Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year & Food for Your Brain

I wish all my readers the very best in 2006 and beyond.

Last week, being off from regular daily activities, I had fun writing blog entries. I decided to write this entry while taking time off worrying about forgetting something to pack for travel tomorrow.

This entry will definitely be the last one for 2005 and most likely will not be followed by another entry for few weeks or even more. Before I become MIA, I would like to leave you with some of my thoughts.

  1. Is encryption right solution for "data at rest"? See That Which Was Lost Has Been Found, Waiting for my Marriott Letter.

  2. Will utility (cooling, power, and space) cost become a major component of total operating cost of storage as Petabyte+ storage repositories become norm? See The Price of Performance.

  3. Should all data be archived? See Data Retention Policy: US Lawyers versus UK Lawyers, How long IS permanent?.

  4. Will risk of data loss during RAID rebuild time become major concern with increase in disk capacity?

  5. Will iSCSI vendors finally realize the drawbacks of positioning as cheaper alternative to FC-SAN?

  6. Will RSS become a primary method for technical support and service notifications?

Finally, can somebody please try to bring down the Walled Gardens of Infrastructure? See Google Base + Vertical Search + RSS = Death of Walled Gardens.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Off Topic: Lets cook some Ducks

For the Holidays in San Diego ... got to support my alma mater. ;-)

Update: I can't believe Toronto Cable channels decided to show WWE Smackdown instead of ducks getting cooked. I hope to see it again, this time in person in Eugene in 2006.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Does Blogging belong to Upper Echelon only?

I am having very interesting time since Hu Yoshida commented through The value of Blogging - Feedback on my blog entry about him. I received interesting comments from wide variety of audiences and thank you very much to everyone who took time to comment and send messages.

*** Ignore this section if you don't want to read about me. ***

One of my ex-colleague appropriately commented "stirring the pot again, aren't you?"

Those who know me in any capacity are aware of my tendency to create waves in a calm pool and shake the tree when there is no wind, time to time. Every 12 to 18 months, I like to question what I am doing and what I should be doing. And typically, if I come up with answers, I don't like, I change things just to get myself out of comfort zone.

Actually, I was reading a recent essay, Good and Bad Procrastination by Paul Graham (one guy on my list of people, I like to have lunch with). He summed it up perfectly with following quote which he attributed to a 1986 lecture: You and Your Research by Richard Hamming of Bell Labs. (paraphrasing here)

What's the best thing I could be working on, and why aren't I?

Hopefully this gives the first insight to anonymous who wanted to know about me and my stance. More to come.

*** *** ***

I can appreciate some receiving the insight from Hu Yoshida blog entry, Where should intelligence reside?. Storage vendors are not doing a great job in communicating the technology behind their products. I just can not fathom that an industry that claims to be "ahead of the curve" in meeting customer needs of data storage and distribution is so poor in disbursing data itself.

Blogging is a powerful tool, and if properly used, has the potential to bridge this information gap between storage vendors and its stakeholders. An anonymous reader commented "the data storage conversation in the blogosphere is still pretty small." I wish you could see the quizzical look of WHY on my face … may be I should look in to podcasting to incorporate audio and visual cues! Any partners for podcasting? If you are planning to join storage blogosphere, spend sometime reading different blogs and ask yourself:

What's the best thing I could be writing on in my blog? And start writing, nothing happens until you do something.

And, if you are a CXO and want to tell everyone in your blog how to write scripts to automate storage management tasks for your products, ask yourself: Is a CXO right source for such information? Or should I have someone else involved in blogging too?.

There is a disturbing pattern emerging in corporate storage blogosphere. Most blogs except one, Adaptec, are written by upper echelon of the kingdom. This trend of restricting blogging to upper echelon is a fatal mistake in leveraging the potential of blogging to bridge information gap. Just take a look at Microsoft and its blogging gang that includes from Ray Ozzie, Robert Scoble to its developers. How effectively these people are using blogging to communicate at different levels.

BTW, anyone interested in reading a storage technology blog, must have Adaptec's Storage Advisors in their Feedreader. With few tweaks, it can be an excellent storage technology blog. Kudos to their blog strategist for thinking differently. And if you are interested in reading storage business blog, include NetApp's Dave Hitz (Another guy on my list of people, I like to have lunch with) in your Feedreader.

"One Prediction a Day" desk calendar, anyone?

What's up with everybody's fascination for making predictions for new year? Most of the time they are more wrong than right anyway.

For a long time, people made 10 or fewer predictions but now the trend is to make as many predictions as possible. I guess it sounds better when they proclaim that 24 predictions came true instead of 6.

Here are some well talked people in blogosphere who decided that even Top 10 list of predictions is not long enough. I predict these guys are destined for "One Prediction a Day" desk calendar.

Jason Calacanis, Weblog, made 20 predictions for 2006. Updated Link.

John Battelle, Searchblog made 17 predictions for 2006.

Philipp Lensen, Google Blogoscoped made 15 predictions for 2006.

Did you come across anyone who made too many predictions? Share them with your comments.

Help me collect 365 technology predictions with fewest number of authors.

Well, I also decided to hop on prediction bandwagon but with couple of twists - only one prediction that spans multiple years... Coming soon to a computer screen near you!

Monday, December 26, 2005

SeaGator - A puzzled vision

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and Holiday weekend. I am still puzzled about getting Tide to Go as Christmas gift yesterday… may be I am not seeing the spots others see! Anyway I didn't get my wish, a Tablet PC. Oh! Well, I can't expect everything as gift. But I did get some that money can't buy. Thanks Santa!



For last few days, I have been puzzled by the Seagate acquisition of Maxtor. Well, nothing new, I have been puzzled about lot of things last week. In the media, it has been positioned as cost saving measure and price protection through consolidation.

When a merger between two competitors takes place and the only real benefit put forward is cost saving, To me, this is an admission of declining growth in their market segment or consolidating their positions to prepare against some external threat.

Personally, I like M&A reasons being future revenue growth instead of cost savings. I rather see 1 +1 = 2.2 instead of 1 + 1 = 1.8. And, more and more, SeaGator looks like 1.6.

A Cursory financial look (mind you, I am no accountant or financial analyst) suggests that SeaGator will have to bring in revenues 3 - 10% in excess of combined revenues of Seagate and Maxtor just to pay-off the acquisition in three years time frame. And the proclaimed cost savings are peanuts in the larger financial picture of SeaGator.

I don't expect any of the major customers of disk drives to roll-over and play dead in price negotiations either. And from risk management perspective, these customers are not going to give same business to SeaGator as they did to Seagate and Maxtor separately. In short term, SeaGator loss will be gain for Western Digital, Hitachi and other niche players.

Seagate and Maxtor were primarily playing in 2.5" and 3.5" disk drive market and array/server/desktop storage market. Seagate for Apple iPod and Maxtor for DVRs being their foray in to consumer electronics and mobile devices where both are losing these markets to newcomers and niche players with micro-drives and flash memory.

Storage for mobile devices and consumer electronics is a faster growing market but it seems Seagate and Maxtor couldn't take that quantum leap! So they are taking consolidation route to strengthen their position in existing segment.

But the same benefits that make sense to consolidate for SeaGator will turn SeaGator customers to look in to other options to regain their lost leverage.

In the long-term, this supplier consolidation will result in structural changes to the data storage array segment as it will force this segment to look beyond, re-evaluate their next generation designs and give serious considerations to products from emerging suppliers. In my opinion, major beneficiary of this consolidation will be the niche and emerging players not SeaGator.

I guess Seagate couldn't wait long enough for Santa to give it a better Christmas gift at half the price and with better future revenue growth potential.

If you do, you are damned and if you don't, you are still damned. Isn't being incumbent grand!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Good Guys can be bad, sometime!

Anybody who served in armed forces and fought on behalf of country is a good guy in my books. So Hu Yoshida, you may be voted by me as worst corporate blogger but you are still a good guy.

My criticism was due to the impression your blog entries gave out - Recipe of typical industry white papers:

Half to two-third technology + Rest product = Technology White Paper by a Vendor

My feedback: Let your personality shine in your blog entries, and you have good one according to industry journalists! The blog is as much about you and what is in your head instead of just rowing HDS boat.

Reading Where should intelligence reside? reminded me of a SNIA conference call four years ago, where storage vendors were bickering about virtualization, host vs. storage vs. switch vs. appliance, in-band vs. out-of-band, file vs. block, blah ... blah ... blah.

In last three years, I talked to lot of companies (up and down the food chain) and I have the opinion that in general (exceptions rule sometime):

Sales focuses on what is coming down the pipeline next quarter

Marketing focuses on what is coming down the pipeline next year

Product management focuses on what is coming down the pipeline in two years

C-executive focuses on what may happen in three years and beyond.

So, Mr. Yoshida, I rather read your thoughts about how the Seagate-Maxtor merger changes the market dynamics of data storage industry and your visions of where the industry is heading. Let your marketing people chime on "Where virtualization should reside" and "VMware works better with HDS than EMC storage".

On the topic of Seagate-Maxtor merger, actually I would really like to read thoughts of NetApp's Dave Hitz as he is big fan of Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma and whether he sees it as continuation of established threatened by emerging in disk drive industry.

I am really looking to generate discussion on where storage virtualization should reside. Perhaps you can post your position. Comment by Hu Yoshida

Why would you want to re-hash an issue that has been beaten to death already and most probably better addressed by HDS marketing department by now?

I think anyone, who believes virtualization with in storage infrastructure resides at any one specific location only, should quit smoking whatever they are smoking. In my opinion, storage virtualization is just a cog in larger infrastructure wheel that supports "Information any where, any time, any way" aka Information Virtualization. Anything that resides between information and its users will be virtualized eventually.

He shines some light on aspects of the technology that us journalist types skipped in school. A message by Terry Sweeney, Byte & Switch in response to my blog entry .

Terry, they still don't teach this stuff in school. May be Hu Yoshida should consider encouraging other HDS folks to blog and address such issues and let him address larger picture.

I am familiar with your work and follow your blogs. Comment by Hu Yoshida

Hey, thanks for the comments and reading my blog ... I didn't know I have readers in upper echelon of the kingdom!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Have Title, Let Marketing Will Blog

This morning, I read Terry Sweeney's blog entry Have Title, Will Blog (Side note: It is great to see industry rag getting into blogosphere, but B&S, you picked a lousy blog format).

He wrote:

"Actually, this is a trend I welcome. It gives customers a bit more insight into the culture of their existing or prospective vendors. It's also a chance to step outside the turgidity of press releases … typically stripped of its life and personality …."

I have to question Terry's definition of "stepping outside" because when I read these storage blogs, I get the same 'marketing' feeling that I get while reading White Papers and other marketing materials from storage vendors. It may be me just being Blog Dinosaur (having started writing Web Log in 2003) as mentioned by Bill Bowerman in his Blog comment. Or may be I am reading too much marketing material. I don't mind blogs being used for marketing (See how Riya CEO and VC Investor used blog successfully as marketing strategy) but, in my opinion, some of these storage blogs are too slick to classify as "stepping outside."

In last couple of years, I have seen several storage blogs come alive and die. Somehow, storage people are finding difficult to keep their blogs interesting or maintaining their interest in blogging. Even, time to time, I have been on hiatus too.

Anyway, I created a separate category of Storage Blog Links under my Favorite Blog Links. If you have a storage blog, you would like to have included, write a comment or send a message.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Storage Certification Material

Since I wrote about storage certifications in my previous blog entry "Storage Training, Certification & Large Archive", I received several messages requesting training material for the SNIA certifications. Unfortunately, I am unable to distribute the training course materials, I use in my sessions. It is not fair to course developers and training providers to distribute such material freely without permission.

In my previous blog entry "Training Feedback", I mentioned several resources that will help in preparing for SNIA Storage Networking Foundations exam. The same material can also be used to gain basic knowledge in data storage for people working in other technology area.

Using the SNIA Storage Network Foundations (S10-100) Exam Description (PDF file) as roadmap, I will try to cover some basic aspects of different data storage topics in my future blog entries.

Topic: Basic Storage Technology
Section: Identify Standards Organizations

Some industry organizations active in Data Storage industry that you need to be aware of:

Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA)

An association of producers and consumers of storage networking products whose goal is to further storage networking technology and applications, as listed in SNIA dictionary. Basically, it is an industry trade association formed by data storage vendors to cooperate and promote data storage technologies and solutions through standards, best practices, knowledge exchange and education.

SNIA Storage Security Industry Forum (SSIF)

It is SNIA forum working on developing best practices, technologies and promoting storage networking security.

Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA)

An association of manufacturers, systems integrators, developers and vendors of Fibre Channel (FC) based storage products.

Infiniband Trade Association

Some Standards Organizations and Committees active in developing and ratifying data storage standards are:

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standrads (INCITS) committees related to storage networking are:

Technical Committee T10 responsible for SCSI I/O Interface
Technical Committee T11 responsible for Fibre Channel (FC) Interface
Technical Committee T13 responsible for ATA Interface

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

The standard body responsible for IP (Internet Protocol) based Storage Networking protocols such as iSCSI, FCIP, iFCP.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

RIM >> "Research In Stasis"

From Good Morning Silicon Valley blog entry Betty Ford Center braces for wave of CrackBerry withdrawal cases,
Millions of CrackBerry addicts may soon find themselves disconnected and yearning for a fix, now that a federal judge has denied Research in Motion's request to halt the proceedings in its legal spat with patent firm NTP ... "Research In Motion considers changing name to Research In Stasis".

I guess no Canadian technology success can catch a break ... They turn into [fill any word you like] with time. Will RIM be next Nortel?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Riya may show pneumonia in x-ray

I wrote in my last blog entry Riya in Healthcare about Riya's automatic photo recognition and its potential in healthcare.

I came across the blog entry Automatic photo recognition: Tell me if this chest x-ray shows pneumonia at a blog maintained by Dr. Vesselin Dimov. I guess I am not alone in thinking about the attractiveness of Riya's technology in the healthcare market. It is great to read some validation from a healthcare professional for one of the potential applications of automatic photo recognition. I see at least four additional applications of Riya's technology in this space.

Unfortunately, every body is focused on RSNA 2005, most probably the largest healthcare event, next week so I don't expect any feedback for another couple of weeks.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Riya in Healthcare

Recently, I read about a photo search startup Riya.com (See, The Birth of Riya.com at Peter Rip's Blog). It is an interesting startup and more interesting is the marketing strategy they adopted - a good case study how web logs can be leveraged in promoting a company, product or service. And I guess by writing this entry, I became another cog in their wheel.

My interest in learning more about development with Riya's technology is little different. Usually, when, I read about new products and services being launched focusing on web, I try to explore how they can be extended in to enterprise or incorporated in to vertical industry applications.

Reading about Riya actually crystallized a thought, I had during flickr acquisition by Yahoo!. I have been reading several blogs and comments about how Riya can be used for face recognition/comparison and for security purposes.

But I see some potential for such technology in healthcare industry. Over the weekend, I refined these thoughts and the specific problems it may address. I was going to write a blog entry describing these ideas. But as a fact-checking before writing, I decided to take these ideas to a trusted source at an healthcare client. During the discussions, we came up with few more potential applications. And in the process ironically I landed up with a request not to publish further details. Hopefully, at a future date I can share them with the world. :-(

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Forward Looking Projects

In last couple of years, working as a freelance, my clients sometime float very interesting forward looking projects and ideas. These ideas sometime start out sounding wacky. But I enjoy the challenge to think, brainstorm and work with colleagues with totally different backgrounds across organizational silos. In the end, I usually land up researching feasibility of these projects for the clients anyway.

I wonder if this blog could be used to start discussing such projects, sharing what my research revealed and getting feedback from others.

I mentioned one such project in my previous blog entry about a very large multi-petabyte archive starting at 2PB and growing to 10PB within three years or so.

During my research in finding the potential issues with creating such large archive, I came across several initiatives. These projects are focusing on addressing different issues: power consumption, heat generation, single global namespace, ability to search the archive for specific information and retrieve a specific file or document within reasonable time etc.

Internet Archive seems to be the right place for starting such work as they are attempting to archive a large portion of Internet. I am particularly interested in the work, CR Saikley and team is doing on PetaBox at Capricorn Technologies focusing on power consumption and heat dissipation. Another interesting project is being done by Aloke Guha and his team on power management and MAID at Copan Systems.

In my opinion, there are quite a few other issues that need to be addressed before a reasonable solution for a large multi-petabyte archive can become a reality.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Same Seat Assigned to Two Passengers and Airline Chase to Bottom

Last week, I traveled on business to Phoenix, AZ using America West Airlines. Interestingly, the airline assigned several passengers same seat on the plane. It is just not the case of overbooking as these passengers were issued boarding passes with same seat numbers printed on them while there were at least half-a-dozen seats empty. I don’t know enough about airline reservation and seat assignment system. I am assuming the seat assignment is database driven. And found it strange that a seat number which is a unique with in a plane got assigned on multiple boarding passes … Is it a quirk in the seat assignment system or database design problem?

Also, what’s up with all airlines following Southwest and JetBlue business model in trying to become “me too” no-frills airlines and ignoring premium category? It looks like a “sheep herd” mentality of the airlines. I wonder when a startup airline will come around taking advantage of a vacuum being created by these airlines in premium travel space.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Continuous Data Protection & Availability (CDPA) 30,000 Feet View

The illustration is my attempt to describe the process for block level CDPA with 30,000 feet view. The concept is similar to versioning & journaling and database transaction logs. The main differences from other CDPA solutions are database driven CDPA tracker and removing the time-slice concept.



I believe a combination of file and block level CDPA can achieve optimal level of continuous data protection (CDP) desired by users. I hope CDP vendors wouldn't muck up the segment by positioning superiority of one level over another like virtualization or SAN vs. NAS.

It is not amusing anymore explaining that SAN and NAS are complementary technologies not 'competing' solutions.

Anyway, enough about CDP, it is time to get back to developing requirement definition for a large archive (2PB to 10PB) and creating a backup tutorial.

Monday, October 31, 2005

CDP, CAS, Audit, Time Travel, and Old Friend

It was great to see an old friend, Bill Bowerman joining the “Blog” trend by publishing his thoughts at ComputerWorld. At one time, Bill and I were colleagues at KOM Networks. In his blog, he wrote an interesting piece on CDP that resonates with me, having lived through the buzz of Virtualization, ILM, SAN Security and now CDP.

Also, his idea about CDP using WORM Optical solution reminded me of my discussion with him last July, outside Hilton in Downtown Toronto. I was reminiscing about how Content-Addressable Storage (CAS) vendors are claiming compliance with regulations by preventing the deletion of data from their storage. But none of CAS solutions can offer the “true” delete prevention and audit capability offered by the WORM Magneto-Optical (MO) and Optical disks.

In my opinion, preventing deletion of data is only one-fourth of the ‘audit’ equation for regulatory compliance, another one-fourth is the ability to prove the integrity of data in question, another one-fourth is ability to track any modifications made to the data in question, and last one-fourth is ability to see the modifications actually made to the data in question.

And the time travel capability can offer this ability to see chronologically the modifications actually made to the data. We talked about how the vendors who offer time travel capability on MO/Optical disks are missing a great opportunity by not extending this capability to magnetic disks.

As for CDPA (Continuous Data Protection & Availability), I believe there are easier way to achieve CDPA at both File level and at Block level.

File level CDPA is pretty easy to understand for anyone who has used DEC VMS which had versioning and journaling to achieve CDPA at file level. Of course at that time we didn’t give it fancy acronyms like CDPA. I got introduce to these features over a decade ago when I was working at Dow Chemical Company.

Versioning was great as every time a file was saved, VMS saved it with same name but incremented the version number (ex: WORD.TXT;23). So if we ever needed to discard the changes we made between two versions, we just needed to open the older version (ex: WORD.TXT; 15) and resave. Of course, those days storage capacity wasn’t plenty from today’s standards and we always complained about old versions taking up precious space. Almost everyone had a DCL script to delete old versions regularly to recover space.

Journaling offered the capability to recover changes we made in a file but lost them due to some failure before we could save the file.

I guess today’s File level CDPA will be some sort of versioning and journaling.

It may be easier to accomplish Block level CDPA by extending the current Snapshot technology. There are two components to storing data on any block level data storage device:

1. The blocks where the actual data is written, and
2. The blocks where pointers (metadata) to the actual data blocks are written.

Current snapshot technology only tracks the changes in the content of actual data blocks that need to be overwritten and then updates the pointers.

So how do you achieve CDPA using Snapshot technology? You are not going to get to true CDPA just by reducing the time interval between two PIT snapshots, as rightly pointed out by Bill. But you can achieve CDPA by continuously tracking the changes in pointers (metadata) blocks in addition to changes in actual data blocks.

I most probably need to further explain this CDPA concept in another blog entry as I need more time to draw a illustration explaining this concept.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Training Feedback

Recently, I got few emails from the people who attended my training sessions for Storage Foundation class. It is always great to get feedback from the participants. It helps me improve the future training sessions.

... Thanks very much for the excellent instruction ...

... It was very useful to receive the SNIA training ...

Last couple of sessions were excellent and very interactive as I got good cooperation from people attending my class. It is usually tough to balance the needs of diverse group of people as most sessions include both people who know a lot as well as people who know very little about storage.

Tips for SNIA Storage Network Foundations exam (S10-100)

In addition to training handouts, review Education Tutorials, The Shared Storage Model White Paper, and The basic concept of SMI-S. Also, don't forget to take practice test available at SNIA website and review questions in training handouts.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Backup Tutorial

Today, a client asked me to build a technology-focused tutorial on Backup & Recovery for technical support and solution design staff. I am also compiling a list of reference materials that cover the topic without "vendor marketing" stuff for client purchase.

I am sharing this list for everyone's benefit. I haven't reviewed most of the material listed here yet except the first book. As I get access to these materials, I will post my impressions. Let me know your favorite material on this topic.

BOOKS

1. The Backup Book: Disaster Recovery from Desktop to Data Center, By Dorian Cougias, E L Heiberger, Karsten Koop

2. Unix Backup & Recovery, By W. Curtis Preston

3. The Disaster Recovery Handbook, By Michael Wallace, Lawrence Webber

4. Using SANs and NAS, By W. Curtis Preston

5. Oracle 9i RMAN Backup & Recovery, By Robert Freeman, Matthew Hart

6. Security Planning and Disaster Recovery, By Eric Maiwald, William Sieglein

Friday, October 21, 2005

Storage Training, Certification & Large Archive

I have been AWOL for a while ... busy with consulting in healthcare storage and providing training for SNIA Storage Networking Certification Exams.

I got my SNIA Certified Professional (SCP) and SNIA Certified Systems Engineer (SCSE) certifications so I thought I put them to good use by helping others understand storage networking and achieve appropriate SNIA certification. In a recent training session, it was interesting to find out from one student, who lives and works in London England, the need and unavailability of qualified SAN professionals in Western Europe. So, it may be a good place to try for new opportunities ... may be I will try some short term work across the pond.

Consulting-wise, I am working on compiling business and technical requirements and designing a high-level architecture for large capacity (2 - 10 Petabyte) Regional Archive for a client... an interesting project. I am also involved with another project for archiving as managed services.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Do CAS devices meet HIPAA Security Requirements?

From an article on HIPAA Security Rule, Data Migration: Is Your PACS Running Naked?, published in Health Imaging magazine:

For those hospitals that have been using a PACS as the primary means for diagnostic reading and have been storing images on some sort of media (MOD, DLT, AIT), this means that if a second copy of the patient image data is not available and stored in a way as to provide data recovery in the event of a disaster to the main system, then the facility is not in compliance with the HIPAA Security requirements.

Does this mean that "the single instance of patient images stored in CAS devices" are not in compliance with HIPAA Security rule?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Network Calculators

Website with great set of network calculators. If you get involve in network design often, it is a great website to have handy.

Friday, June 10, 2005

New CAS Community

It looks like CAS vendors partnered together to create a CAS community website . I guess they want to widely distribute information about Content Addressed Storage (CAS). What could be the reason for it? Could this indicate slow acceptance in the marketplace?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Finally zing "may be" back at Byte and Switch

It is great to finally read, after a long time, a decent article being posted and written by one of Byte and Switch staff. I am referring to the article "No News is Not Good News" written by Mary Jander.

I used to read Byte & Switch articles regularly two years ago. It used to be a good site for its in-depth analysis articles on what is happening in business world of data storage. In last two years, it has lost its attractiveness with stories and articles which were nothing but regurgitating the marketing and press releases of storage vendors. May be they got too much focused on developing paid content and in turn forgot their site audience.

I hope this article is return of the "old" Byte and Switch, I used to know, ELSE they belong in their own "Bit Bucket."

Friday, April 01, 2005

Business Case for CAS in Medical Imaging

CAS -- How can a business case be made for Content-addressed Storage (CAS) for medical imaging (PACS) installations? I have read lot of material from most of CAS vendors. I am still not sure what CAS delivers beyond normal DAS/NAS based storage architecture for medical imaging clients.

I have been also looking into data transfer to a remote site. The site has been generating at least 10GB of new data every day. The challenge is overcoming the slow internet connection (DSL/T1) to manage daily transfer of at least 10GB of new data as well as using the same connection to request data from remote site in real-time which could be as much as 2GB.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A good reference for File System internals

I am presently helping an application product development group understand the different data storage technologies and how they impact their development decisions.

I am looking for a good reference on File Systems specifically NTFS internals and design. Drop me a comment if you can recommend one.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

How to Start a Startup

I read this interesting article "How to Start a Startup" written by Paul Graham...enjoyed thoroughly as I could relate to the context having gone through the same process now couple of times. I couldn't agree more with the three things he mentioned for creating a successful startup.

1. Good people

2. Delivering something customer actually want

3. Spend as little money as possible

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Storage Strategy for Online Archival of "Reference" Data

I have been thinking about a good strategy for keeping lot of archival reference type of data online all the time. What type of architecture would be appropriate for such purpose?

The challenge with Storage Area Network (SAN) is that it is too expensive to buy and manage especially for the information which is very infrequently accessed, need to be stored for long time and whenever access is required, the access requirement is NOW. I haven't been able to successfully make good case for establishing SAN for such purposes unless a site already has one in place.

The challenge with any type of secondary storage like tape or optical storage is the access requirement of NOW and also too messy to manage.

I am more and more getting interested in the storage brick concept utilized by TerraServer, Yahoo! and Google for hosting and managing large amount of "static" information ... looking for more details on such inexpensive implementations.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Storage need in Healthcare

Recently, Byte and Switch published an interesting article Healthcare Seeks Storage Rx. It is particularly interesting to me as recently I have been working with storage projects in Medical Imaging area.

I agree with Robert Cecil of Cleveland Clinic mentioning that he wants to buy a solution not the box.

I have gone through numerous storage related issues, both operational and design, for at least half-a-dozen PACS projects. The common theme appears to be that majority of PACS implementation will need reworking within couple of years of installation. Why? Because data storage is afterthought for both PACS vendor and Clinics who are installing PACS. Considering the size and number of studies like Mammo and multi-slice CTs, storage is going to be single largest component of ongoing maintenance expense for PACS implementation.

"There's a big opportunity for somebody in the industry to sell a solution that will last for years and years." How can you have a solution which last for years and years when you buy PACS storage designed to handle studies generated during first year? Cleveland Clinic may be happy with what they got today, but tomorrow may be whole another story!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Windows Performance Monitoring

Recently, I have been helping a client investigate performance issues with the implemented solution at a customer. It is Windows infrastructure involving Windows 2000, Sybase database, IIS, archiving, file compression and distribution. I have been spending a lot of time analyzing Performance logs generated from several servers. There seems to be quite a lot of information available Online and at TechNet, but one thing missing is step-by-step guide to analyzing performance logs. If you come across one, let me know.

Some of the resources available online are listed below.

Performance Monitoring Overview from Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Resource Kit

Performance Monitoring Overview from Microsoft Windows 2000

Sunday, January 02, 2005

How "anti-spam solution requiring sender validation" fail?

Recently, in reply to my email messages to three business contacts, I received messages back from their anti-spam solution, basically asking me to authenticate as I wasn't on recepients' permitted email addresses. How many people, who receive such messages, bother to go through this extra step? I didn't because... It was amusing as one of the message was to an anti-spam solution vendor. The other two were to service providers who were promoting their services at an event, I attended.

How many business leads and prospects are lost by companies who use such anti-spam solutions? Are these businesses aware of lost opportunities because a prospect got a "sender validation" reply instead of answer to his/her questions and decided to go to their competitors?

#1. This solution will block email communication from new business leads and prospects.

#2: You wouldn't generate any new business through email communication as you just eliminated this method of communication from new contacts.

#3: This solution may provide you detailed statistics justifying amount of time saved with this solution but you will never know how much business, you lost, because of additional hurdles "sender validation" process places between you and your potential customers.

#4: This solution may provide you detailed statistics on the messages blocked but most likely it will be reviewed by an IT person who has no clue of how specific messages relate to business activities/process.

#5: Your online/offline marketing efforts to reach out to new prospects will produce low results as some will elect to communicate through email and your "sender validation" will turn them off.

#6: It is a good solution ONLY when you are going to communicate via email with your existing clients/contacts and you are the only one who is allowed to initiate the new email communications with someone else ... wonder how will it work when both parties employ such solutions ... guess you will be using another mode of communication for first contact.

#7: This solution is a good example of how technology can prevent you from doing business using Internet.