iSCSI will succeed because it is useful, inexpensive, and based on familiar technology (TCP/IP), but it does not spell doom for network-attached storage (NAS) and Fibre Channel.
  • InfoStor Optimize Backup Assets to Reduce Cost, Complexity (May 2002) Storage administrators can optimize backup assets such as tape libraries, servers, and media to deliver substantial savings in both cost and manageability.

Web articles

  • Interest in data reduction methods needs to keep pace with data growth (Septemper 2011) What you will learn in this tip: Data continues to grow at a fast pace in today’s storage environments, but many shops still haven’t utilized widely available data reduction methods, such as thin provisioning, data deduplication and compression. This tip outlines what these technologies can offer users, and what steps you can take to get started with data reduction.
  • 10 quick and easy ways to boost storage performance (July 2011) Don’t let capacity concerns or virtualized servers bog down the performance of your storage systems. Here are 10 ways to pump up the performance of your storage arrays and networks.
  • SAN booting alternatives for data storage managers (May 2011) What you will learn in this tip: Storage-area network (SAN) booting and server virtualization are fueling the trend toward diskless servers. Learn about the move from internal to external storage and other booting alternatives available for your organization.
  • FCoE SAN Multi-Hop Technology Primer (10 May 2011) What you will learn in this tip: Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) storage-area network (SAN) technology is becoming more popular in data storage environments, but there are performance issues, primarily the lack of multi-hop switching support, that need to be addressed that could potentially stunt the growth of the technology. Find out what vendors and users are doing to improve FCoE SAN performance.
  • Is PCIe SSD right for you? Deploying PCI Express SSD devices (3 January 2011) What you’ll learn in this tip: With a PCI Express (PCIe) solid-state drive (SSD), the storage network can be eliminated entirely in certain situations. Learn about the considerations and challenges of PCIe SSD and if it’s right for your environment.
  • Cloud storage gateway eases transition to cloud storage services (30 November 2010) What you’ll learn in this tip: Cloud storage gateways help ease the transition to cloud storage services and products. Gateways can make cloud storage appear to be a NAS filer, a block storage array, a backup target or even an extension of the application itself. Learn about some of the value-added features vendors are providing in their cloud gateway products.
  • Understanding Storage Performance Metrics (6 October 2010) What you will learn in this tip: Learn how to accurately measure storage performance metrics in your storage system, and discover why your results may differ from vendor benchmark numbers.
  • Erasure codes: The foundation of RAID 6 arrays (31 August 2010) RAID 6 is rapidly becoming a standard component of modern storage systems, with nearly every midrange or larger array adding this capability. We tell you why the erasure codes in RAID 6 arrays allow today’s high-capacity disk drives to be used without fear of data loss due to unrecoverable read errors (UREs).
  • Turning the Page on RAID (24 Jul 2008) It has been the core technology behind the storage industry since day one, but the sun is setting on traditional RAID technology. After two decades of refinement and fragmentation, we are abandoning the core concepts of disk-centric data protection as storage and servers go virtual. Next-generation storage products will feature refined and integrated capabilities based on pools of storage rather than combinations of disk drives, and we will all benefit from improved reliability and performance.
  • We Need a Storage Revolution (2 Jul 2008) Most storage protocols continue to mimic direct attached storage, and most of our so-called networks act as point to point channels. An ultra-modern virtualized storage infrastructure with all the latest bells and whistles still holds the concepts of block and file at its core. Whenever the storage industry has tried to bring about real storage management they have been stymied by a lack of context for data. No amount of virtualization, and no new protocol, will fix this. Put simply, we need a storage revolution
  • Flash Forward or Flash Back? (11 Jun 2008) The tech industry has been buzzing about solid state drives (SSDs) again lately, but many questions remain.  Even after many major vendors (Apple, EMC, and Dell to name a few) have introduced NAND flash-based disk into their core products, it is unclear whether non-disk storage will fly or flop.  I’m betting it will find a nice niche, but that traditional spinning disks are here for a good long time.
  • The Future of Home Storage (20 May 2008) Along with my professional focus on enterprise storage systems, I’m enamored of home networking, and recently passed the two terabyte mark at home! Along with David Mould’s post on the 19th, this got me thinking about where home storage is heading.
  • Why FCoE is Relevant and Where It Will Be Used (24 April 2008) – The Future of Storage
  • A Consultant’s View Of The SAN Market (14 April 2008) – Ars Technica and The Future of Storage
  • Take care of data restoration clients (14 Nov 2005) How to deal with a large number of restore requests — from long term to short term and those coming from the middle.
  • Grid computing quietly takes over the storage world (13 Jul 2005) While you may not have noticed, grid computing is already making an appearance in the storage market, and will have a much bigger impact over time than most may realize.
  • Cheap storage tactics (10 Jun 2005) I’m the sort that likes to make do. Some would call me a cheapskate, but I prefer to think of myself as one who makes the most out of what is given. So, let’s kick off the storage strategy section of storage stars with some advice on saving money.
  • Calculating space for parity in RAID-5 : What are the calculations for RAID-5 in regards to the amount of space parity will consume? For instance, if I have a RAID-5 with 10 146 GB drives, what is the percent factor of sp… .
  • Calculating available disk space in a RAID-5 set : I’m trying to find out how to calculate how much disk space will be available from five 36 GB disks using RAID-5. Can you help me out? Five 36 GB drives in a RAID-5 configuration …
  • Calculating available disk space in a RAID-5 set: I’m trying to find out how to calculate how much disk space will be available from five 36 GB disks using RAID-5. Can you help me out? Five 36 GB drives in a RAID-5 configuration …
  • Five ways to secure iSCSI : This article first appeared in “Storage” magazine in their March issue. For more articles of this type, please visit www.storagemagazine.com. What you will learn from this tip…