Demo stuff for IT organizations

Note: Video presentations of the products mentioned below, as well as most other presentations from Demo, are available here. Blogger won’t accept the embedded videos and I don’t have time to mess with it.

As an event that brims with streaming video and eye-catching GUIs, Demo has never been the ideal venue for IT infrastructure companies. Startups that make servers perform better, for example, or that improve bandwidth utilization have an impossible task matching the slickness of their consumer-oriented neighbors.

Nevertheless, I saw some noteworthy innovations at Demo that should interest corporate computing departments.

Fusion-io – For sheer “Wow!” factor, Fusion-io’s ioMemory and ioDrive were hard to beat. The company claims to have squeezed the capacity and power of a storage area network onto a single PCI-Express card. The product it plans to release at the end of this year packs 640GB of non-volatile storage into a card that fits in the palm of your hand. It uses the same memory technology that’s embedded in Apple’s iPod Nano. Some people believe that breed of flash memory will eventually replace disk drives altogether.

The performance claims by this company are astounding. Fusion-io says it can improve storage performance by up to 100 times with better reliability because the product has no moving parts. At an estimated cost of around $20,000, the product will no doubt be the most costly expansion card ever produced, but Fusion-io says it will be far cheaper than the storage area networks it replaces.

CEO Rick White says a fully loaded SAN costs about $80 per gigabyte, while his product will come in at about $30 per gigabyte. That’s because there is no need for the racks, power supplies, controllers, air conditioning supply and floor space that conventional SANs need. Multiple cards can be placed in the same box and RAID-style striping can be employed for data integrity and redundancy.

The show guide said Fusion-io’s products “may prove to be among the most important products ever to launch a Demo.” If the company’s claims are true, that’s probably not an overstatement.

Solid ICE – This on-demand virtual environment from Qumranet combines the best features of virtualization and thin-client terminal services. Users can have multiple virtual machines running on their desktop, all hosted and served from the data center. IT organizations can fluidly scale of the power and resources provided to each user, and desktops can be customized and saved for access from any location. Users can even install software into their virtual machines, as if they were local computers.

Talari Networks – One of the few areas of IT infrastructure that has yet to succumb to Moore‘s Law is wide area network services. Enterprises continue to lease frame relay, multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) and other pricey dedicated network services from carriers because they’re afraid to take chances on the public Internet.

Talari claims to have come up with a way to adapt routing patterns to variations in the network and achieve frame relay-like reliability at a fraction of the cost. It layers in some secure data delivery and packet engineering to achieve reliability of more than 99.95%. Talari says is can deliver between 30 and 100 times the bandwidth per dollar and eliminate the need for frame relay or MPLS services in many cases.

The company’s web site is still two pages deep, so it may be awhile before its claims can be verified.

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