Looking forward and looking back – Chris Evans – Ep 52

It’s the kind of thing us podcasters like to do this time of year, we like to take a bit of a retrospective view of the previous year as well as a look forward to the new, so not wanting to miss a trick on the Tech Interviews podcast, that’s exactly what we do in this episode.

Chris M EvansTo help me to look forward and look back at the tech industry I’m joined by Analyst Chris Evans (@chrismevans), Chris has over 25 years of varied IT experience, starting his career on mainframes, Chris also successfully built and floated his own dotcom business, started his own consultancy practice and today is a widely read and respected industry analyst and hosts his own (excellent) podcast, Storage Unpacked.

With that background he’s the ideal person to provide some perspective and thoughts on the direction of the tech industry, especially the data and storage elements of it, so that is exactly what I ask him to do.

We take a look at a whole range of topics, we discuss how a move to a more software defined future has not stopped the re-emergence of the importance of hardware, with technologies such as NVMe becoming more prevalent and how the ever-increasing criticality of data and performance is driving this hardware evolution.

Chris also explores some thoughts around the development of hybrid cloud infrastructure and how this is not only driven by the traditional on-prem vendors, but by the big cloud providers, how the likes of Microsoft and AWS are investing increasingly in technology to help their customers simplify the process of moving data into their cloud platforms. (For example Chris references Microsoft’s purchase of Avere Systems, you can read more here).

We also ask why some of the technologies we expected to really take off didn’t, for example why a personal favourite of both myself and Chris, Object Storage, hasn’t quite captured the market as we thought.

We don’t of course just look back, we look at some of the technologies that we expect to be the big bets for CIO’s and IT decision makers in 2018.

We investigate why high performance and scale out file systems, both on-prem and in the cloud, will continue to grow and as we increasingly look at how to keep our data at the edge while taking advantage of cloud computing.

Will NVMe really take off in 2018? we discuss some potential use cases and why, if you are making those tech investment decisions in 2018, NVMe maybe for you.

Of course, we round up with a look at data privacy, no doubt 2018, at least the first half, will be the year of GDPR, Chris gives some thoughts on what technology can help and how the technology industry can be more helpful in the way it approaches this challenging topic.

To find out more from Chris, you can find him on twitter @chrismevans and Linkedin.

His writing and analysis can be found at https://blog.architecting.it/

And if you are interested in storage industry related content, then I strongly recommend Chris’s excellent Storage Unpacked podcast you can listen to that here http://storageunpacked.com/.

Next week, sticking with the theme of data privacy as the topic for 2018, I’m joined by my favourite data privacy guru Sheila Fitzpatrick as we look at the upcoming impact of GDPR, the Myths and the areas you should be focussing on ahead of May 25th.

To ensure you catch that show, why not subscribe, you’ll find the show in all of the usual places.

Thanks for listening and have a great 2018.


Architecting the Future – Ruairi McBride and Jason Benedicic – Ep 51

As we become more data-driven in our organisations and ever more used to the way big public cloud providers deliver our services, it is putting more pressure on internal IT to deliver infrastructure that provides this data focussed, cloud like experience, but where do you start in designing this next-generation of datacentre?

That’s the subject of this week’s podcast, the last of the shows recorded at NetApp Insight in Berlin, where I catch up with two members of a fascinating panel discussion I attended at the event, Ruairi McBride and Jason Benedicic.

082917_1433_ITAvengersP3.jpgRuairi is focussed on partner education for global technology distribution company Arrow ECS and has spent the last 9 months working with partners to help them to understand next-generation datacenters.

You can find Ruairi on twitter @mcbride_ruairi and his blog site ruairimcbride.wordpress.com

Jason is a principal consultant at ANS Group in the UK with a focus on next-082917_1433_ITAvengersP4.jpggeneration datacentres, Jason spends his time designing and implementing next-gen technology for a wide range of customers and with nearly 20 years of industry experience offers great insight and experience.

Catch up with Jason on twitter @jabenedicic and look out for his coming soon blog site www.thedatacentrebrit.co.uk.

Ruairi and Jason were part of a panel hosted by the NetApp A-Team which consisted of people who were not theorists but had practical experience of deploying next-generation technologies and working practices and as I know many listeners to this show are involved in developing their own next-generation strategy, I thought it would make an interesting episode.

We cover a range of topics and begin by looking to define what we mean by next-gen the types of technology and methodologies involved.

We discuss what is driving the move to next-generation datacentres, how public cloud and the move to automated, self-healing, self-service, software defined infrastructure is a major influence and how businesses who wish to maintain a competitive edge and improve the service to their customers and users, need to look at this next generation approach.

We wrap up by looking at how next gen datacenters are not about technology alone and is as much about philosophy and working practice, while Jason and Ruairi share ideas about the type of building blocks you need and the help and support that the technology community can bring as you look to deliver a next generation strategy to your organisation.

Jason and Ruairi provide some excellent insights and tips on developing a next generation datacentre approach if you have questions then please feel free to contact any of us by twitter or via the comments section on the site.

This is the last show of 2017, for all who have listened this year, thanks for your support and Tech Interviews will be back in the new year with a whole host of new interviews exploring a range of technology topics, if you have anything you’d like the show to explore in 2018, then why not drop me a note @techstringy.

To make sure you catch next years shows then why not subscribe in all of the usual places.

Just leaves me to say, enjoy the Christmas holiday season and I’d like to wish you the very best for 2018 and hope you’ll spend some of it listening to Tech Interviews .

For all of you who have enjoyed the show in 2017 – thanks for listening



Scale that NAS – Justin Parisi – Ep 50

There is no doubt that the amount of data we have, manage, control and analyse continues to grow ever more rapidly and much of  this is unstructured data, documents, images, engineering drawings, data that often needs to be stored in one place and be easily accessible.

However, this presents problems, how do you get all of this data in one place when it’s not just TB’s it 100’s of TB’s and made up of billions of files that need to be accessed quickly, how on earth do you build that kind of capacity and deliver the performance you need?

Like any compute problem, there are two ways to scale things, up by adding more capacity to your existing infrastructure or you can scale out, adding not only more capacity but also more compute.

The other week I heard an excellent episode of the Gestalt IT On-Premise podcast where they posed the question “should all storage be scale out?” (find the episode here) and the answer was basically yes and in a world where we have these ever-growing unstructured data repositories scaling out our NAS services makes perfect sense, delivering not only massive capacity in a single repository, but also taking advantage of scaled-out compute to give us the ability to process the billions of transactions that comes with a huge repository.

So for Episode 50 of the Tech Interviews podcast, it seemed apt to celebrate the big five-oh talking about big data storage.

112117_0834_Theheartoft1.jpgTo discuss this evolution of NAS storage I’m joined by a returning guest, fresh from episode 48 (The heart of the data fabric), Justin Parisi to discuss NetApp’s approach to this challenge, FlexGroups.

We start the episode by discussing what a FlexGroup is and importantly why you may want to use them and why it’s about more than just capacity, as we discuss the performance benefits of spreading our single storage volume across multiple controllers and look at those all important use cases from archives to design and automation.

We explore the importance of simplification, while our need to manage ever-increasing amounts of data continues to grow, the resources available to do it are ever more stretched, so we look at how NetApp has made sure that the complexity of scale-out NAS is hidden away from the user by presenting a simple, intuitive and quick to deploy technology that allows users to have the capacity without the need to rearchitect or relearn their existing solutions.

We wrap up by looking at some of NetApp’s future plans for this technology, including how it may become the standard deployment volume, simplification of migration and other uses such as VMware datastores.

FlexGroups is a really smart technology designed to simply address this ever-growing capacity and performance problem encountered by our traditional approach to file services and if you are looking at scale-out NAS for your file services, it’s a technology well worth reviewing.

For some very informative FlexGroup blogs visit NetApp Newsroom.

There is also a selection of NetApp Technical Documents around the subject, check out TR’s 4557, 4571 and 4616.

You can also hear more from Justin and the Tech ONTAP podcast team discussing FlexGroups here in episode 46.

And finally, you can contact the FlexGroup team via email at flexgroups-info@netapp.com

If you want to find out more about Justin and the work he does in this area you can check out his excellent website https://whyistheinternetbroken.wordpress.com/ and follow him on Twitter @nfsdudeabides.

Next week It’s the last show of the year as I’m joined by Jason Benedicic and Ruairi Mcbride to discuss the future of datacentre architecture as we talk next-gen technologies.

To catch that show why not subscribe in any of the usual podcast places.

Hope you enjoyed Episode 50 – here’s to the next 50!

Thanks for listening.

Hyper Converged Now and Next – Troy Mangum – Ep49

The IT industry is full of new trends, some you get, some you don’t, one such trend, that until recently I didn’t really get, was Hyper-Converged, a new market, with a message of simplification and dominated initially by new technology players, like Nutanix and Simplivity (now part of HPE) and they have been pretty successful, so why have I not gotten onboard?

A good test with any new technology is does it solve a problem or improve the way I currently do things? Up to now with Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) I’m not sure it really does, is it helping me build a more automated, flexible, agile IT infrastructure? Is it helping me build a hybrid environment? Is it automating my IT environment so that my business gets the agility it wants? Not sure.

What HCI does do well is simplify your hardware infrastructure, takes something that may have been installed in a full rack and squeezes it down into 2 or 4U in a single chassis, with compute and storage integrated together and a scaling model which allows you to attach another HCI box and scale your compute and storage again.

But is that enough? When I’ve worked with organisations considering HCI, the cost of this model tends to be inline (if not more expensive) with buying the individual components and installing them yourselves and unless those accounts have been looking to refresh compute and storage at the same time, the value has been hard to find.

What’s changed my view? The starting point is nothing to do with changes to the HCI hardware model or addition of some great new feature, it’s actually and maybe not surprisingly driven by software, look at what Microsoft and VMware are doing for example, VMware is delivering an increasingly more software-defined infrastructure with every incremental release of their virtualisation stack.

Microsoft’s Azurestack, although limited currently, aims to bring a fully software-defined Azure like experience onto your local hardware and of course solutions from both of these companies are increasingly hybrid focussed, VMware on AWS and of course Azure both integrated tightly into these on-prem stacks.

This simplification of the software stack is now starting to drive the need for a hardware stack that matches this simplification and can take advantage of these software-defined infrastructure solutions.

It is this changing environment that is the focus of this latest podcast.

At the recent NetApp Insight conference, I met with Troy Mangum who shared some research he’s been working on reviewing the HCI market, how it stands today and the changes HCI  vendors need to make to ensure they build on the early success of first-generation solutions to deliver a platform to meet the needs of the modern data centre and take advantage of these software-defined infrastructure stacks.

We explore a range of discussion points from the research, we look at the drivers behind the adoption of HCI, the need for simplification and easier consumption of IT resources. We also discuss how the current technical design of HCI hardware architectures may limit their ability to grow in the way we need them to.

Troy shares how currently HCI comes with a risk of introducing infrastructure silo’s into our datacentres, focussed on solving individual problems and not the flexibility the modern data centre needs, we also explore the phenomenon of HCI tax, what this is and why it’s a problem.

Finally we take a look at the future, how architectural changes are driving a new breed of HCI architecture, a second generation, allowing a more flexible deployment model, decoupling the component parts so HCI can scale capacity and compute separately, which then begs the question, is this new breed of HCI really HCI at all and does it really matter? And of course, we look at NetApp’s entry into this market.

To find out more on this topic and what NetApp are doing you can find lots of HCI information on NetApp’s website here.

You can also find out more from Troy by following him on Twitter @cloudreveler

Next week we look at very large data repositories, as I’m joined by returning guest Justin Parisi to discuss the concept of Flexgroups.

To ensure you catch that show, you can subscribe to Tech Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud and all good homes of podcasts.

Thanks for listening.

The heart of the data fabric – Justin Parisi – Ep48

I’ve discussed in a number of blog posts, as well as previous episodes of Tech Interviews, the importance of building a data strategy, a strategy that will allow you to architect and deploy a platform to tackle modern data management challenges.

The term “Data Fabric” is an increasingly common way of describing such a strategy, this was something I first heard 3 years ago at NetApp’s annual technical conference Insight, as they introduced their ideas for building a strategy that would start to move them from a storage company to a data management company.

This shift is also in line with what I see in the many businesses I work with, the move from just storing data to using it as something that will enable them to become more data focussed and data-driven organisations.

When NetApp first discussed this three years ago, they where a very different company, accused of living in the past, a traditional storage dinosaur with no place in this modern world, where new storage companies and the ever-growing influence of cloud would destroy a company focussed on selling hardware and of course their operating system Data ONTAP.

But NetApp have changed, today they are moving headlong into a data management future, focussed on allowing their customers to build infrastructures to store data in the most appropriate location at the right time and allowing them to easily move, manage, secure and protect that data, regardless of whether it’s on-prem, a virtual appliance or based in the cloud.

Surely then, as NetApp continue to change, their beloved ONTAP operating system can’t still play a key part in building a data fabric.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and that is the focus of this episode, as I’m joined by Justin Parisi, Senior Technical Marketing Engineer at NetApp and the host of NetApp’s Tech ONTAP podcast.

In this episode, we explore why ONTAP is anything but a legacy bit of technology and how not only is it still relevant, it is right at the core of NetApp’s data fabric future.

We look at the fact that ONTAP is a piece of software and although tied to hardware initially that reliance has gone, allowing ONTAP to be a versatile platform that can be installed on specific hardware, your own hardware or not on hardware at all, installed as a service within a public hyperscale cloud.

We discuss how ONTAP is not about storage but is much more focussed on data services, such as security, protection, efficiency and performance.

This ability to deploy ONTAP anywhere also allows us to ensure we can transfer not only our data easily between locations but also our policies and procedures can easily move with it.

We wrap up looking at some of the features in the latest version of ONTAP and how continuous improvements ensure ONTAP remains at the heart of NetApp’s data fabric strategy and can play a part in yours.

To find out more about ONTAP visit NetApp’s website

You can follow Justin on twitter @NFSDudeAbides

And hear the excellent Tech ONTAP podcast right here – https://soundcloud.com/techontap_podcast

Next week we look at the development of the hyper-converged market, where it is today and how it needs to change, as I discuss some interesting HCI research with Troy Mangum.

To catch that episode why not subscribe, you’ll find Tech Interviews in all the usual podcast places.

Thanks for listening.

Tech Interviews the Keynote Round Up – NetApp Insight 2017 Day Three

One of the main components of any tech conference is the keynote sessions, these are the sessions that share the vision, set the context for the show and a good keynote is a vital part of creating the right atmosphere for those attending.

What I wanted to do with these special shows was to try and grab some of the immediate reaction from those attending the events and the keynote presentations that come with them.

Our first set of keynote reviews come from NetApp Insight 2017 in Berlin, getting the very latest in the data management field.

As we come toward the end of the conference, day three provided us with the final general sessions including a fascinating insight into rocket science as Adam Steltzner, part of the Mars Rover landing team, shared the part data played in their work.

082917_1433_ITAvengersP2.jpgJoining me in this final review from Insight is Jon Woan (@jonwoan)jon woan and Mick Kehoe (@mickehoe) providing their views on this session and as it was the final day, they also share their thoughts on what they’d heard throughout the conference, how it met their expectations and where NetApp covering the kind of things that they felt relevant.

Enjoy this last review from NetApp Insight and look out for upcoming reviews from other tech conferences in the future, as well as new episodes of Tech Interviews.

Don’t miss the round ups from day’s one and two, you’ll find them here.

Tech Interviews the Keynote Round Up – NetApp Insight 2017 Day One

Tech Interviews the Keynote Round Up – NetApp Insight 2017 Day Two


Tech Interviews the Keynote Round Up – NetApp Insight 2017 Day Two

One of the main components of any tech conference is the keynote sessions, these are the sessions that share the vision, set the context for the show and a good keynote is a vital part of creating the right atmosphere for those attending.

What I wanted to do with these special shows was to try and grab some of the immediate reaction from those attending the events and the keynote presentations that come with them.

Our first set of keynote reviews come from NetApp Insight 2017 in Berlin, getting the very latest in the data management field.

We heard views about Monday’s keynote yesterday (you can find that here Tech Interviews the Keynote Round Up – NetApp Insight 2017 Day One) What did Day two have for us?

scott gelbThis time I’m joined by Scott Gelb (@scottygelb) and Adam BerghAdam Bergh (@ajbergh) to get their views as we discuss the announcements of new platforms such as HCI and the fascinating move to cloud services including a unique arrangement with Microsoft Azure.

Don’t miss the round-ups from days one and three, you can find them here;

Tech Interviews the Keynote Round Up – NetApp Insight 2017 Day One

Tech Interviews the Keynote Round Up – NetApp Insight 2017 Day Three


Tech Interviews the Keynote Round Up – NetApp Insight 2017 Day One

One of the main components of any tech conference is the keynote sessions, these are the sessions that share the vision, set the context for the show and a good keynote is a vital part of creating the right atmosphere for those attending.

What I wanted to do with these special shows was to try and grab some of the immediate reaction from those attending the events and the keynote presentations that come with them.

For these first shows, I’m at NetApp’s Insight conference in Berlin, where we expect four days full of the latest in what the data management industry are doing and hearing how data continues to be a focus for transformation for many of us.

With that in mind, what did Monday’s keynote session deliver?



To find out, straight from the keynote I caught up with Jason Benedicic (@jabenedicic), Atanas Prezhdarov Atanas(@prezblahblah) and Mark Carlton (@mcarlton1983) to get their views on the key messages from the keynote and what they expected from the rest of the event.

mark carlton new twitterDon’t miss the round-ups from day two and three you can find them here;

Tech Interviews the Keynote Round Up – NetApp Insight 2017 Day Two

Tech Interviews the Keynote Round Up – NetApp Insight 2017 Day Three


Webcache, webcache, what on earth’s a webcache? – Francesco Giarletta – Ep47

As part of my role as a Technical Director, one of my tasks is to attend events and hear from the community about the challenges they have and to hear from tech vendors about how they are fixing them.

However, every now and again one of the things that happens is someone presents something that introduces me to a whole new challenge that I’d never considered.

That happened at a recent User group event, run by the excellent folk over at TechUG. On this occasion, they were joined by Francesco Giarletta of Avanite to discuss the mysterious world of the webcache and the vast array of web data that lives within it!

He shared how this cache, alongside the amount of web tracking data that is dropped down onto your systems via web browsing (regardless of browser), can have significant and unexpected consequences.

avanite logo wideSo it seemed only fair to ask Francesco to come onto the show and introduce you all to this often unconsidered world.

In this episode, we look at the problem of webdata, the kind of information that websites collect about us, the unknown amount of data that they drop onto our machines, from cookies to the tracking information that Windows keeps about our web whereabouts.

We look at the impact of this tracking on both system performance and maybe more importantly security.

Francesco shares some of the security impacts and how they can potentially expose us to the risk of breach, from the storing of unencrypted user credentials, to how this data that we don’t fully understand can expose us to regulatory infringement.

Finally, we share some ideas on how you can start to deal with the problem and how Avanite maybe able to help.

To find out more about the work Avanite do and the risks of storing unmanaged and uncontrolled web data on your machine you can visit their website www.avanite.com and follow them on twitter @Avanite_Ltd .

Next week I head off to NetApp Insight in Berlin, so no new show, but look out for a series of shows focussed on data and data management as I catch up with a host of industry leaders at the Insight conference.

To make sure you catch future episodes, why not subscribe and if you have any questions, contact me on twitter @techstringy.

If you are going to NetApp Insight why not come and find me, I’m hosting some sessions as well in charge of the Pop-up Tech Talks mic, come say Hi and have a chat.


Keeping your data incognito – Harry Keen – Ep 45

Sharing our data is an important part of our day to day activities, be that for analysis, collaboration or system development, we need to be able to share data sets.

However, this need to share has to be balanced with our needs to maintain the security of our data assets.

I saw a great example of this recently with a company who were convinced they were suffering a data breach and having data leak to their competitors. They investigated all the areas you’d expect, data going out via email, been uploaded to sites that it shouldn’t, or been copied to external devices and leaving the company. None of this investigation seemed to identify any areas of leak.

They then discovered that they had a team of developers who, in order to carry out their dev and test work, where given copies of the full production database, so not only given all of the organisations sensitive data, but they had full and unencumbered administrative access to it.

Now, I’m not saying the developers where at the centre of the leak, however you can see the dilemma, for the business to function and develop, the software teams needed access to real data that represented actual working sets, but too provide that, the business was exposing itself to a real data security threat.

How do we address that problem and allow our data to be useful for analysis, collaboration and development, while keeping it secure and the information contained safe and private?

One answer is data anonymization and that is the subject of this week’s show, as I’m joined by Harry Keen, CEO and founder of anon.ai an innovative new company looking to address many of the challenges that come with data anonymization.

In our wide-ranging discussion, we explore the part anonymization plays in compliance and protection and why the difficulty of current techniques means that we often poorly anonymize data, or we are not even bothering.

We explore why anonymization is so difficult and how solutions that can automate and simplify the process will make this important addition to our data security toolkit, more accessible to us all.

Anonymization plays an important part in allowing us to maintain the value of our data as a usable and flexible asset while maintaining its privacy and our compliance with ever-tightening regulation.

Harry provides some great insights into the challenge and some of the ways to address it.

To find out more on this topic, check out the following resources;

The UK Anonymization Network (UKAN)

The UK Information Commissioner (ICO)

And of course you can find out more about anon.ai here

You can follow Harry on twitter @harry_keen18 and anon.ai @anon_dot_ai

You can contact anon.ai via info@anon.ai

Hopefully, that’s given you some background into the challenges of data anonymization and how you can start to address them, allowing you to continue to extract value from your data while maintaining its privacy.

Next week I’m joined by Ian Moore as we take a Blockchain 101, to ensure you catch that episode why not subscribe to the show? you can find us in all the usual podcast homes.

Until next time, thanks for listening.