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GestaltIT Tech Field Day – Day 2: Ocarina, Nirvanix and Data Robotics

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Day 2 of the Tech Field Day kicked off with a trip to Ocarina Networks. For those who don’t know (a) Ocarina offer a “data reduction” appliance (b) an ocarina is a small oval, china flute. I say data reduction as the Ocarina appliance uses a variety of methods for reducing data size, including compression and de-duplication. The main presenters for Ocarina were Carter George and the CTO Goutham (Gou) Rao. Rather than deliver death by PowerPoint, Gou chose to whiteboard his entire session, getting into some significant depth on the theory behind data reduction techniques. The whiteboard approach was very informative  and popular with the delegates, generating lots of conversation.

Next up was Nirvanix. Nirvanix are a “cloud storage” company, operating in the same space as Amazon S3. After providing an overview of the company, Peter Pistek provided details of CloudNAS 2.0 a software offering which enables a Linux or Windows server to act as a NAS device, storing the data directly in Nirvanix’s cloud. This is a product I’ve reviewed in the past and previously I’ve not been favourable towards it. Expect to see my review of the 2.0 version in the near future.

Day 2 lunch was provided by W Curtis Preston and was followed by “Mr Backup” taking us through his new venture – Truth In IT, a paid-for community portal to assist clients in evaluating storage products (initially backup).

The afternoon was taken up by a trip to Data Robotics, creators of the Drobo storage device. This session was probably my most anticipated of the week and I wasn’t let down. It was superb – for a number of reasons. Firstly, CEO Geoff Barrall took us through the product in more depth, answering some of the questions I’ve always had around the way Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology operates. This will become a post in its own right, expect to read it over the coming week.

The Field Day delegates then split into groups for a practical session, followed by a questionnaire, the winners of which would receive a Drobo each. The winners were; Team #1 – me, Rod, Devang and Simon! Now I have two Drobo devices for my data.

The most anticipated part of the Drobo session was the unveiling of two new Drobo products. Details are under embargo until November 23rd, however I can say the new devices will fill out the Drobo range very nicely. Expect a post on this as the embargo date is reached.

Day 2 wrapped up with dinner at a local italian restaurant and signalled the start of delegate’s long trips home.

In summary, the first Gestalt IT Tech Field Day has been a great success. The presenters have been open with their product information, keen to discuss details and helped to provide a lot of insight into their thinking and strategies. Fortunately, no-one fell into the “marketing slideware” trap. Expect to see posts over the coming weeks and days that delve into some of the details we’ve seen over the last two days. As a group we’ve covered a huge number of topics to even attempt to put into a single post.

Congratulations to Stephen Foskett for setting the event up. A great deal of thanks also need to go to Claire Chaplais and Sunshine Mugrabi, without whom the event wouldn’t have happened. One final thought; where and when will Tech Field Day 2 be?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33818355@N07/sets/72157622693448519/

Disclaimer/Disclosure: The sponsors and presenters of the Gestalt IT Tech Field Day event have only paid for my accommodation and travel expenses in San Jose during this trip. I am not employed or paid by any of the sponsors/presenters to express my views. I have received a Drobo storage device as part of the competition held at Data Robotics during the Field Day.  I also received a nice Drobo body warmer & T-Shirt and a T-Shirt from 3Par, plus a number of assorted USB memory sticks.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
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