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Movin’ on up… SAN switching to DevOps automation, workload generation to application performance monitoring

March 31, 2016 Leave a comment

I’m reminded of the Jeffersons theme song “movin’ on up” as I read the latest news in the technology world.  Every vendor appears to be  moving on up and wants a bigger piece of the proverbial pie.   SAN switching vendor Brocade aims to move up into automation of DevOps by acquiring StackStorm, workflow generator vendor LoadDynamix merges with application performance monitoring vendor Virtual Instruments..  These developments are a sign that vendors are not content to stick to their niche but  keen to expand into new areas and deliver additional value.cat in the hat

Brocade has managed a steady $2.25Billion in annual revenues as of 2015.  However jaded storage analysts looked at these earnings with a “okay but where are the growth prospects?”.. Brocade demonstrates out-of-the-box thinking by moving beyond its comfort zone of Fibre Channel and Ethernet switching into DevOps automation and orchestration – a world previously dominated by products like Puppet, Chef, Ansible.  From what I hear configuration mgmt. tools like Puppet and Chef work at a node level, they execute code against a node, updated state information is then sent to an upstream device like a Chef server or PuppetDB , then other nodes converge with updated data.  These multiple steps result in added latency. StackStorm acts as an uber orchestrator by orchestrating runs of automation tools like Chef or Puppet on different nodes.  It should come as no surprise that while numerous customers downloaded and used the open-source tool from StackStorm only a few like Target, Netflix and MasterCard paid for the enterprise version.  The pressure to show revenue from paying customers might have caused StackStorm to take Brocade up on its offer of a buy-out. With Brocade thinking out of the box Cisco won’t be content to remain a mere investor in PuppetLabs but might take a more serious interest in being the single pane of glass for orchestration and automation.

On a different note, LoadDynamix is a vendor with an appliance that generates network load and can be used to model workflows.  An IT dept. can use it to make an objective comparison of multiple storage solutions to identify the one that best meets their needs. A storage vendor could also use LoadDynamix products to emulate the effect of mount storms from NFS clients.   On the other side of the spectrum, Virtual Instruments is a vendor that targeted a niche untapped by SAN vendors – namely troubleshooting latency exhibited by applications running in virtual environments.  They do this  by capturing and monitoring application flows all the way from multiple hypervisors down to the storage.   Since both vendors have non-overlapping technology offerings there is scope for innovation after they merge.  This should cause Cisco and Brocade to take notice..

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: DevOps, Orchestration