Storage Informer
Storage Informer

Tag: Database

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

by on Jul.09, 2010, under Storage

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

EMC logo
From aspirational to pragmatic:

EMC Unified Storage Is 20% More Efficient.  Guaranteed.

That’s the tag line for the storage efficiency campaign we’ve recently launched in this hotly contested part of the market.

And, from all indications, it appears that it’s working quite well …

The Background

If you haven’t been following this particular drama closely, maybe I should bring you up to date.

This specific part of the storage market — dubbed "unified storage" (one storage platform that supports file and block protocols) is one of the most brutally competitive parts of the storage and larger IT landscape.

Smaller organizations use these storage arrays to run just about everything they’ve got.  Larger organizations use these for non-mission-critical applications and general purpose storage.  And some specific organizations occasionally put up vast amounts to support specific online services.

In this category, it’s hard to differentiate on performance, since — well — for many of the use cases good enough is good enough.  Ditto for topics like availability and replication.  And, even though there’s a ton of great software integration betwee n these arrays and environments like VMware and Microsoft, there’s only so much of that integration stuff you can use.

Which leaves us with the central topic of efficiencywho can use less raw storage capacity to get the job done?  At the end of the day, everyone pays pretty much the same for component level inputs … it’s what you get out of it that matters.

Lots Of New Technology Here

Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of new approaches to drive storage efficiency, and they tend to show up in this segment first.  Things like thin provisioning.  Compression and deduplication.  The use of enterprise flash drives to enable use of more low-cost storage devices, like SATA.  Even spin-down and automigration to even lower-cost archives, whether they be internal to the organization or provided as an external service (e.g. cloud).

So much so, in fact, th at it’s very hard to sort through all the noise and fanfare around who’s more efficient.  And, given the competitiveness of this segment, there’s an awful lot of noise indeed.

So we decided to make it easy for everyone.

The First Round Of Storage Guarantees

About a year or so ago, we all saw the first round of "efficiency guarantees" pop up in the market.  Frankly speaking, I and many others saw them for what they were — basically, a cheap marketing gimmick.

Why?  Although they offered up the appearance of considerable savings (e.g. up to 50% !!!) they had some fundamental flaws.

First, they were usually up against easy compares — to qualify, you had to switch between RAID 1 (mirroring) and parity RAID.  That gets you 40%+ just there.  Second, to get these results, frequently you had to use  more exotic configurations that required turning off certain useful features, like snap reserves. 


Second, when you went looking for details, there were all sorts of useful workloads excluded, like databases, or data objects that were already compressed. 

More yuck.

Finally, there were multiple pages of terms and conditions, boatloads of exclusions and caveats, and a registration and acceptance process involved.  All of the work to get any potential value had to be done by the customer. 

Maximum yuck.

Some of us thought we could do better, so we did.

A Better Guarantee?

EMC, in the normal course of our business, purchases and tests just about every decently competitive storage array in the marketplace.  We put them in the lab, and run them through their paces.

Sometimes, it’s for interoperability and compatibility purposes.  A lot of the EMC portfolio has to work well with storage arrays we don’t make.  Other times, it’s to find out what’s really behind all the noisy claims that people make — we really want to know for ourselves.

And, in the course of doing all this, we were continually struck by one observation — many of these competitive storage devices weren’t all that efficient at converting raw storage capacity to usable capacity in a predictable and usable manner.

So we decided to do something about it …

The EMC Unified Storage Guarantee

We tried to make this as simple as possible.

Configure an EMC unified storage platform using our tools and standardized best practices.

Configure the other guy’s unified storage platform using their tools and standardized best practices, or use ours if you don’t have access to theirs.

Compare the raw capacities — if EMC doesn’t do the job with at least 20% less raw capacity, we’ll make up the difference.

No disclaimers, caveats, exceptions, legalese, registration processes, etc. 

Simply put — no BS.

In addition to the program web page, there are a couple of cool promotional videos we’ve done (here and here), as well as Christopher Kusek’s blog (@cxi) where he’s having way too much fun with all of this. The backstory here is also fun: Chris worked for one of our competitors in this space for many years before recently joining EMC.  There’s also a nice Facebook fan page if you’re so inclined.

You’ll see more of t his program in the future for one simple reason: it’s working.

How This Plays Out

Customers and partners of all sizes and shapes are taking us up on this offer. 

It might be a modest 10TB filer through a partner, it might be a multi-petabyte transaction as a direct account — or anything in between.  Again, as I said above, no exceptions and no BS.

The prospect of saving, say 200TB on a petabyte-sized config definitely gets a bit of attention :-)

Customers are putting our configs up against the other guys, and they’re discovering what we’ve known all along — the other guys are pretty inefficient when it comes to converting raw capacity to usable stuff.

Most times, these people are seeing at least a 20% difference, maybe more.  To be fair, there are a few exceptions where we came in a bit under the 20% mark, and EMC has quickly made good with more free capa city with no fuss whatsoever.

Are these customers using the 20% savings to spend less on storage?  No.

Generally speaking, they’re using the savings to get an additional 20% of capacity from EMC.

Think about it: 20% more for your money from EMC.

And that’s a deal that many people are finding just too tempting to pass up.

What Lies Ahead?

As far as I can see, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t make this program a permanent fixture of our competitive offerings going forward.

The underlying basis for our storage efficiencies are architectural, and hard for our competitors to replicate.  The program isn’t really costing us anything, since in most cases the 20% savings is already there, or more. 

This could go on for a very long time indeed — there’s no reason to stop.

So, I have to ask — what are *you* going to do with your extra 20%?


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New Intel SOA Expressway for Healthcare Release Powers Patient/Provider Community Exchange at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

by on Oct.13, 2009, under Storage

New Intel® SOA Expressway for Healthcare Release Powers Patient/Provider Community Exchange at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

It’s been about a year and half since we first released Intel® SOA Expressway for Healthcare, which is a purpose-built, easy-to-deploy integration appliance for connecting islands of information together to enable a secure, high-performance, best-of-breed health information infrastructure. We have now begun shipping release 2.2, which contains a number of new feature enhancements.

  • Healthcare Quick Start Kit: prebuilt modules, workflows and data transformation maps to reduce learning curve and improve developer productivity.
  • Improved Microsoft Windows Support: new deployment options that take advantage of Windows installer technology make it simple to automate deployment and installation of SOA Expressway across a cluster of servers. In addition, we’ve beefed up support for command line scripting (CLI) on windows to enable even more flexible product configuration and administration using automated scripting tools.
  • Reliable Messaging and Replay: advanced support for configuring guaranteed delivery options for sending and receiving of health data.
  • Hardened Appliance Form-factor: In partnership with Dell, we now offer a 1U high-performance hardware appliance with tamper-resistant features not available anywhere else.
  • Virtualization: Since Intel SOA Expressway is software it supports a variety of hardware virtualization technologies. We’ve now made that even easier by making the product available as a Virtual Appliance in the VMWare Virtual Appliance Marketplace

So is this just another integration engine for healthcare? Well, I’ll give you three examples why this product is different:

1. Intel SOA Expressway for Healthcare lets you extend your legacy Health IT. Because rip-and-replace is never an option, we’ve designed an integration appliance that is easily-deployed as an overlay to your existing Healthcare I.T. applications, databases, even interface engines. Intel SOA Expressway lets you extend your legacy environment by quickly assembling data from a diverse set of proprietary applications and databases into higher-value, standardized information services layer.

2. Intel SOA Expressway for Healthcare is a highly integrated appliance. It performs message transformation, mediation and routing, and security in a lightweight, tightly integrated, high performance runtime. Intel’s approach addresses the high-cost, poor performance and low flexibility of the software “suite” approach to integration, which typically require a substantial investment in an entire stack of separate products to meet even simple integration needs.

3. Intel SOA Expressway for Healthcare is future-proofed. Most integration products today are focused on micro-level integration, simply moving health data from point-to-point, which actually contributes to information silos, adding cost and complexity to a healthcare information environment. Unlike these products which provide a thin veil of standards support at the edge of the product, Intel SOA Expressway for Healthcare has “designed-in” healthcare standards deep within the product to enable healthcare interoperability, not just point-to-point integration.


Intel SOA Expressway maximizes value from your “legacy” investment while “future-proofing” IT infrastructure — all at breakthrough cost. The value is clear, whether you are looking to build a backbone for a state or national Health Information Exchange; a B2B Hub for high-volume, secure message processing; or even a provider looking for an inexpensive health information gateway to efficiently exchange healthcare information inside hospitals and with health information networks.

Recently, Intel SOA Expressway was selected by Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBI), 600+ bed teaching hospital in New Jersey to power the launch of its first comprehensive electronic health information exchange, which will offer a shared clinical data repository to its partner institutions, physicians, other care givers and patients. Intel collaborated with healthcare portal solutions provider IGI to create a next generation solutions for hospitals and IDNs, enabling healthcare providers to securely exchange patient information at the point of care — key to providing better services and reducing integration costs. View the on-demand webinar here.

IGI is an active Intel systems integrator partner that provides an Affiliated Physician and Patient portal solution that enables uniform access to a broad range of services such as referrals and care coordination, e-prescribing, instant access to labs, claims and medication history, as well as a comprehensive virtual patient record. The integration between IGI ORBIT® and Intel® SOA Expressway for Healthcare provides an efficient, scalable, SOA based solution that connects and translates data as it moves across a healthcare network. IGI ORBIT utilizes Intel SOA Expressway to retrieve data for portal display from a variety of hospital systems including EHR, EMR, database, or HL7 based sources, providing the fastest, simplest way for to enable integrated care services and interoperability across a community of participants.

For more information visit the Intel SOA Expressway for Healthcare website here.


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Michael Dell is Bullish on Nehalem-EX in Oracle Open World Keynote

by on Oct.13, 2009, under Storage

Michael Dell is Bullish on Nehalem-EX in Oracle Open World Keynote

Nehalem-EX has been in the news quite a bit over the past several months. 

First, in May, Intel described how Nehalem-EX will be at the heart of the next generation of intelligent and expandable high-end Intel server platforms, delivering a number of new technical advancements (Intel Nehalem Architecture, Quick Path Interconnects, 16 threads, 24MB cache, new RAS features like MCA-Recovery, 16 DIMM slots per socket, 128 threads on 8 Socket systems) and boost enterprise computing performance (the greatest gain in generational performance ever seen at Intel.)

Next at IDF in September Intel described how Nehalem-EX would deliver a bigger generational performance improvement than that delivered by the Intel Xeon 5500 processor (including a 3X Nehalem-EX gain in database performance); a large shift in Xeon scalability with over 15 >8S systems anticipated and expandability for the most data demanding enterprise applications, the addition of about 20 RAS capabilities traditionally found in the Intel® Itanium processor family – along with a demonstration of MCA-Recovery. IBM announced their upcoming BladeCenter products that will support 4S Nehalem-EX blades and Super-Micro announced a 1U box, specifically targeted at HPC.  Staying on the HPC theme, Mark Seager from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was also quoted with stating that “Nehalem-EX allows us to invest in science, not the computer science of porting and adapting software to new architectures, but real science.  Nehalem EX is an innovative SMP on a chip solution that provides us access to a “super node” … The result is an astonishing new level of performance.”

And Oracle Open World on October 13th, the drumbeat for Nehalem-EX continued.  Michael Dell in his Oracle Open World Keynote today discussed how Nehalem-EX will provide a true leap in performance, with up to 9x the memory bandwidth and 3x the database performance vs. prior generation.  And he mentioned that Dell’s unique implementation of the memory architecture will allow the most cost effective scaling, with 4S systems up to 1TB of DRAM (64 Dimms x 16GB Memory sticks) enabling customers to run their entire database in system memory.  He also mentioned that standard based systems are driving new efficiencies with applications like Oracle, where Dell’s data shows Oracle apps run better on x86 vs. proprietary architectures, up to 200% better. 

Keep your eyes on the Server Room for more Nehalem-EX news as it comes between now and launch.  And visit the Intel booth at South Moscone Booth #1621 to learn more.



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