FalconStor VTL 7.5 Features Multiple Dedupe Options

"Twenty-two years ago, my boss told me tape was dead," recalls Darrell Riddle, senior director of product marketing for FalconStor. However, as we all know, tape is still alive and well.

Even though the demand for continuous backup has grown tremendously, tape still satisfies a host of requirements for apps such as archiving and legal discovery, which is why FalconStor Software took the wraps off version 7.5 of FalconStor Virtual Tape Library (VTL), which the company is touting for its high-speed, inline dedupe performance and flexibility.

On the dedupe side, v7.5 adds inline functionality to a product that already had concurrent and post-processing capabilities, and says it has the flexibility to deploy these options in multiple configurations to match data types and available storage. Adding to the dedupe mix, v7.5 enables users to deploy FalconStor Turbo deduplication with post and current processing modes, which the company claims slashes I/O cycles and boosts performance up to 300 percent.

Specifically, in performance tests of a four-node cluster configuration, v7.5 registered dedupe speeds of more than 28 terabytes per hour with inline deduplication and over 40 terabytes per hour with post processing.

"V7.5 is scalable by either adding nodes or adding storage -- an option not available from other deduplication vendors -- allowing customers to scale two different ways, and dramatically reduce future storage spending while improving efficiency," FalconStor states, adding the product features "easy expansion of data repository nodes, lowering the cost of initial storage investment while providing capacity to grow with business demands."

Riddle hopes FalconStor will benefit from dynamic market conditions, saying "Gartner says a lot of companies will change their data protection vendors over the next couple of years."

FalconStor VTL 7.5 is currently available as software only, or as a fully configured appliance or virtual machine. Prices run from $2,500 to $4,000 per terabyte under management, based on the configuration.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 04/30/2012 at 12:48 PM1 comments

GreenBytes Solidarity Maximizes SSD Performance

After starting out in 2007 with software dedicated to Sun servers, GreenBytes wanted to sell their own turnkey appliances, so the company debuted a single-controller product that is still in use within tier two storage environments. Last October, the ambitious vendor unveiled its first dual controller product, the HA-3000, which use HDDs for capacity and the rapidly rising SSDs for performance.

Now, with the debut of GreenBytes Solidarity, the company has a dedicated, highly available SSD product for small and medium users that is aimed at virtualization and storage and offers benefits of SSD at magnetic capacities and prices.

Many of these SMB customers -- or departments in larger enterprises -- are finding that as they adopt virtualization, they are encountering new storage tiering challenges that require them to offer comprehensive systems that address a wide range of storage capabilities. In order to meet those challenges -- specifically reducing the storage footprint of virtual images -- GreenBytes has worked on deduplication engineering with VMware and Citrix.

Via the GreenBytes GO OS (Globally Optimized Operating System) , which features real-time, inline dedupe and compression, Solidarity packs enterprise-class features into a dual controller unit completely outfitted with SSD, offering 3.5 TB (25 TB effective) to 13.5 TB (60 TB effective), and delivers 70,000 R/W 8K IOPs with deduplication and hardware-assisted compression added.

In addition to combining green capabilities such as lower power consumption and less rackspace along with reduced costs and enhanced TCOs, GreenByes says "Solidarity offers large, virtual storage pools for single-tier storage, eliminating traditional tiering and the need for complicated tiering software processes and heuristics. Additionally, the Solidarity GO OS utilizes unique Smart White technology to coalesce writes and transactional/synchronous I/O to maximize system endurance and performance." This write-coalescing feature extends the life of SSDs.

Go OS also provides iSCSI SAN connectivity that integrates apps requiring high performance storage, while the StorageManager administration interface provides graphical tools and wizards to configure and provision iSCSI LUNs and file systems, along with subsequent monitoring.

Pricewise, three Solidarity nodes range in price from $59,000 to $120,000, and include dedupe and compression capabilities not found in competing products .

GreenBytes has 110 active customers, one-third of which are in Europe, while the other two thirds are in North America. Breaking them down by function, one third of customers utilize data protection, one third use virtualization, and one third employ general file and block storage.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 04/24/2012 at 12:48 PM3 comments

6 Hit Virtualization Products, 1 Hot Month

Sometimes, trying to keep up with the gusher of new product announcements is a hopeless pursuit. With that in mind, I offer capsule descriptions of some of the products that have recently graced my e-mail box:

Atlantis Computing -- Atlantis ILIO for Citrix XenApp: Atlantis claims this new capability addresses the difficulties users feel when attempting to virtualize Citrix XenApp deployments (no easy or quick task). The product reduces provisioning time, improves the user experience and reduces the amount of storage by up to 90 percent (welcome news) when running XenApp in virtual environments.

Flexera Software -- AdminStudio Virtual Desktop Assessment: Calling this new offering "an essential migration tool," Flexera says it accelerates migration to user-centric computing and VDI environments, while cutting the costs of meeting desktop virtualization objectives. The product is customizable, enabling users to tailor the assessment to their unique environments.

Veeam Software -- Veeam Management Pack (MP) 10-pack: This gratis offering is a System Center 2012 monitoring solution for VMware that is aimed at new Veeam MP customers. Capabilities include the protection of investments in Systems Center, unified physical and virtual infrastructures from one console, and savings accrued from not needing additional monitoring frameworks.

Doyenz -- Spring 12 release: This interation includes the new rCloud Agent for VMware vSphere and platform-wide enhancements. Targeted at SMBs, the Doyenz rCloud Agent for vSphere enables customers to restore their environments in 15 minutes or less, providing access to applications and data in the event of on-premise failure.

SunGard Availability Services -- Enterprise Cloud Services Portfolio: Low-key but longlasting Sungard Availability Services updates its cloud package with a new Managed Workflow feature that builds on the company's IaaS capabilities by helping customers toproactively cut back the risk and exposure associated with making system changes to live cloud environments.

DynamicOps -- Hyper-V and System Center integration: With this new product, customers can exploit both past and future investments in System Center while taking advantage of "robust automation" to simplify the provisioning and ongoing management of Hyper-V implementations. In summation, the release declares it is now easy for enterprises to create scalable, user-aware, cost-effective, private clouds.

Liquidware Labs -- Financial report (sort of): And finally, a tip of the hat to Liquidware Labs, which has a lot of smart people, claims it doubled Q1 year-over-year revenues, and says that during March, it struck more deals than in any other month in its history. They do everything but tell you how much money they made, but we'll take their word for it.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 04/20/2012 at 12:48 PM5 comments

MokaFive Liberates iPad, iPhone Users from Rogue Status

When it came to managing virtual desktops, MokaFive is one of those companies that seemed to have an edge on competition right from the beginning. They remind me a bit of Parallels, which, like MokaFive, has driven the acceptance of Macs in the workplace. They also fit in with companies like Unidesk -- with its desktop layering technology -- and Wanova -- which offers a layered image foundation.

In its latest announcement, MokaFive says that its MokaFive for iOS software unifies work and personal computing in iPads and iPhones, while securing corporate data, no matter what untimely turn for the worse said data may have taken. Which leads us to the kind of Holy Grail quote we hear more and more often these days: "With this addition, MokaFive offers the only solution that enables companies to manage all of their devices -- from Macs to iPads and iPones -- from a single console."

In making this announcement, MokaFive says they have broken through the numero uno barrier to the deployment of iOS devices in the enterprise, namely the security of business data. Mobility-wise, MokaFive for iOS enables employees to seamlessly roam from desktop to laptop to iPad, while accessing the same files securely from each via its intuitive iPad user experience. Result: Key docs and info are accessed by users as they wind their ways through another business day. The bonus is, they can view docs both online and offline.

MokaFive picked a canned quote from John Odden, principal of managed service provider My Direct HISP, who originally uttered words that were massaged into "Our healthcare clients are very excited to be able to use their iPads and iPhones to securely access protected health information offline or over WiFi and 4G wireless networks, and stay in HIPAA compliance." Canned or not, the man makes a point.

MokaFive for iOS is immediately available for download from the Apple App Store, while the companion MokaFive Management Server for IT is available from MokaFive.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 04/17/2012 at 12:48 PM5 comments

Hotlink SuperVISOR 1.5 for VMware to the Rescue

In recognition of the fact that multi-hypervisor environments are becoming increasingly common, HotLink unveiled HotLink SuperVISOR for VMware 1.5, which provides advanced vCenter features, including live migration of cross-platform workloads via vMotion for Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This move provides users with vCenter capabilities across their virtual environments using their existing VMware management console.

HotLink founder and CEO Lynn LeBlanc views v1.5 as something of a rescue mission for users who are feeling locked in to more costly VMware vSphere systems, even though, for example, Hyper-V is equally functional in some environments. According to her, "This product gives end users the most choice when mapping the right workload to the right technologies. It is a huge windfall for users."

The Snapshot Manager capability of v1.5 enables admins to create, use and manage cross-platform snapshots witnin the vCenter console, while the Template Manager capability enables users to create and deploy a single template across all target hypervisors, which eliminates the excessive time and effort required to build and maintain platform-specific virtual machine templates.

HotLink SuperVISOR 1.5 for VMware is currently available with a starting price of $25,000 (perpetual) or $6,000 (annual subscription).

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 04/16/2012 at 12:48 PM5 comments

Seeking Business Redemption in the Cloud

Karl Wirth was a man on a mission -- except it was the wrong mission.

Back in September 2010, the co-founder and CEO of Apptegic had a "good" idea for a systems and application-management product based on monitoring and configuring IT environments. That good idea seemed to get even better when Wirth and his co-founder/CTO Greg Hinkle got a couple of big-name companies to sign up as beta customers.

Before long, however, the good idea went bad when Wirth started getting negative feedback from potential users.

"They all liked it and found it very interesting, but they weren't feeling enough pain to move things aside and work with a two-person startup to do something," Wirth comments. "One of the barriers that we found was that in order [for them] to get the benefits we were providing, they had to replace too much of what they were already doing. A couple of companies that were starting from scratch were willing to work with us, but if you had anything in place, it was too much to replace."

Starting over was extremely difficult but they weren't ready to quit. They put their heads down, got back to work, and brainstormed themselves into a "great" idea that tapped into the explosive growth of data on demand via a "customer engagement analytics" product, which enables IT and business people at services providers to see how customers are using the services providers' online applications.

Specifically, the product makes it possible to observe how frequently customers are using those applications, and the patterns they develop. That's important knowledge for services providers to have when customers are so notoriously fickle.

"If you're an online service, if you're a [Software as a Service] business, where your business is really your application, and your interaction with your customers is in that application, then understanding how engaged that user or customer is with your application is key to your whole business," Wirth explains.

The money Wirth made in his second job as a consultant during the product development period paid the bills ,and an angel investor put up enough to pay Hinkle's salary while he coded. But a growing company is always hungry for more money, and the first angel came up with other angels to maintain the young company's gradual, incremental momentum. They may be angels, but they're not philanthropists, and they want their money back -- preferably many times over. In the case of Apptegic, angel investments will be converted into equity.

Wirth offers some advice to startups seeking venture funding: "Don't waste your time going out to VCs if all you have is an idea. That might have been the way 10 years ago, but these days they expect you to be much further along. So take your idea, build something, get something running and get some customers using it."

What about ways for entrepreneurs to maintain their sanity during the stressful startup phase? The 40-year-old Wirth,who says he's never worked harder in his life, says being with his wife and kids between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. each night keeps him from getting entirely out of balance. He also devotes "a good chunk of Sundays" to his family.

Apptegic's flagship product is currently in private beta, where Wirth has been honing it based on feedback from a passionate group of customers. He plans to launch this spring.

Bottom line: Wirth, who had previous stints with Red Hat and RSA, is a self-confessed startup junkie who won't be entirely happy until he produces something that he can call his own. "I love being on this super-high-ramp learning curve. We're on the cutting edge of so many different things."

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 04/11/2012 at 12:48 PM5 comments

X-IO Hyper ISE Blows the Doors Off Benchmark Tests

X-IO has a reputation for producing state-of-the-art storage products, and the star of the bunch is its Intelligent Storage Elements (ISE) and architecture, which is a tightly integrated storage environment, purpose-built to maximize performance and reliability.

As X-IO CTO Steve Sicola told me a while back, "We get four times the I/0, we get 1,000 times the reliability over the same group of drives, and we get five nines reliability."

X-IO is currently touting the performance of ISE in several recent benchmark tests, in which it has reportedly delivered record-breaking price/performance, unlimited scalability and failsafe availability for enterprise-level apps. In addition to powering unmatched results in tests involving Microsoft SQL Server, ISE-2 and Hyper ISE storage systems offer solutions for Microsoft VDI, virtual server infrastructure and data systems.

Microsoft has given its over-the-top, definitely non-canned blessing to the X-IO claims. According to David Hayes, Senior Director of the Microsoft Partner Solutions Center (MPSC), "MPSC hardware-testing projects are designed to put maximum stress on systems so that customers can have the utmost confidence in deploying them in support of business-critical functions. In such a demanding context, X-IO Hyper ISE performed beyond our wildest expectations. Hyper ISE performed better than any other storage system we've tested over the last three years. We were driving the servers to the max, but we were barely putting a dent in the Hyper ISE performance. It seems like the more we throw at it, the faster it gets. X-IO has become one of my top-tier solutions."

Recent benchmark tests support this enthusiastic assertion. According to X-IO, in a joint test with the Redknee telecom application and Microsoft SQL Server, X-IO's Intelligent Storage delivered 24x the price/performance of the company's previous storage solution. Another benchmark test involving Temenos Group AG's banking software running on SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, found Hyper ISE enabling 300 percent more transactions per minute than is possible with a pure SAN solution.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 04/09/2012 at 12:48 PM1 comments

Malware: Virtualized, Defeated, Disgraced

Invincea is a company with a simple idea that it likes to write about with dashing prose.

For example, in his blog, founder and CEO Anup Ghosh refers to 2011 as "the bloodiest year on record for Internet security," adding, "We've allowed ourselves to fall victim to a lost decade in innovation and have become mired in what we call the security insanity cycle."

Ghosh continues, defiant, to decry the utter ineptitude of the prevention security industry, before concluding the first paragraph of his blog with something of a call to arms, declaring in words redolent of the American revolution, "In other words, the white flag has been raised, the network has been ceded, and instead of keeping the intruder off your network -- you must lower the drawbridge, close your eyes, count to 10 and then try to figure out where they [the prevention security industry] have been hiding."

Suffice to say, the diatribe continues unabated in paragraph two. Ghosh may be verbose, but he has a niftly little anti-malware product dubbed Invincea Browser Protection that takes the most highly targeted application in your network -- the Web browser -- and seamlessly contains it in a fully virtualized environment. Running a VM local to the desktop, the company creates a completely segregated OS in which the Web browser operates, unmolested and immune to the depredations of malware.

In this highly sensitive environment, the very second malicious behavior is identified, its attack is instantly repulsed, an infection alert is sent to the user, and an automatic restoration process is begun. During this process, the tainted virtual environment is summarily sacked, pilloried and discarded, while the software "completely rebuilds from a pristine, gold state." The time from initial alert to complete rebuild is a mere 30 seconds.

Invincea also offers a similarly simple, yet devastatingly effective package that utilizes the same browser-based techniques to protect your users and network against insidious exploits embedded within Office Documents, PDFs, zip files and executables.

These products are as comfortable and effective in the home as they are on the job.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 04/03/2012 at 12:48 PM4 comments

Book Review: Critical VMware Mistakes You Should Avoid

The ambiguous title of this user-friendly book by Larry Loucks is cleverly crafted to pull in the widest possible audience, but muckrakers will be disappointed if they think Critical VMware Mistakes You Should Avoid is about VMware making mistakes. As author and veteran virtualization pro Larry Loucks notes, "This book is all about identifying problem configuration situations on ESX server and helping you avoid common oversights and mistakes regarding ESX configuration."

Loucks know whereof he speaks. He has been in the IT business for 27 years, and is a former VMware Senior Consultant who has specialized in virtualization for the past seven years, which pretty well covers the modern history of this game-changing technology. In his words, "I have seen the same mistakes made over and over as companies attempt to virtualize their environments." Lucky for readers.

After an introduction that addresses the general subject of how not to virtualize your environments, Loucks works his way through eight, easy-to-read chapters that start with the most common approaches to virtualization, and goes on to cover virtual architectures, storage, networking, memory, managing processors, proper P2V migrations and odds and ends.

Along the way, he starts with the basics of topics such as thin provisioning, and then elaborates through the use of clearcut screen shots, mini case study examples, and concise conclusions that pull no punches, e.g. "Some say the solution is thin provisioning alerting you to know when a train is coming. I say stay off the tracks and avoid thin provisioning problems altogether by using thick provisioning."

The "How NOT to" theme rings throughout, as Loucks frequently puts on the brakes to break out helpful, summary lists that bring his topics into perspective. For example, in the chapter on virtual networking, he provides six plain-spoken no-nos, such as "tossing NICs in a server, associate them with a virtual switch and start piling on the functionality." He also throws in the occasional "TECH TIP," just to make sure that the reader does not wander off the chosen path.

Throughout, he starts each chapter with a brief introduction that covers the bare-bones basics. This is exemplified at the beginning of chapter 7, which covers proper P2V Migrations. He starts out by defining the topic, even though most readers will already be at least slightly familiar with it, and then moves on to some pretty deep diving. He never leaves the reader behind, and always uses a conversational tone that enhances and expedites the learning environment. After expounding in detail on a complex situation, he takes the pressure off by making folksy comments like "Don't worry about capacity planning...it'll all work out fine," and "Migrate critical apps and databases 'hot' so we can have fun with data loss, corruption and transactional inconsistency," It's like sitting down with a really good teacher on a one-to-one basis.

Loucks says he hopes the book will come out in an expanded second print run during Q3, 2012.

Critical VMware Mistakes You Should Avoid
By Larry Loucks
111 pages, Brio Press

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 04/02/2012 at 12:48 PM1 comments

Survey Depicts vSphere 5 Usage Stats

VMware just released the results of a TechValidate survey of over 1,200 VMware beta customers and partners. The news, as you might expect, is good.

Good means 70 percent of respondents surveyed have downloaded and deployed vSphere 5 -- which has been available for nearly seven months -- and are taking advantage of its nearly 200 new and enhanced capabilities. Good means 82 percent of those respondents have deployed vSphere 5 to virtualize their business critical workloads and apps.

The survey also found that 92 percent of customers and partners are using vMotion, 87 percent are using High Availability, and 68 percent are employing Storage vMotion.

After waxing enthusiastic about vSphere 5's automation abilities, VMware notes that more than 70 percent of respondents are achieving OpEx savings with the product, and beyond that, 80 percent have upgraded to VMF 5 to take advantage of the file system's increased scalability and performance.

Another 52 percent are using Storage DRS and its ability to automatically manage the placement and balancing of VMs across storage resources. Without being specific, the company further noted that it is seeing a great "uptick" of new storage features, including Storage I/O Control, which "allows customers to configure rules and policies to specify the business priority of each VM, and Profile-Driven Storage, which streamlines storage provisioning and ensures that application services match the available storage."

TechValidate collects, validates and publishes exclusive research data on technology products and services that is sourced directly from 454,881 verified users of those products.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 03/27/2012 at 12:48 PM5 comments

AT&T Offers As-A-Service Clouds

It comes as no surprise that with AT&T, cloud services are all about the network. The company provides a wide range of cloud capabilities, including as-a-service offerings.

As VP, As-a-Service Solutions within AT&T Business Solutions, John P. Potter is charged with developing a cloud-based strategy to "pivot and integrate" AT&T capabilities to solutions that are delivered in an as-a-Service model. He is further responsible for building a partner plan that will attract companies and ISVs to develop on AT&T's platform and distribute in a SaaS model. Just in case he gets bored, he is also charged with transforming the operating model that serves as a basis for how AT&T "presents, transacts and delivers" solutions to a more automated, self-service version.

Like everyone else, he is striving to streamline his organization, which includes 15 functional areas reporting to him. "We're trying to knock down the silo approach and have a more horizontal structure," Potter says.

Not surprisingly, his latest offering, AT&T Synaptic Compute-as-a-Service, was developed for use with VMware's vCloud Datacenter Service, which enables VMware's 350,000 customers to extend their private clouds via AT&T's VPN to take advantage of the advantages associated with using both private and public clouds. AT&T is highlighting these advantages by showcasing the DR efforts of VMware customer Concur, a cloud-based purveyor of travel and expense management solutions that has virtualized some 80 percent of its IT infrastructure with VMware. If Concur's primary network fails, it can fail over to the new AT&T service.

The carrier took a very user-friendly tack with its PaaS offering, AT&T Synaptic Platform-as-a-Service, which debuted last November 15. This service, which is billed as a boon to both non-coders and coders alike, is reportedly a complete, cloud-based development and deployment platform that includes web tools and customizable templates for software development, including "a library of 50 pre-built apps which can be customized or used as-is." The service also includes development tools to mobilize apps, integrated social networking features, and 7x24x365 infrastructure monitoring, management and support. Payment is based on a monthly, per-user fee.

This kind of "easy" PaaS, which is built on LongJump's cloud application platform, may be catching on, based on the quote attributed to IDC Group VP Stephen D. Hendrick who actually names AT&T, as opposed to the more common canned quote that endorses a technology type without mentioning any of its makers.

"Platforms for application development and deployment are usually either highly productive and narrow in scope, or challenging to use but able to address complex activities," reads the Hendricks quote. "Vendors that can provide the best of both worlds, by combining comprehensive enterprise class application capabilities, simplified management and lifecycle support, and a secure, reliable network will find success in the market. AT&T seems well positioned to address these emerging Platform-as-a-Service needs."

Potter's group also offers AT&T Synaptic Storage-as-a-Service, which provides elastic capacity on demand. Via the EMC Atmos web services API, application developers can enable a customized commodity storage system over the Internet or AT&T VPN. API Keys are used for customer authentication and to direct customer data to their containers. The API Keys are provided within customer profiles in the Web Management Portal.

In addition, Potter noted that AT&T offers AT&T Medical Imaging and Information Management, which enables customers to scale their image archive infrastructures in highly secure, high-available operating environments. The system utilizes AT&T's Synaptic Storage-as-a-Service offering in combination with a universal clinical platform from Acuo Technologies. Acuo's technology provides access to medical images from disparate picture archive systems.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 03/26/2012 at 12:48 PM1 comments

All Aboard the Cloud Computing Gravy Train

Somehow, amidst all the sturm und drang of the cloud cacophony, the impact of cloud on the IT job market has not been a notable topic of discussion, but according to hyperbolic claims made by a new SAP America-sponsored study, cloud is not only a powerful catalyst for job creation, but also has greater potential for employment growth than the Internet did back in its salad days.

The study, entitled "Job Growth in the Forecast: How Cloud Computing is generating New Business Opportunities and Fueling Job Growth in the United States," cites "numerous trends and indicators" (I counted 27 references to market research firms, trade publications and think tanks) to support its claims, noting, for instance, that 11 cloud computing companies added some 80,000 jobs in the U.S. during 2010, and the employment growth rates at these organizations was nearly five times higher than that of the over-all high-tech sector.

The study, which was conducted by the Sand Hill Group, goes on to say that companies selling cloud services "are projected to grow revenues by an average of $20 billion per year for the next five years, which has the potential to generate as many as 472,000 jobs in the U.S. and abroad. Venture capital investments in cloud opportunities are projected to be $30 billion in the next five years, which could add another 213,000 jobs in the U.S."

Even happier -- if highly debateable -- news: The economic impact for companies buying cloud services can be even more significant, as cloud computing could save U.S. businesses as much as $626 billion over five years, much of which could be reinvested to create new business opportunities and additional jobs. Ah yes, the vaunted trickled-down school of economics.

Not surprisingly, the study cites three familiar "megatrends" behind the growth of cloud services and employment: the explosion of mobile devices and communications, the trend toward social networking, and the growth of "Big Data."

It all sounds good -- and highly subjective. I’d sure like to be running one of those cloud services companies that will be growing revenues by $20 billion per year for the next five years.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 03/21/2012 at 12:48 PM4 comments

Nice Guys Finish Rich

What is it about grandiose financial success that makes some high-tech entrepreneurs so seemingly well-grounded? You'd think that guys like Unidesk president and CEO Don Bulens and NexGen founder John Spiers, who were major players in companies that sold for ungodly amounts of money (Bulens: EqualLogic, $1.4 billion, Spiers: LeftHand Networks $350 million) would be self-absorbed narcissists with sociopathic leanings. Not the case; they are both nice, unpretentious guys with whom conversation comes easily.

Ditto Flow Corporation founder Eric Alterman, a serial startup specialist who has founded multiple companies, including Mesh Networks, which he sold for the tidy sum of $250 million. Alterman is a polished speaker and a soft seller who describes the many virtues of his latest firm, Flow Corporation, without lapsing into the bland, marketing speak that plagues so many salespeople.

Flow is all about PaaS, but not in the same fashion as Force.com or Azure. In fact, Flow's new Flow Platform -- which also redacts information in real-time on a highly permissioned basis -- works in conjunction with those Salesforce.com and Microsoft PaaS products. What the Flow Platform does is simplify the development of real-time applications while enabling stream-processing, data routing and information interoperability between mobile, Web and enterprise apps.

As Alterman puts it, Azure and Force.com act as hosts, while Flow lives a layer up. "We're the routing system," Alterman declares. "We're the cloud-based communications bus that filters and processes. If you have data silos, they are riveted to a single app. You need to manhandle that data and route it where it needs to go. Real-time routing displaces the need to have a big data storing process. We can help if you create real-time apps or do heavy processing to correlate information from Tweeter to your product management system."

For enterprise customers, the Flow Platform provides the ability to integrate data, e.g. sales leads, job candidates, product information, inventory updates, from any internal or external data source into an extensible, real-time workflow. The data is then pushed to the right people and applications in real-time.

For media companies, the Flow Platform and SaaS offerings were created to address the stream processing and interoperability challenges related to content management. According to the company, "Flow provides media and news editors the ability to mix content streams in a real-time content management solution from any number of internal and external sources, using both automatic and ad-hoc-drag-and-drop content curation tools to dynamically populate mobile and web experiences.

Alterman says Flow has no business staff because the Flow Platform is totally self-serve. "We direct you to our platform and how to use it. I don't care how big your environment is, we can solve your problems."

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 03/16/2012 at 12:48 PM1 comments

Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 Debuts

XenDesktop is a big and potent package that features hosted shared desktops, VDI desktops, streamed desktops, client virtualization, and application delivery all on one XenDesktop Platinum SKU for $350 per user or device. It's hard to overestimate the competitive and financial importance of this product, which brings in a huge percentage of Citrix's revenue, so the latest version, XenDesktop 5.6, certainly bears a brief examination. Highlights include integrated personalization from the 2011 Ringcube acquisition, and integration with the upcoming release of Microsoft System Center 2012. Another highlight: There is no price hike with v5.6.

RingCube's vDesk software -- which is now fully integrated into Citrix Desktop Studio, Desktop Director and Citrix Provisioning Services -- caters to the quest for optimized user experiences and enhanced personalization performance by slashing desktop virtualization implementation costs. It does this by enabling IT to supply a range of users with flexible, personalized, and persistent virtual desktops while benefiting from cost-effective, pooled, virtual desktops. Citrix Personal vDisk 5.5 stores a single copy of Windows centrally, and combines it with a personal vDisk for each employee's personal apps, data and settings.

The Microsoft System Center 2012-ready capability integrates XenDesktop and System Center, which is not only technically valuable but also important on a corporate level because it shines a light on the ongoing Citrix-Microsoft relationship, which primarily resides under the covers. System Center 2012 has been the beneficiary of much hype because SCOM 2012 comes with enhanced cross-platform monitoring as well as deep network monitoring. This version also brings high availability and application monitoring along with vastly improved dashboards and Java Server monitoring.

In an inevitable bow to the wireless device revolution, XenDesktop On-demand apps, a.k.a. XenApp, has been enhanced to dynamically transform an app's user interface to take advantage of native user interface features of smartphones, tablets and other devices via Citrix Receiver, which is client software that enables users to remotely access desktops and apps. As Citrix puts it, "Now, your existing Windows applications can adapt to the way users interact with applications on smaller devices."

Citrix has recently been celebrating its CloudGateway product, which comes in Enterprise and Express editions. Version 5.6 features the Express version, which is only slightly less fully featured, but this "next-generation storefront technology" fits the consumerization model by aggregating and centrally delivering virtual apps and desktops that provide users with an "intuitive, single-point-of-access and self service to all their business apps on any device, anywhere." It also provides a seamless upgrade to CloudGateway Enterprise, extending the unified app store beyond Windows apps and desktops to web, SaaS and mobile apps and data.

Finally, v5.6 is topped off with an enhanced XenClient 2.1, which now features Windows Dynamic Layering, a single, base image management technology that provides an easier, more reliable way of managing updates on XenClient devices, and includes new multi-lingual support in German, French, Spanish, Japanese and Simplified Chinese languages.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 03/13/2012 at 12:48 PM2 comments

3 New Virtualization, Cloud Products To Consider

I get so many press releases describing interesting products that I become frustrated because I can't write about them all. With that in mind, I present -- in very condensed form -- three noteworthy new debuts that came my way in the past week.

Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac: Parallels is an interesting company with solid technology that seems to operate under the covers. Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac is an updated version designed to provide experimental support for Windows 8 Consumer Preview, including simple download and automatic installation of Windows 8 via the Parallels New Virtual Machine Wizard. The update also adds experimental support for OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview as both a host and guest. Users can safely try Windows 8 Consumer Preview and OS X Mountain Lion in Parallel's Desktop 7 VMs to protect their Macs from potential mishaps or corruption of important files that can occur with previous versions of software.

Arkeia Software vmOneStep: This virtual appliance is a turn-key backup solution for VMware hypervisors packaged as a simple-to-install, single virtual machine, ready for deployment on any VMware vSphere, ESXi or ESX hypervisor. It auto-discovers, auto-includes, and auto-protects all VMs across multiple hypervisors in a single backup schedule. As an all-in-one, agentless backup solution for the entire organization. The vmOneStep virtual appliance supports not just VMware, but also Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer.

Dome9 Lite Cloud: Here's a free cloud security service that provides centralized firewall management for an unlimited number of servers and clouds in virtual, private, cloud, co-located and hosted environments. The service offers GUI-based firewall management for an unlimited number of Windows and Linux servers and clouds. It also makes it simple to scale security to any sized infrastructure and ensure cloud server firewalls are not misconfigured or left unmanaged and exposed to brute force attacks and exploit vulnerabilities.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 03/12/2012 at 12:48 PM6 comments