Today I ventured from Executive Edge into Technical Edge and the Managed Service Provider (MSP) Summit.
At Technical Edge, I checked in on two of the hotter subject areas. One was VMware data protection and the other was active-active data centers.
- In so many cases, years ago when pockets of VMware began to spring up in datacenters, IT teams weren’t yet well coordinated around this new idea of server virtualization. So, along with pockets of VMware came pockets of tactical recovery tools. Today, VMware is mainstream to the business and IT managers are reducing risk by turning to more dependable, serious data protection techniques. The standing-room-only attendance in this session was testament to the client interest in IBM’s Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments (TSM for VE) and its close cousin IBM FlashCopy Manager (FCM). Earlier this year, IBM released version 6.4 of TSM for VE, a data protection tool deeply integrated with VMware vStorage API for Data Protection and administered through VMware vCenter. IBM has taken these standard integration points and added its own efficiency spin with snapshots and its unique incremental forever data storage approach giving VMware administrators what they want (seamless VMware operation) and storage administrators what they want (hyper efficiency in cost). Check out my post VMware backup for the iPOD generation for more information. FCM, the close cousin, takes the integration one step further by adding snapshot assist from both physical IBM or NetApp hardware as well as from the Storwize family software-defined storage layer. In the latter case, because it’s software-defined storage, the snapshot assist works regardless of what physical storage clients happen to choose.
- One of the more interesting use cases bubbling up in software-defined environments is the active-active datacenter. Because the virtual resources in a software-defined environment are not tied down to a physical piece of equipment, they are mobile. The first evolution was to move resources around in a single datacenter – virtual machines moving from one physical server to another and virtual storage moving from one physical array (or tier or vendor) to another. The active-active datacenter takes the notion of virtual mobility one step further giving the ability to duplicate of move a virtual resource from one physical infrastructure to another at distance. In the case of the Storwize family software-defined storage layer, this capability is referred to as the stretched-cluster configuration using the IBM SAN Volume Controller engine. This session was discussing the use of stretched-cluster with VMware vMotion, IBM PowerVM Live Partition Mobility, and Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) to transparently move workloads and their associated storage between active-active datacenters up to 300km apart. IBM has already helped upwards of 300 customers implement active-active datacenters with software-defined stretched-cluster configurations and judging from the interest at Edge, the number is going to grow quickly.
Over in the MSP Summit the conversation was much less technical in nature. Hundreds of existing and emerging MSP’s were gathered to talk about trends and business models. Some observations that captured my attention:
- The traditional value-added reseller (VAR) business is evolving. Their traditional small and medium business (SMB) customers are being pressured by their boards and CEO’s to do more with less. As they strive to meet those requirements, SMBs are some of the early adopters who look to service contracts with trusted partners as a replacement for buying and operating their own infrastructure.
- IBM is actively orchestrating connections between independent software vendors (ISVs) and service providers through its PartnerWorld. It used to be that the connections IBM focused on were within a geographical area shared by ISV’s and a certain set of VARs. Today, driven by cloud, the connections can reach over the horizon.
- One example is in the area of cloud backup services. FrontSafe is an MSP in Denmark. They have used the cloud delivery model to offer backup services based on IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) to thousands of SMB customers in their country, including more than 2000 dentist offices. They are also an ISV who offers their portal software to other MSP’s helping them build cloud backup service businesses. Working with IBM, FrontSafe has now connected with MSPs in 14 countries. Companies like iSanity in South Africa and Cobalt Iron in the United States have now joined FrontSafe in an ever widening group of MSP’s who are successfully reaching new customers with TSM-based cloud backup services.
Looking forward to day 4 of Edge!