Tuesday, January 31, 2012

WhipTail's SSD addresses bottlenecks beyond HDD capabilities!

Recently, WhipTail, maker of high-performance, cost-effective solid-state storage arrays, landed AMD as a customer, as well as a Series B round of funding. It announced that AMD's System Optimization Engineering Department has replaced 480 15K spinning drives with WhipTail's solid-state storage arrays. The move will help eliminate slow response times associated with traditional storage arrays.

Problem WhipTail solves!
The key question is: How are flash storage arrays changing enterprises?WhipTail addresses this question from the angle, “what problem does WhipTail’s technology solve?” According to Dan Crain, CEO of WhipTail, there is a unique problem in the storage industry right now. Hard disk drives (HDDs) are completely overprovisioned and have outlived their practicality for high performance applications.

Rather than fix the real problem (need for better performance), CIOs keep throwing money into hard disks, which have reached their capacity and cannot compete with the performance levels of solid state drives (SDDs). WhipTail has found a unique way to address the bottlenecks that have evolved beyond HDD capabilities.

WhipTail’s XLR8r (Note: this name will be changing in Q1) is comprised of an array ofSSDs, which are considered the next generation of data storage. Unlike traditional HDDs, the SSDs do not include spinning disks and are built fromfewer parts. Compared to an HDD, the SSD promises incredible increases in performance (nearly 30x faster), a dramatically lower total cost of ownership and an increased durability.

The XLR8r is the world’s first and most widely deployed all-flash enterprise class storage array. It leverages the advantages of SSD to solve three critical issues that face WhipTail’s customer base: performance, endurance and price.

Performance: The XLR8r delivers a read performance of 200,000 I/O per second and a write performance of 250,000 I/O per second, with 0.1 ms latency.

Endurance: Characteristic to SSDs, the XLR8r is inherently more reliable than an HDD because it has no moving parts. To increase the operational longevity of the device, the XLR8r uses wear-leveling technologies that are embedded on the drivers. These technologies evenly distribute data across all of the available storage space during write operations, eliminating the constant re-use of cells in your storage device. The XLR8r has a lifetime greater than seven years.

Price: WhipTail’s product has one of the most attainable prices in terms of investment for IT purchasers. The key to this price is that WhipTail uses multi-level cell (MLC), which is traditionally less expensive than single-level cell (SLC). While less expensive, MLC has historically also been less durable, but WhipTail found a way to extend the life of their MLC, allowing them to sell their product at an extremely attainable price.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

CIOs unfurl newer efficiencies out of IT operations

How can today's CIOs be able to unfurl newer efficiencies out of their respective IT operations? At the same time, how can they, present solutions that can also empower their businesses even as the businesses work toward achieving their organizational goals? The answer perhaps lies in infrastructure optimization!

IT spends are said to be increasing and in line with the overall aim of accelerating a company's business performance. Balance between innovation and maintenance is said to be critical for the effective functioning of IT.

According to Greg Crider, senior director of technology product marketing at Oracle, IT leaders need to embrace an alternative model for optimizing data center performance that eliminates much of the time and cost associated with integrating, tuning, and maintaining complex multi-tiered environments.

“IT leaders need to know that they have choices other than integrating these pieces themselves or paying a service partner to do some of the integration. Oracle, for instance, has thousands of examples of how to squeeze cost and complexity out of IT infrastructures by doing optimization projects at each layer,” he says.

There is typically said to be a huge difference between one, installing a system and, two, having it production ready. Why? Ask any IT manager at any company, in case you do not believe this!

Crider says: “Many organizations just don’t have expertise in every dimension of a complex architecture. So, they have to rely on outside resources or make do with default configurations that don’t take into account everything else that is going on.

“Fortunately, many important business processes are now available as optimized end-to-end solutions based on open standards. Enterprises are beginning to realize that they can deploy customized, secure, high performance applications without taking on all the cost of integration, tuning and maintenance.”

IT leaders also need to embrace an alternative model for optimizing data center performance that eliminates much of the time and cost associated with integrating, tuning, and maintaining complex multi-tiered environments.

Driving a sustainable, future-focused transformation across an IT infrastructure is a layered process that requires the IT leaders to optimize the entire spectrum of their data center hardware and software operations. This includes servers, databases, middleware and business process management software, and so on.

Standardization, virtualization, consolidation, and rock solid cloud orchestration (management) capabilities are necessary steps organizations work on to improve the application lifecycle management process, as per Mike Palmeter, director of product management with Oracle.

“Many companies have started down the virtualization path, and have even consolidated some of the tier 2 and 3 workloads, but many still have yet to best determine how to standardize, what to standardize upon, and how to best manage all these disparate applications and workloads,” he says.

“These are key considerations especially as companies start moving mission critical workloads to a shared infrastructure. Furthermore, availability, data and app mobility, as well as performance become paramount as applications are moved from dedicated silos to a shared infrastructure.”

With the automation components that are inherently part of a properly deployed private cloud, IT administrators can install complex applications, without going through all of the traditional configuration steps. As IT leaders look to get out from under the complexities, the benefits of highly integrated and engineered solutions get strikingly clear.

Monday, January 23, 2012

India to allow imports of low-priced Chinese solar cells? Or, is it beaten?

As per reports on the Internet, the Government of India has said that it has no objections to companies importing low-priced Chinese solar cells, so long as the cells imported meet the prescribed quality standards!

Oh, well! This is yet another blow to the battling group of the domestic manufacturers. A week before, their plea for seeking imposition of import duty on finished solar equipment was rejected!

Is this yet another admission of defeat, this time by the Indian government, at the hands of the hard-working Chinese solar PV manufacturers? Looks like it!

Now, I am not sure what has actually transpired! However, this was very much along the cards and expected! At least, I have seen all of this happen in the Indian telecom and later, electronics industries. Therefore, why should the solar PV industry be any different? Besides, it is a clear indication of the rising might of the Chinese.

Get it clear: as of now, there is no country or manufacturer, that can take the gigantic risks that the Chinese industry is so used to taking, and succeeding, in the long run! Unless the other manufacturers of the world are able to take necessary risks and continue to produce products on par or better than those from China, this story will be repeated, again and again!

Whether the Jawaharlal Nehru-National Solar Mission succeeds in the long run -- that's a major question! However, the fact remains that as of now, there is no country as strong as China, as far as solar PV is concerned, especially in manufacturing.

The Indian government's stance is directly opposite to the USA, which has reportedly taken China to the World Trade Organisation over dumping of solar cells and panels.

In fact, today, the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), supported by more than 150 US employers of more than 11,000 workers, applauded an analysis by Hari Chandra Polavarapu, MD of solar and clean-technology research for brokerage firm Auriga USA, that underscores the importance of holding China accountable to international trade law.

Polavarapu’s target is China’s alleged campaign of underwriting development of massive solar manufacturing capacity – without cultivating a significant domestic market – then wielding exports of artificially low-priced product as a “battering ram” to knock down the US solar manufacturing industry.

Polavarapu contends in a series of research and analysis notes that China’s alleged actions against foreign domestic industries not only distort markets but also sap the power of competition to drive efficiency and innovation. Polavarapu characterizes China as a “state sponsor of predatory capitalism and asymmetric warfare” that “does not help in weeding out inefficient players but poisons the profit pool for everyone.”

What a contrast!

Now, I am not the judge, sitting with any decision! We, as a nation decide what is best for us!

In telecom, there are so many overseas makers, when there was room to cultivate local ones, back in the late 1990s. However, that never happened! In components, we tried our best to 'kill' the few local manufacturers by reducing import duty to zero. In electronics, we never did try to develop any local industry with earnest. Perhaps, the logic was: the presence of strong global players!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Redpine enters M2M market with fully-featured Wi-Fi module

Redpine Signals Inc. has entered the M2M (machine-to-machine) market with its first fully-featured Wi-Fi module. Let's find out what the Wi-Fi module is all about, and specifically, M2M!

According to a Redpine spokesperson, the M2M market is different from the traditional mobile and PC Wi-Fi market – in the sense that it requires ‘self-contained’ hardware and software. Traditional Wi-Fi implementations from other leading vendors who sell into PCs and mobile phones don’t meet this requirement since PCs and Mobile phones are equipped with strong host processors that do a bulk of the Wi-Fi processing.

Redpine is a pioneer in this market and was the first to announce a 802.11n Wi-Fi module, which was self-contained. The 'WiseConnect' module builds upon its Connect-io-n product legacy and provides additional features like Wi-Fi Direct, enterprise security, SEP2.0 and embedded access point. Features supported and other capabilities include:

Self-contained: All hardware including antenna and crystal required for emissions certification (like FCC and IC) are integrated. All software required for Wi-Fi certification (like security supplicant) are included in the module. This makes the process of integrating the WiSeConnect module into an embedded system very easy.

Ultra-low power and high performance 802.11n: Single-stream 802.11n solution. Best-in-class transmit power of 18dBm and receiver sensitivity down to -98dBm, enabling excellent range. With shutdown power of less than 0.01mW, associated mode power of less than 3mW and active operational power of less than 30mW (UART 115K baud), the module enables ultra-low-power wireless battery operated applications.

Wi-Fi Direct: Wi-Fi Direct enables point to point link establishment without the necessity of connecting to an access point. With the prevalence of more and more smartphones and tablet PCs, it is desirable to directly interface the end-machines without going through the hassle of configuring and connecting to the AP (a.k.a bluetooth). Also, Wi-Fi Direct brings in a lot of power-save features that are desirable for the M2M sensor market.

SEP2.0: Integrating a high-energy home appliance or an in-home display or thermostat into the smart grid is made possible through the provision of SEP 2.0 communications in the WiSeConnect module.

Embedded AP: Provides an access-point functionality with limited number of stations (e.g., 8) for usage in embedded applications.

Host interfaces include SDIO, SPI, USB2.0 and Ethernet.

Commenting on the the future of Wi-Fi Direct, the Redpine spokesperson said that it is very bright. In addition, it is useful to note that all future Wi-Fi Alliance certifications like Wi-Fi Display have Wi-Fi Direct as a pre-requisite.

Finally, how is this solution going to benefit enterprises? He added that as an example, many hospitals have existing enterprise Wi-Fi networks used for intranet and Internet access. Wireless enablement of the medical devices has many advantages – for example it allows limited patient mobility while having all vitals streamed wirelessly to the monitors.

Secure streaming of data to and from a medical device to the servers and displays using enterprise security is enabled by embedding WiSeConnect modules into these devices. The advanced security features in WiSeConnect provides this and many other such benefits across multiple enterprises.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Trends to watch @ CES!

CES 2012 is just around the corner! Let us look at some trends.

First, according to Ovum, ultrabooks are shaping up to be a CES 2012 show stopper. It is expected that 20-40 devices will be introduced. Next, there will be more of mobile connecrted devices, which are likely to be more app friendly, have brighter screens and offer intuitive user interfaces. TV manufacturers are expected to demonstrate capabilities of “smart” TVs.

According to Accenture, another big story is likely to be the TV market. The market is challenged by the fact that consumers are planning to buy fewer TVs next year, according to Accenture’s new survey of 10,000 consumers in 10 countries.

Consumers are also watching TV on TV screens less often, and say they are especially disinclined to buy TV sets until prices decline. The battle is on for consumers eyeballs and attention among the multitude of screens such as desktop and laptop PCs, smartphones and tablets. There will be a push to find more innovative ways to make TV content on TV screens more compelling involving cloud and online services.

Accenture also believes ultrabooks will be a big story at CES 2012. This is a promising product category because these are highly powerful yet thin and portable computers. Tablets and smartphone markets are continuing to grow, but the ultrabook market poses a threat to both.

Among the biggies, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd announced the launch of Samsung AdHub, its advertising platform for the Samsung Smart TV platform. Through the newly-announced AdHub service, brands can deliver 3D, video and interactive advertisements into the living room via Samsung’s market-leading Smart TVs. China's Haier Group will display connected televisions and key new design features and introduce the expanded line of audio solutions.

Elsewhere, dbx-tv announced Total Cal, an audio measurement and calibration tool that custom-optimizes sound quality from TVs, regardless of speaker size or price point.

VoiceBox Technologies Inc. has entered into a strategic agreement with Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) USA, Inc. to develop innovative in-car voice products and capabilities. Quantenna Communications will showcase 802.11n MIMO technology optimized for service providers and 802.11ac chipset for retail applications.

Alereon Inc. is demonstrating high-speed wireless connectivity from Android-based smartphones and tablets to integrated wireless monitors/docks as well as HDTVs.

Elsewhere, Mobile500 Alliance unveiled a breakthrough end-to-end solution that will enable its member broadcasters to build new revenue streams through Mobile DTV (MDTV). The goal is to make the solution available to Alliance member companies after beta launch and evaluation in Seattle, USA.

Two Bosch Group companies, Bosch Sensortec and Akustica, will be jointly showcasing their consumer MEMS products. While, Qualcomm Innovation Center Inc. (QuIC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm, is expected to launch the Snapdragon GameCommand application to the Android market on January 10, 2012, the opening day of the CES.

Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) hosts an OMAP4470 processor-based tablet running on a pre-release version of Windows 8 at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, demonstrating how the latest OMAP 4 platform distinctly supports Microsoft's new computing experience, Windows 8, that reimagines Windows.

Sensible Vision, the leading supplier of face authentication software, will demonstrate its face recognition app for iOS and Android mobile devices at the CES 2012 Wall of Apps. FastAccess Anywhere securely replaces passwords with a face to quickly and conveniently log in to apps and web sites on mobile devices.

Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc. (TAEC), will be demonstrating the latest additions to its lineup of flash memory offerings – the TransMemory-EX series of USB flash memory products. The new drives are compliant with the new USB 3.0 standards – known as Super Speed USB. Initial storage capacities include a 32GB model and a 64GB model.

Qualcomm MEMS Technologies Inc. and The Shanghai Nutshell Electronic Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of Shanda Networking Co. Ltd, China's largest interactive digital content provider, announced the first e-reader featuring mirasol display technology, the Bambook Sunflower, to be commercially available in China in the coming weeks.

The latest forecast figures from GfK Digital World, produced in partnership with Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), reveal global spending on consumer technology devices will surpass $1 trillion in 2012 for the first time, increasing by 5 percent over 2011’s figure of $993 billion.

These are just a few trends to watch out for!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

SonicWALL on securing mobile devices!

Welcome to the new year! :) Thanks to Dixita at MutualPR, I had a conversation with Shubhomoy Biswas, country director, SonicWALL India, regarding securing mobile devices.

First, users have come to expect secured access “anytime, anywhere”, whether over 2G or 3G networks or Wi-Fi, for both personal and business tasks. What is SonicWALL's take on this?

Biswas said: "Smartphones and tablets operate in two worlds: they can connect to the corporate network over wireless, or bypass the network entirely using mobile cellular connections. This means they might download malware from the web over 3G/4G, and then disseminate it to the network over the corporate WiFi network.

"Transferring data in and out of the corporate network, smartphones are beyond IT control. At the same time, however, IT needs to provide enterprise workers with secure access to network resources from tablets and smartphones.

"Today’s new workforce believes that their personal technology is better than what they have at work. Sixty-nine percent will use whatever application, device or technology they want, regardless of source or corporate IT policies. Less than half will stick to company-issued devices. This consumerization of IT has particularly affected the business use of smartphones and tablets."