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Fujitsu to create a new line of storage appliances

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September 3, 2014

Fujitsu said this morning that it's making another attempt at software-defined storage hardware by announcing that it's going to create a new line of storage appliances that will combine Intel hardware with the Ceph file system.

Fujitsu was for quite some time the only server maker to bother bundling NetApp's Virtual Storage Appliance.

Overall, virtual arrays have become rather more important in the years since, as have object storage and big data, and Fujitsu is now targeting all three markets at the same time.

Everything will be revealed at Intel's Developer Forum next week, but for now, Fujitsu is telling us that Xeon chips will power its forthcoming storage nodes targeting big data applications.

The software-based distributed storage (SBDS) system will provide new levels of scalability, flexibility and agility, Fujitsu says.

Fujitsu is currently working with Intel to integrate Virtual Storage Manager into the system for Ceph cluster management.

The Ceph system Fujitsu is using is its file system variant, which the project says provides a POSIX-compliant interface to its underlying object storage system for “virtually unlimited” storage.

And since Ceph is also part of the OpenStack project, Fujitsu is also hoping its solution will be attractive to OpenStack users. Other target markets will include cloud providers, financial institutions, and streaming users like media and broadcasting companies.

Although customers can always make their own Ceph deployments, Fujitsu is hoping that a pre-pack wrap-up will be more attractive.

Fujitsu isn't the only vendor to think that. Back in April, Red Hat splashed $175 million in the direction of lead developer Inktank as a buy-in to the Ceph ecosystem.

Intel already ships plenty of Xeons to array-makers, to server-makers whose systems are pressed into service as virtual storage arrays and to HPC types.

Unless there's something extraordinary about Fujitsu's designs, there's nothing revolutionary here-- just Intel making sure it can sell into lots of niches.

In other IT news

It's reported this morning that Windows XP lost close to 1 percent of its global market share during August, according to both Netmarketshare and StatCounter.

But the news certainly don't surprise anyone, since Microsoft completely abandoned the monthly security patches (Patch Tuesday) for Windows XP on April 8 of this year.

However, there's not been a corresponding bounce in the prevalence of other Microsoft operating systems, and that's where things get a bit confusing somewhat.

We've been tracking the two OS-counters for eleven months now and during that time Netmarketshare has tracked Windows XP from 31.24 percent to 23.89 percent of detectable PCs online.

To be sure, Statcounter started with a lower number – 21.28 percent – and has charted a slower decline to 14.29 percent.

Both companies show a small bump in Windows 8.1 use. Netmarketshare records it going from 6.56 percent to 7.09 percent while Statcounter records a jump from 7.45 percent to 8.25 percent.

At a guess, the rises could reflect business PC fleet refreshes conducted during the northern summer when staff numbers thin out, and perhaps also some back-to-school PC purchases.

Windows XP seem to have some users in no hurry to move, while Windows 8.1 is slowly taking market share but there are enough Windows 7 buyers out there to keep its market share more-or-less steady even though the overall pool of Windows users increases somewhat.

That simply means that there's a hard core of people, mostly businesses, that Microsoft just can't shift to Windows 8, or even Windows 7 for that matter. And they probably don't realize the security risks of using computers with an outdated and unsupported operating system.

In other IT news

Users of Microsoft's sync 'n' share service say it corrupts Office 2013 files when they attempt to open them with 'OneDrive'.

To be sure, answers.microsoft.com forum threads explain that it's impossible to open some files stored in OneDrive-– Excel files seem especially susceptible, from machines other than the one that created it.

The file loads, but its content is replaced by gibberish and useless hexadecimal codes.

Several reports of the issue started to emerge on August 27th. Only documents created since that date suffer from the problem.

Some users tested the various scenarios reported and found that Windows 8.1 users seem to be the only ones adversely impacted by whatever is going on in Microsoft's cloud.

For now, Windows 7 users appear to be spared the pain, so it remains to be seen where exactly the problem is coming from.

There's no data loss apparent-- documents remain accessible in a variety of ways. One workaround is to sync an OneDrive account with a Windows 7 machine.

The resulting downloads to the Windows 7 PC appear to restore access to the files, at least for now.

Microsoft has yet to formally address the matter, but a tweet from OneDrive program manager Arcadiy Kantor offers some relief.

Posters to the thread say Microsoft has acknowledged the problem, but hasn't advised when a fix will be available, however.

In other IT news

Market research firm IDC says that global server sales continue to increase for the current quarter, which suggests that the long-term outlook for the market appears to be brighter than the previous three quarters.

IDC says that factory revenue in the global server market grew 2.5 percent year over year to US $12.6 billion in the second quarter of 2014.

It's actually the midrange servers that were up 11.6 percent year over year thanks to technology refresh cycles that kicked in.

That cycle has been accelerated by the looming demise of Windows Server 2003, users' desire to get their hands on new Intel chip sets and, lastly, budgets finally allowing replacement of systems acquired after the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

Volume systems (ie: low-end or so-called utility servers) saw vendors book 4.9 percent revenue growth after demand rose for a fifth consecutive quarter.

However, enterprise servers took a 9.8 percent plunge, but IDC explains that the number is not a cause for concern since it's a trickier segment to accurately account for.

But an interesting anomaly in the market concerns servers destined for utilization in hyperscale data centers and those used in more conventional capacities.

But sales of the former are going well, even though the latter server varieties are falling victim to various server consolidation projects in some companies.

There's also some good news for HP, as it emerges as the market's top server vendor. Interestingly, IDC has also popped in a line for “ODM direct” sales, which we take it to be a way of describing sales by the likes of Supermicro and Inspur. At $835 million for the quarter, such vendors are ahead of Cisco and Oracle by sales value.

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IDC notes that sales of 'Power' servers declined sharply year over year in advance of a significant technology refresh,most likely caused by Microsoft's abandonment to continue to support Windows Server 2003.

In other IT news

It's reported that Hybrid array vendor Nimble Storage saw its revenues grow as its rivals were unable to deliver equivalent price/performance products.

Overall, revenues were $53.8 million for its second quarter, an 89 percent increase year-on-year and beating its own guidance of $49 million to $51 million.

There was a net loss of $26.1 million however, 149 percent worse than a year ago, meaning that losses are increasing faster than sales revenue.

Nimble CEO Suresh Vasudevan’s statement was enthusiastic, however-- “We added a record 663 new customers during the quarter, ending with a total of 3,756 customers, an increase of 115 percent from Q2 of 2013. During the last four quarters, we added a total of over 2,000 new customers as we continued to increase our share of the market. We also closed a record number of deals with a value over $100,000 each during Q2, including the largest deal in our history.”

William Blair analyst Jason Ader said Nimble had “continued its land-and-expand success (large enterprise and cloud service provider customer bases up 81 percent and 119 percent year-over-year, respectively).”

All in all, he sums it up like this-- “Overall, in line with commentaries from our reseller contacts, the company appears to be firing on all cylinders as it continues to make inroads against large storage incumbents and disrupt the market at large.“

The company is “on track to achieve the break-even point on a non-GAAP basis by the end of our next fiscal year,” meaning by May 1st, 2016. That means a GAAP profit later in 2016.

Fibre Channel support should be added around January 2015 and this could increase its revenues in larger enterprises.

Ader comments-- “We believe that the addition of Fibre Channel support, the newly released high-end platform, and the general availability of its new scale-out software should expand the company's addressable market beyond the midrange and enable it to continue taking share from vulnerable incumbents.”

Source: Fujitsu.

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