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The Week In Storage: Michael Dell Takes Pay Cut, Micron Tumbles, Back That Data Up

By - Source: Toms IT Pro
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The week in storage began with Dell holding a garage sale to raise funds for its EMC acquisition. Dell spun off its Data Services division to NTT Data for $3.05 billion, which is a good start.

Intel's new E5-2600 v4 family of CPUs spawned a flurry of storage news that included its first 3D NAND and dual-ported NVMe SSDs. Intel's new 3D NANDsters look promising, but the company curiously chose to release the new SSDs as a new spin on an old jam by employing the aging DC P3700 architecture. This may actually hold the 3D NAND back instead of propelling it forward.

EMC is busy bolting Dell servers onto its products while the heartbroken Lenovo is scrambling to recover from the massive loss of EMC's business. Lenovo decided to jump into bed with Nexenta and created a new Open Source-driven Software Defined Storage (OpenSDS) solution to kill the pain (and find a new source of revenue). Hopefully the pairing ends up amounting to more than just a rebound relationship.

HPE became the first server vendor to offer fully supported NVDIMM platforms, which is a welcome sight as the persistent memory ecosystem has been mired in the normal confusion found during early development. HPE also authored the first Windows 2012 R2 driver for its new Micron NVDIMMs, which is a significant step forward. 

We were lucky enough to assemble a massive arsenal of 64 PCIe SSDs to test the FSA 200. We blasted away with 32 Intel DC P3700 and 32 SanDisk Fusion ioMemory PCIe SSDs in our latest product evaluation, the 64 PCIe SSDs, 120TB Of Flash And One Stop Systems FSA 200 Review.

Michael Dell Takes A Pay Cut

Dell's transition to a private company in 2013 hid its performance from prying eyes, but the EMC merger is providing a peek into the financial darkness behind the private-company curtain. Dell's parent company, Denali Holding, recently filed a regulatory SEC disclosure as part of the EMC merger process. 

Billionaire Michael Dell was paid a tidy $13.9 million yearly sum for his services in 2016, but the disclosure reveals his pay crumbled to a base salary of $950,000 and a bonus of $1.42 million in 2016. Surprisingly, all of Dell's subordinates earned more than the head honcho last year from their bonus payouts alone. 

The disclosure does not list exactly why Mr. Dell has taken such a significant haircut since the torturous years of being a public company, but we do know the company is searching the couch cushions so it can pony up enough cash to pay for EMC. However, Michael Dell's $11.5 million pay cut is just a mere drop in the $67 billion bucket.

Perhaps Michael Dell is punishing himself for the company's poor performance. The documents revealed the company lost $1.1 billion on net revenues of $76 billion in 2016, which is slightly better than the $1.2 billion loss in 2015. Dell Computers is certainly not in the best of health, which may give EMC shareholders pause during the looming merger approval vote.

Then again, EMC is also not in the best of health, either. The two companies hope that coming together will cure their combined financial ailments, but Michael Dell will walk away with a $46 million severance package in either case. For the record, Forbes lists Michael Dell's net worth at $22.3 billion, which indicates these are merely token payments.

Micron Reports First Loss In 12 Quarters

Micron's financial results have been declining steadily, and its woes culminated in its first loss in 12 quarters. Micron posted a $97 million net loss in the second quarter, which is a sizable decline ($303 million) in comparison to the net income of $206 million last quarter. Surprisingly, the loss represents a swing of over $1 billion in comparison to last year's second quarter $934 million net income.

Micron is feeling the pressure from the cratering mobile and desktop market, which led to reduced DRAM and NAND demand. The Average Selling Price (ASP) of DRAM declined by 10 percent, and the NAND ASP fell by 15 percent. Micron partially offset the declining NAND ASP with increased shipments, but it still suffered a six percent decline in volume. 

Micron indicated that its saving grace will come from its aggressive 3D MLC and TLC NAND ramp, but the jury is still out on just how 3D NAND will save the day.

The price of a 256GB SSD was $125 last year but has fallen to sub-$85 this year, which is a decline of over 33 percent. Every week we see yet another statistic announcing that SSDs are replacing HDDs at ever-increasing rates, but it does not appear that anyone is making money from it.

There is not enough SSD demand (and apparently too much supply) to sustain healthy margins, and how the addition of cheaper and denser 3D NAND fixes the problem is anyone’s guess. 3D NAND is ostensibly cheaper to produce, but will likely just touch off another price war.

This Week's Storage Factoid

Yesterday was World Backup Day, which was designed specifically to warn users not to be an April Fool by losing their data. I know I am a day late with the news here, but queue the data stickler speech anyway. 

Today's world is easy. We simply point a phone and click to take a photo of a precious moment, such as a child's first steps, or your friend hilariously falling off a roof and breaking both of his legs.

This same simplicity means that it is incredibly easy to lose your precious data. According to Worldbackupday.com (which interestingly requires me to inform you that World Backup Day does not officially support it), there are 113 phones lost or stolen every minute. This sobering statistic does not even account for how many phones are willfully (or accidentally) destroyed every minute. The point is, the chance of data loss is a daily reality.

The best advice is to follow the Backup Rule of Three. This rule states that we should copy all valuable data three times, that it should be on two different types of media (cloud, HDD, SSD, etc.) and include one off-site backup.

The off-site backup portion is important. Years ago, maintaining an off-site backup was a painful ordeal that required swapping drives every few weeks or months, but today, the cloud makes off-site backup simple and easy. The price of bulk cloud data storage is incredibly cheap, so don't be an April Fool; leverage the cloud to keep your data safe.

Paul Alcorn is a Contributing Editor for Tom's IT Pro, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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