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30Aug/10Off

Dell vs HP in R&D

TechOps Guy: Nate

Came across this link on Data Center Knowledge to Forbes online -

In fiscal 2010 (ended January 31st), Dell spent $617 million for R&D, or 1.2% of sales [..] an R&D budget like that isn’t going to cut it.

[..]Hewlett Packard, the larger company, already has more going on. In the trailing 12 months, it spent $2.849 billion here, or 2.3% of sales.

[..] Assuming both want to stay relevant five years hence, 3Par looks like it will be a bargain for whichever firm wins this bidding war and likely there will be some incredibly long and tense meetings in the conference rooms of the firm that loses.

And another link from Data Center Knowledge to the Boston Globe, which says something I don't really agree with -

EMC has also partnered with Dell to allow the computer company to resell high-end network storage products made by EMC. But that arrangement would be severely tested if Dell winds up buying 3Par, giving Dell its own high-end storage provider.

For that reason Kerravala said EMC will most likely fare better if HP ends up winning the 3Par bidding war.

“At least that will preserve EMC’s partnership with Dell,’’ he said.

In the short term it will of course preserve the EMC partnership, but the rift has been created by Dell, showing EMC it's not willing to sit by and just refer sales along to the EMC direct sales team much longer. I'm sure EMC realizes it's days are numbered as a tight partner with Dell(hence it's partnership with Cisco UCS which I'm sure didn't make Dell a happy camper).

I don't see Dell going to HDS if they lose out on 3PAR, they probably wouldn't look that hot if they went to HDS's arms so soon after HP and Sun/Oracle ditched them.

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30Aug/10Off

Dell getting cold feet

TechOps Guy: Nate

3PAR announced today:

3PAR® (NYSE: PAR), the leading global provider of utility storage, today announced its board of directors has determined that the unsolicited proposal by Hewlett-Packard Company to acquire all of 3PAR’s outstanding common stock at $30 per share constitutes a “superior proposal” (as that term is defined in 3PAR’s previously announced merger agreement with Dell). The 3PAR board of directors notified Dell of its intention to terminate the merger agreement with Dell, immediately following the expiration of the three business day period contemplated by, and the satisfaction of the other conditions set forth in, the merger agreement with Dell, in order to enter into the merger agreement with HP on the terms set forth in HP’s acquisition proposal.

CNBC looked at a couple of past storage deals to compare the valuations of them vs the current deal:

  • HP's latest bid is 8.5 times 3PAR's current projected revenue, 10 times last year's revenue
  • Dell paid 10 times revenue for Equallogic back in 2007; valuation now looks smart
  • EMC paid 8 times revenue for Data Domain last year  (too early to tell how it's working out according to CNBC)

Tick, tock Dell. Throw in the towel go after Compellent or Pillar or maybe even Xiotech.

Looks like 3PAR announced a pretty big deal which has 3cV in it, expecting a lot more in the future!

With this new partnership, Nissho adds a disaster recovery (DR) solution to its enhanced service offerings, which currently include public cloud development and a private cloud environment service based on 3cV. “3cV” is a proven blueprint for the virtual datacenter featuring the combination of 3PAR Utility Storage, HP® BladeSystem c-Class Server Blades, and VMware vSphere. This solution is designed to enable improved server efficiency and to enhance service levels in private cloud datacenters. All the cloud service-focused products that Nissho offers, including those based on 3cV, are available at the company’s CloudNagivate Center, Nissho’s private technology verification center where customers can verify the operation and performance of a cloud-based infrastructure built on 3PAR technology.

Dell simply doesn't have an answer to HP's c Class blades.

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28Aug/10Off

What a mouthful

TechOps Guy: Nate

I've thought about this off and on and I better write about it so I can forget about it.

I think Force10 is way too verbose in choosing the phrase to describe their company, it's quite a mouthful -

Force10 Networks, Inc., a global technology leader that data center, service provider and enterprise customers rely on when the network is their business[..]

I like Force10, I have been watching them for five years now, I just think any phrase you choose to describe your company should be short enough to say it in one (casual) breath.

How about "Force10 Networks Inc., a global networking technology leader".

Force10's marketers are very nice folks I've sent them two corrections over the years to their web site(one concerning the number of ports a competitor offers in their products, the other with a math error in a graphic showing much you can save on their products), they were very kind and responsive(and fixed both problems pretty quickly too). This one I won't send to them directly since it's more than a cosmetic change :)

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27Aug/10Off

CNBC Videos on 3PAR

TechOps Guy: Nate

I've watched CNBC for a long time, I find it pretty entertaining, even though I don't invest.

So often these mergers come about usually about industries and companies I have no interest in and can't really gauge whether the analysts know what they are talking about.

This one is different of course as a user of 3PAR products for the past 3 years or so I know their stuff inside and out. And I'm constantly looking out for other interesting technologies.

Here's several videos

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27Aug/10Off

HP Now offering $2 billion

TechOps Guy: Nate

Dell apaprently is being a little bitch again and matched HP's $27 offer for 3PAR, so HP came right back and offered $30 a share, or $2 billion, up from the $1.1 billion original offer from Dell ($18/share).

PALO ALTO, Calif., Aug 27, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- HP /quotes/comstock/13*!hpq/quotes/nls/hpq (HPQ 37.66, -0.56, -1.47%) today announced that it has increased its proposal to acquire all of the outstanding shares of 3PAR Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!par/quotes/nls/par (PAR 31.71, +5.68, +21.82%) to $30 per share in cash, or an enterprise value of $2.0 billion. The proposal represents an 11 percent premium above the most recent price offered by Dell Inc. of $27 per share. HP's proposal is not subject to any financing contingency and has been approved by HP's board of directors. Once approved by 3PAR's board, HP expects the transaction to close by the end of the calendar year.

Cut your losses and run Dell. Go buy Compellent.

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27Aug/10Off

What should HP do with 3PAR

TechOps Guy: Nate

Assuming HP gets them, which I am optimistic will occur. This is what I think HP should do.

I'm sure this is all pretty obvious but it gives me something to write about :)

Why the changes to the EVA offerings and dropping of the F200 from 3PAR? To me, it all comes down to the 4 node architecture that 3PAR has, and the ability to offer persistent cache.

3PAR Persistent Cache is a resiliency feature designed to gracefully handle component failures by eliminating the substantial performance penalties associated with “write-through” mode. Supported on all quad-node and larger InServ arrays, Persistent Cache leverages the InServ’s unique Mesh-Active design to preserve write-caching by rapidly re-mirroring cache to the other nodes in the cluster in the event of a controller node failure.

(click on images for larger version)

Persistent cache allows service providers to operate at higher levels of utilization because they know they can maintain high performance even when a controller fails(or if two/three controllers fail in a 6/8 node T800 as long as they are the right nodes!), one of my former employers has a bunch of NetApp stuff, and I'm told they run them pretty much entirely active/passive, so as to protect performance in the event a controller fails. I'm sure that is a fairly common setup.

This is also useful during software upgrades, where the controllers have to be rebooted, or hardware upgrades (adding more FC ports or whatever).

Another reason is the ease of use around configuring multi site replication, and the ability to do synchronous long distance replication on the mid range systems.

3PAR® is the first storage vendor to offer autonomic disaster recovery (DR) configuration that enables you to set up and test your entire DR environment—including multi-site, multi-mode replication using both mid-range and high-end arrays—in just minutes.

[..]

Synchronous Long Distance replication combines the best of both worlds by offering the data integrity of synchronous mode disaster recovery and the extended distances (including cross-continental reach) possible with asynchronous replication. Remote Copy makes all of this possible without the complexity or professional services required by the monolithic vendors that offer multi-target disaster recovery products, and at half the cost or less.

I can understand why 3PAR came up with the F200, it is a bit cheaper, the only difference is the chassis the nodes go in, the nodes are the same, everything else is the same. So to me it's a no brainer to spend the extra what 10-15% up front and get the capability to go to four controllers even if you don't need that up front. Takes an extra 4U of rack space. If you really want to be cheap, go with the small 2-node EVA.

I find it kind of funny that on the main page for EVA, the EVA-4000's blurb for what it is "Ideal for" is blank.

Assuming HP gets them, which I am optimistic will occur. This is what I think HP should do.

* Phase out current USP-based XP line with the 800-series of 3PAR systems, currently the T800
* Phase out the EVA Cluster with the enterprise 400-series of 3PAR systems, currently the T400
* Phase out the EVA 6400 and 8400 with the mid range 400-series of 3PAR systems, currently the F400
* Phase out the 3PAR F200, replace it with the EVA 4400-series

I'm sure this is all pretty obvious but it gives me something to write about :)

Why the changes to the EVA offerings and dropping of the F200 from 3PAR? To me, it all comes down to the 4 node architecture that 3PAR has, and the ability to offer persistent cache.

3PAR Persistent Cache is a resiliency feature designed to gracefully handle component failures by eliminating the substantial performance penalties associated with “write-through” mode. Supported on all quad-node and larger InServ arrays, Persistent Cache leverages the InServ’s unique Mesh-Active design to preserve write-caching by rapidly re-mirroring cache to the other nodes in the cluster in the event of a controller node failure.

(click on image for larger version)

Persistent cache allows service providers to operate at higher levels of utilization because they know they can maintain high performance even when a controller fails(or if two controllers fail in a 6/8 node T800 as long as they are the right nodes!), one of my former employers has a bunch of NetApp stuff, and I'm told they run them pretty much entirely active/passive, so as to protect performance in the event a controller fails. I'm sure that is a fairly common setup.

Another reason is the ease of use around configuring multi site replication, and the ability to do synchronous long distance replication on the mid range systems.

I can understand why 3PAR came up with the F200, it is a bit cheaper, the only difference is the chassis the nodes go in, the nodes are the same, everything else is the same. So to me it's a no brainer to spend the extra what 10-15% up front and get the capability to go to four controllers even if you don't need that up front. Takes an extra 4U of rack space. If you really want to be cheap, go with the small 2-node EVA.

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26Aug/10Off

Thank you HP

TechOps Guy: Nate

That's more like it, HP knows what they are doing, they just boosted their offer to $27/share for 3PAR.

SEATTLE (AP) -- Hewlett-Packard Co. has again raised its bid for 3Par Inc. above an offer from rival Dell Inc., suggesting that the little-known data-storage maker could be worth more with one of the PC companies' marketing muscle behind it.

The latest offer from HP for $27 per share in cash, or about $1.69 billion, is nearly three times what 3Par had been trading at before Dell made the first bid last week.

Bring it on. Did I ever mention 3PAR went IPO on my birthday? Coincidence yeah I know but maybe it was a sign.. if I recall right they were supposed to IPO one day earlier but something delayed it by one day. I never did buy any stock(as I mentioned before I don't buy stocks or bonds).

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26Aug/10Off

This is a joke, right?

TechOps Guy: Nate

This is a joke, right?

So today, right after the jobless claims came out, Dell came out and increased their bid for 3PAR to $24.30, thirty cents above HP's offer, which was $6.00 above Dell's original offer.

Even now, hours later I can't help but laugh, I mean this is a good example showing what kind of company Dell is. Why are they wasting everyone's time with a mere 1% increase in their bid?

A survey recently done by Reuters came up with an estimated $29 final price for 3PAR.

[..] That's why some analysts say traditional metrics aren't sufficient in assessing the value of 3PAR -- a small company with unique technology that could grow exponentially with the the massive salesforces of either Dell or HP.

This morning on Squawk Box folks were saying the next step is for HP to bid up again and get 3PAR to eliminate the price matching clause with Dell to level the playing field.

I keep seeing people ask who needs 3PAR more. I think it's clear Dell needs them more, Dell has nothing right now. But I'm sure Dell will do a lot to screw up the 3PAR technology over time, so HP is the better fit, more innovative company with more market leadership and of course a lot more resources from pretty much every angle.

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25Aug/10Off

Moving on up to Number two

TechOps Guy: Nate

Brings a tear to me eye, my favorite switching vendor had a pretty impressive announcement today:

Extreme Networks commanded the #2 revenue position for data center Top-of-Rack switches according to the quarterly Ethernet market share report, behind only Cisco, driven by its industry leading Summit(R) X650, Summit X450 and Summit X480 switches. In the "Top of Rack" switch port shipment category, Extreme Networks increased its port shipments by 194% compared to the same quarter one year ago. This demonstrates continued momentum for the Company in the dynamic and demanding data center Ethernet market.

If you haven't already seen the X650, X480 and even X450 Series of switches check them out. They do offer several capabilities that no other vendor on the market provides. And they are very affordable.

I have blogged on some of my more favorite topics in the past, with regards to their technology. I've been using Extreme stuff for just about 10 years now I think.

[tangent -- begin]

I remember the 2nd switch I bought(this one for my employer), a Summit 48 with an external power supply I think it was in 2001. Bought it off Ebay from what I assume was a crashed dot com or something. Anyways they didn't include the cable(sold "as is") to connect the switch to the redundant power supply. So I hunted around trying to find what part to order, couldn't find anything. So I called support.

The support tech had me recite the serial# of the unit to him, and he said they don't have a part# for that cable, so they couldn't sell me one. But he happened to have a few cables laying around so he put one in a fedex pouch and shipped it to me, free. I didn't have a support contract(and didn't get a support contract until I made a much larger purchase several years later). But I guess you could say that friendly support engagement certainly played a factor in me keeping tabs on the company and the products going forward, leading up to a million dollar purchase several years later(different company) of more than 3,000 ports.

I used my first switch, also Summit 48 as my home network switch for a good 5 years, before I decided it drew too much power for what I needed(48 port switch running on maybe 5-6 ports total), and was pretty noisy(as are pretty much all switches from that era, I think it was manufactured in '98).  Got a good deal on a Summit 48si, and upgraded to that! For another year, and then retired it to a shelf. It drew half the power, and after replacing all of the fans in the unit(original fans too loud) it was quieter, but my network needs shrank even more from ~5-6 systems to ~2-3 (yay VMware), and I wanted to upgrade to gigabit.

From the Summit 48 article above, I thought this is a good indication on how easy their stuff is to use, even more than 10 years ago:

[..]We tested it with and without the QoS enabled. Without the QoS enabled, I began to see glitches in the video. The video halted abruptly at rates over 98 percent. With two commands, I enabled QoS on the Summit switches. Summit48 intelligently discarded the packets with lower priority, preserving the video stream's quality even at 100 percent utilization.

Eventually recycled my Summit 48, along with an old Cisco switch(which I never used), couple really old Foundry load balancers(never used them either) a couple of years ago. Was too lazy to try to ebay them or put them on craigslist. Still have my 48si, it's a really nice switch I like it a lot, they still sell it in fact even today. And still release updates(ExtremeWare 7.x) for it. The Summit 48 code base(ExtremeWare 1.x-4.x) was retired probably in 2002, so nothing new released for it for a long time.

[tangent -- end]

So, congratulations Extreme for doing such a great job.

24Aug/10Off

EMC and IBM’s Thick chunks for automagic storage tiering

TechOps Guy: Nate

If you recall not long ago IBM released some SPC-1 numbers with their automagic storage tiering technology Easy Tier. It was noted that they are using 1GB blocks of data to move between the tiers. To me that seemed like a lot.

Well EMC announced the availability of FAST v2 (aka sub volume automagic storage tiering) and they too are using 1GB blocks of data to move between tiers according to our friends at The Register.

Still seems like a lot. I was pretty happy when 3PAR said they use 128MB blocks, which is half the size of their chunklets. I thought to myself when I first heard of this sub LUN tiering that you may want a block size as small as, I don't know 8-16MB. At the time 128MB still seemed kind of big(before I had learned of IBM's 1GB size).

Just think of how much time it takes to read 1GB of data off a SATA disk (since the big target for automagic storage tiering seems to be SATA + SSD).

Anyone know what size Compellent uses for automagic storage tiering?