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January 13, 2003—In this issue:
- The Many Implications of the IBM-Hitachi Deal
2. NEWS AND VIEWS
- StorageNetworks' Workforce Halved
- IP Storage Standard Hits Bumps
- Windows Scripting Solutions for the Systems Administrator
- New! News, Tips, and More to Keep Your Network Humming
- Offline and Image Backups Vs. Online Backups
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Sell NAS to the Medical Industry
- Monitor and Manage Enterprise Storage
- Submit Top Product Ideas
6. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Elliot King, [email protected])
It was good-bye and good riddance for IBM's hard disk drive (HDD) manufacturing business last week as Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST), the company formed when Hitachi agreed to purchase IBM's HDD operation last spring, officially opened for business. Before the purchase, IBM's HDD division had lost nearly $500 million in 2001, and although the final numbers for 2002 aren't yet in, they're not going to be good. In the third quarter, IBM reported a loss of $142 million in the HDD division.
Most of the speculation about the impact of IBM's withdrawal from the HDD market has focused on the effect the deal will have on the corporate computing space. The purchase reflects ongoing consolidation in the HDD market, which currently leaves only a couple possible combinations of large companies. With IBM now concentrating on Storage Resource Management (SRM) solutions, some industry observers believe that the move toward standards-based storage such as the Common Information Model (CIM) will accelerate.
But Hitachi threw a significant challenge at the industry at the launch of HGST: The company announced its new Microdrive product, with a 1" form factor and a 4GB storage capacity. The new device builds on IBM technology first unveiled in 1999 but has four times the storage capacity of IBM's current Microdrive.
The Hitachi Microdrive, which will be available in the fall of 2003, has overcome many engineering and technical hurdles. The read/write head is half the size of its predecessor, decreasing the height at which the head flies over the disk platter by 40 percent. The number of tracks per inch has increased dramatically, and the drive has an areal density of 60 billion bits of data per square inch. The areal density was made possible by a media technology that Hitachi calls Pixie Dust. The media consists of three-atom-thick layers separated by the element ruthenium (similar to platinum). Technically known as antiferromagnetically coupled media, the ruthenium magnetic layers provide ultrahigh recording densities while maintaining data integrity.
The Microdrive announcement has several significant, long-term implications. First, high-density, small-form-factor HDDs are emerging as the enabling technology for a lot of cool new mobile and handheld devices. Apple Computer's iPod MP3 player is built around Toshiba's 1.8" disk drive featuring 10GB to 20GB of storage. Microsoft's Xbox video game player has a hard disk, and Sony plans to add a hard disk to its game player. Home media servers such as TiVo and ReplayTV might also take advantage of small-form-factor disks. Another area in which the new technology will have an impact is in the car stereo market. Consumers want to be able to store 18 to 20 hours of music on a disk, a desire that isn't lost on car stereo manufacturers. And the next generation of PDAs, digital cameras, and cell phones are going to be able to store a lot more data than they currently do.
An increase in the amount of data that personal devices store will significantly affect storage administrators within the enterprise. Their challenge will remain convincing personal device users who store a lot of data on their PDAs to back up their information safely in central repositories. Data synchronization could become a nightmare. Knowing what data is stored where, when, and by whom will become an increasingly complex task. Storage administrators will need to carefully define their storage policies and devise strategies to ensure that users adhere to the policies.
As 1" and 1.8" hard disks make their way into consumer electronics and other personal devices, vendors will realize the manufacturing efficiencies that mass production makes possible. As a result, costs will continue to drop. In the near future, small hard disks will be virtually everywhere data is found.
As with the rest of the IT infrastructure, storage technology tends to alternate between phases in which the industry market leaders drive toward centralization and phases in which decentralization becomes of primary importance. The IBM-Hitachi deal has generated comment that mostly centers on the implications for centralized storage. But the acquisition will also advance how data is stored on devices just beyond the network. Managing that data will prove challenging in the years to come.
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2. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Keith Furman, [email protected])
StorageNetworks, a Massachusetts-based storage management software and service provider, isn't faring too well in today's economy. The company announced plans to reduce its workforce by 50 percent and announced the departure of its president and CEO, Peter Bell, a cofounder of the company. The staff reduction will bring total staff to approximately 110 employees. The layoffs come in addition to the cutting of 80 jobs last October. Paul Flanagan, StorageNetworks' chief operating officer (COO) and former chief financial officer (CFO), will assume the role of president and CEO.
In recent years, StorageNetworks changed its focus from selling storage as a service to becoming an infrastructure vendor for mainstream service providers; more recently, the company has evolved into a storage resource management software developer. The company hopes the announced round of staff reductions will help it survive the industry's current sales slump. The company's stock, which traded for as high as $138 in July 2000, closed at around a dollar last week.
Electronic Data Systems (EDS) is one of StorageNetworks' largest customers. EDS has affirmed its commitment to continue its relationship with StorageNetworks and denied commenting about rumors that it would buy StorageNetworks to integrate into EDS's technology department.
The process of finalizing the iSCSI storage standard ran into a few obstacles last week. The ratification was voted down by The Internet Engineering Steering Group's IP Storage Working Group because of minor concerns about the iSCSI standard that are simple to fix, according to a report in "eWeek."
The major concern of The Internet Engineering Steering Group's IP Storage Working Group was problem that "Bootstrapping Clients Using the iSCSI Protocol," a document that details the iSCSI standard, identified. The group rejected the document by a vote of nine to two. AT&T security expert Steve Bellovin, a member of the group, abstained from voting. The document details security in iSCSI's boot-up procedures, which include DHCP authentication, SLPv2, and IP Security (IPSec). The group working on the standard believes that most IP storage systems will be connected to Windows servers, and the group raises the concern that Windows' Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) is inherently insecure. According to an anonymous note from one voter, PXE security is rarely enabled in practice, which can allow a rogue PXE server to reformat a network's storage systems' drives.
The document's rejection is not expected to affect the overall iSCSI standard approval. The group hopes to resolve concerns about the document by the end of the month. The iSCSI standard is expected to become an official proposed standard this week.
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What advantages do offline backups and image backups have over online backups? Click on the following link to find out:
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, [email protected])
Procom Technology announced a new program to address the storage needs of the medical industry. Procom is assembling a dedicated distribution channel to sell its NetFORCE Network Attached Storage (NAS) filers to medical industry resellers and OEMs. The NetFORCE NAS filers provide multiterabyte scalability for applications that serve MRI and CAT scans. For pricing, contact Procom Technology at 800-800-8600 or [email protected].
Astrum Software released Astrum 1.5, software that monitors and manages storage through a centralized Web-based management console. Astrum lets companies apply storage management policies to enterprise resources. The software centrally monitors and reports on Microsoft Exchange email and Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle databases. For pricing, contact Astrum Software at 617-242-5757.
Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to [email protected].
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