Why There's No Snoring in Storage
While it's safe to say there probably aren't many technologies I don't like, I've always had a soft spot for storage. And, yes, there are a few who know I take it seriously enough to "Heart Storage." With that said, one of the benefits of working in the industry for as long as I have, is that you get to meet some interesting people. Jerome Wendt, president and lead analyst at DCIG is one of them. I had a chance to catch up with Jerome recently for a short Q&A on what he's been up to and what he's seen of interest in the industry lately.
Q: For those who feel storage isn’t interesting, there certainly has been a flurry of activity lately. I know you’ve attended a number of the premier events over the past few months. What’s been your overall take?
A: Funny you should ask this question because I was just commenting to someone today that there are some who think those who focus on storage must dwell in the weeds. Yet if you look at some of the multi-billion acquisitions that have occurred over the past few years (3PAR, Data Domain and Isilon are the ones that immediately come to mind) as well as near-billion dollar acquisitions (Compellent, Engenio), the storage “weeds” are not a bad place to reside.
Possibly the biggest change I see in the storage market right now is maturity in the technologies. Auto-tiering is no longer new. Deduplication is no longer new. Thin provisioning is no longer new. Almost all of the storage vendors offer these technologies in one variation or another. So, while vendors may endlessly debate which one is the best, in all likelihood, using the best technology only matters in a smaller number of accounts than storage vendors may like to contemplate.
The acquisitions I just mentioned also may signal that a transition in the storage market is about to occur where server companies like Dell, HP, and potentially even IBM, take storage much more seriously. It is not that they never took storage seriously before. It's just that as more servers get virtualized and storage becomes a bigger piece of the data center sale, they can no longer concede those sales and margins to the likes of EMC and NetApp. I’m sure this in large part explains why Dell and HP recently acquired Compellent and 3PAR respectively, and why EMC’s CEO Joe Tucci said off-handedly at EMC World that the divorce between EMC and Dell is complete.
What will be curious to watch in the months and years to come is, “Can independent storage companies like EMC, NetApp and others thrive now that Dell and HP have strengthened their storage portfolios, and can compete head-on in almost every circumstance against EMC and NetApp?” Will independent storage companies survive? More than likely. Will they thrive? I think the jury is still out on that one.
Q: From your perspective, what have been some of the exciting developments? What do you think end users should be thinking about now, if they haven’t already begun to?
A: One of the most exciting developments is the level of integration that is going on between all components of the data center (storage, software, servers, etc.) so that all of these components can be centrally managed. While this integration may seem rather mundane in the overall scheme of things, as enterprises continue to consolidate and virtualize their data centers, the inability to centrally manage them is becoming very problematic, especially since most organizations are asking their people to do more with less. That only works up to a point before administrators simply lose track of what is going on.
The other technology that I am watching with a high degree of interest is a company that is preparing to come out of stealth mode. While it is a security company, it is developing technology that will only make public IP cloud addresses visible to those who have permission to access it. Anyone else who is snooping or trying to hack it will be automatically denied. While it sounds like a firewall, it differs in an important way in that once an outside IP address touches it, it immediately sends it a packet to authenticate who it is. If it does not respond immediately and correctly, all traffic from that host is denied and it makes the IP address invisible to the host. While it is more complicated than that, it has tremendous ramifications for securely accessing data stored with cloud storage providers while improving network bandwidth to these sites.
Q: I also know you’ve been hard at work on a number of new Buyer’s Guides. What’s the next Buyer’s Guide, and when can we expect to see results?
A: We are working on four Buyer’s Guides right now: the Oracle Backup Software Solutions Buyer’s Guide, The Deduplication Appliance Buyer’s Guide, the Enterprise Scale-out Storage Buyer’s Guide and the updated 2011 Midrange Array Buyer’s Guide. All of these should be coming out in Q3 2011.
Q: What other areas are you looking at for Buyer’s Guides. How can companies participate in the future if interested?
A: The other topics we are looking at for Buyer’s Guides include Physical Tape Libraries, Midrange NAS, Backup Appliances and an updated version of the Virtual Server Backup Software Buyer’s Guide. If interested in participating, they should drop me an email at Jerome.firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact them as we start our research in these areas.
Q: Any summer reading? Anything you want to suggest?
A: I am big Joel Rosenberg fan and just finished reading his latest novel “The Twelfth Imam” even though it came out last fall. Nothing else is immediately on my radar screen, though I am always on the lookout for the latest Vince Flynn novel.