Taking control of storage management within the datacentre was a prominent theme at the fourth annual Storage Networking World (SNW) Europe conference, held in Frankfurt from 29 to 31 October.
Co-owned and endorsed by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) the event attracted 1,458 attendees, beating last year’s figures and breaking a record for SNIA. The ratio of delegates (resellers, press and end users) to vendors was also higher than last year, according to SNIA figures.
End users’ biggest concern at this year’s show was the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) which was passed last month. RIPA legislates for using methods of surveillance and information collecting to help the prevention of crime, including terrorism.
Law enforcement agencies can now serve a person or organisation that uses encryption with a notice called a Section 49, which requires them to decode all of the encrypted information requested and present it to the investigating authority.
However, for resellers, this regulation provides lucrative opportunities
because their customers are
now in need of higher storage capacities to allow them to comply with the legislation.
Under RIPA, all customer interactions by an organisation have to be retained and archived for longer periods where they can be easily accessed.
Giving a key note speech on the first day of the show, Andy Monshaw, general manger for storage systems at IBM Systems and Technology Group, asked: “Are businesses really in control? What began as a ripple of data may have grown.
“IT professionals could not keep up with the growth. Data has become a tidal wave and the growth of businesses and new data has brought in new regulations. This changes the way businesses must think about their data,” he said.
“The new Section 49 regulation asks for recalls of data and encryption within a certain time frame or it is deemed a criminal offence. Basically, it is saying ‘give me the (encryption) keys or go to jail’,” added Monshaw.
“That is why companies care about this issue. Businesses are in need of a solution that allows them to understand where their data is when it is published and where and how it will perish.
“If Joe who implemented the systems quits his job and the business receives a Section 49 notice, they are cooked because only Joe knows how to decode and recall the data from storage,” he said.
Monshaw continued by saying that risk can be pooled into four different categories: information security; information integrity; information retention; and information resilience.
He stressed that his biggest concern is keeping the data alive, so it can be accessed at any time necessary, as data storage is at the centre of businesses infrastructure.
“It is much broader than encryption and security, that is the easy bit. Key management and integration of storing the data is the difficult part. It has to ensure that over time the chain of data retains the same integrity as when it began,” he said.
Monshaw continued: “Data needs to be stored on something that cannot be erased, is low cost and can be kept for long periods of time. I believe this is why there has been a resurgence in the industry for tape.”
“It is vital that data is protected from being deleted and modified. It needs to be chronological and event based for easy organisation. The solution is automated tape libraries.”
IBM recently conducted an independent study and found that 70 per cent of financial services do not have the resilience that is needed.
“Businesses must take steps to virtualise their infrastructure and need a strategy in place for risk tolerance,” said Monshaw.
“It is not going to slow down or just go away. Teams will have to embrace and take into account risk management.”
SNIA announced its eXtensible Access Method (XAM) interface application to support datacentres with storage management and to be able to recall data efficiently. The system is capable of 100-year archiving, storage transparency, information retention and ensuring the security of information.
Arnold added: “XAM proposes a standard access method. XAM labels the storage containers on the outside and can be classified and processed from the outside. Fixed content has a long shelf life. Also, XAM is compliant with any other vendor.”
Vincent Franceschini, chairman for SNIA, said: “Digital information is at risk of being lost. XAM is an important evolution for the industry and for SNIA.”
Franceschini added: “Integrated storage is the key to users’ IT infrastructure and XAM is ready for prime time.”
Virtualisation was a hot topic at the show, as usual, and was seen as even more important now that companies are in need of higher storage capacities. The importance of virtual storage was highlighted in most of the presentations, but not all companies seem to be adopting it.
Steve Duplessie, senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group, said: “Companies know that a problem in IT is never solved without a new one being created. They also think that change is the root of all evil - stop the fear and start embracing virtualisation.”
“In storage we are able to ride the successful wave that VMware has created through virtualisation,” said Duplessie.
“EMC now owns 86 per cent of VMware. A rocket ship like that will take the industry by storm,” he added.
He continued to say that vendors should consider taking a leaf out of EMC’s book instead of trying to ‘shoot it in the back’ every time it turns around.
Duplessie said: “The mainframe used to be considered slow and boring. Now everyone is trying to work virtualisation around it. At least with a mainframe you know where the red light is; when something is wrong. In a virtual environment you cannot physically see it.”
“Users do not see all the benefits of IT, only the problems that can arise.
The receptionist does not say ‘Morning, nice networking.’ Instead she comes up,
kicks you in the shin and says ‘email is down again.’
“IT needs to be invisible, in the same way as virtualisation. We are on the threshold of achieving this, but we still have a long way to go.”
The theme of SNW Europe 2007 was Information in Motion, which ran through the Expo floor, the Hands-on Labs and SNIA’s Solution Showcase. Over the three-day event there were 120 conference sessions on offer for delegates, including 30 tutorials run by SNIA.
Juergen Arnold, chairman at SNIA Europe, said: “It was a great event for us this year. SNIA wants to move from focusing purely on the physical aspect of storage to helping unravel the confusion that is apparent for users around what information is required to be archived and for how long. SNIA wants to inform IT professionals on storage as a whole. It is not just about fibre channel, iSCSI or disk drives, it is about the content and educating the partners.”
Vincent Franceschini added: “It is about a specific application being used in
the correct environment
to support the whole system. It is not just a server - it is about the whole network.”
“Providing the best data at the right time and the right place. It is about
storage technologies, but
more importantly how to use them and how to help companies mange their storage. SNIA is about empowering organisations in the management of information, addressing data and the storage of it,” he added.
Other IT players also benefited from this year’s event. Bridget Levingston, European marketing manager for storage networking vendor Emulex, said: “This year’s SNW show was well constructed and well managed, and it attracted a good quality audience.”
Adam Sharp, senior director of marketing for EMEA at enterprise network systems vendor Pillar Data Systems, said: “SNW Europe was bigger and better than ever before this year. It is a key event in the EMEA storage industry calendar and we will be back next year.”
Christine Bachmayer, marketing manager for central Europe at backup recovery vendor Quantum, said: “SNW Europe once again proved to be the [key] platform for the storage industry. We had many interesting discussions with customers and journalists on a very high technical and business level. We were also extremely pleased about the lively interest in our tutorials.”
Woody Hutsell, vice president at vendor Texas Memory Systems, said: “SNW Europe offered us an excellent venue for introducing our newest cached-flash solid state disk, the RamSan 500. We met many users and channel attendees.”
RIPA section 49
*Is in the interests of national security and the prevention or detection of crime.
*It allows law enforcement agencies access to electronic data protected by data or passwords.
*If the requested material is not recalled and decoded, within a reasonable time frame, it is considered an offence.
*In most cases, plain text decoded material is requested instead of a decoding key. However, keys could be required under special circumstances.
*Disaster control and risk management within the datacentre were key issues.
*The importance of embracing virtualisation was also highlighted.
*Consolidating and simplifying data was a topic of concern for end users due to the new Section 49 legislation, but an opportunity for resellers.
*The attendance rate at SNW Europe was a record number for SNIA.
*The event also celebrated SNIA’s 10th anniversary.
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