Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The SNW Snore

Well, I just got back from Storage Networking World in Orlando. No, it was not swept away by Hurricane Wilma, though I doubt anyone would have noticed if it had been. Why you may ask? Because it was dull and boring. A big snore.


The expo, where the discerning buyer goes to puruse the latest gizmos and gadgets of the storage world, was about as exciting as staring at a screen saver. You know it's a bad sign when folks are walking around with piles of swag.

Actually the swag was the best part of the expo. Diligent's white paper (a pretty good one by Michael Peterson) on a flash drive was a nice idea. A 64Meg flash drive for free is something worth listening to a corporate pitch for. NEC, which was introducing a tape autoloader (help.. me.. to.. stay.. awake) gave out these neat little Japanese post-it notes with cute monkeys and other strange-looking animals on them. My 9-year old daughter thought they were the best. There were lots of pens and t-shirts too. As Ren and Stimpy would say "Happy. Happy. Joy. Joy."

The actual products were a different story. They came in two types - the-same-ole-stuff and the-stuff-everyone-else-has. In the first category were the usual array of disk arrays, tape libraries and SAN equipment. Not much new there. I can already hear all the vendors screaming that they had lots of new features. Well maybe a couple of new features. Alright, they fixed a couple of bugs. I'm falling asleep just thinking about it.

In the second category were the now millions of CDP, virtual tape, and iSCSI vendors. Don't get me wrong. I like all of these technologies and think them actually useful. But come on! How many startups can IT support, especially when it all looks the same. Exactly the same. Not one of the companies could convince me that they had anything other than a feature that one day the big boys would have for less money. I counted more than ten CDP vendors alone, then got bored and stopped counting. Worse yet, none of these technologies represent real sustainable products. They are features. I doubt I will see most of them next year.


To be honest, I didn't go to many of the sessions. Reading the agenda, there was little to grab my attention. As the Talking Heads said "Same as it ever was." There was a lot of ILM talks this year but they were mostly the same as last year. An awful lot of gabbing about virtualization. When are vendors going to realize that that dog won't hunt. IT wants it as a free feature they can use when they need it. After something like six or seven years, you would think it would be by now. It's like paying extra for RAID. Same goes for encryption and compression. But I digress...

Special Thanks

Special thanks to the brilliant minds that decided to roll out the Haagen Daz ice cream carts just as a bunch of sessions were starting - mine included. It looked like a food drop at a disaster site. Attendees basically ran for the carts like they held their last great hope of a meal for a long time to come.

Needless to say not many people attended the sessions after that. Instead, they sat around like a herd of lions after a particularly good wildebeest. This persisted into the next sessions. I've never seen that before. True thanks to those who put aside the urge to gorge themselves on ice cream and actually did what their companies paid them to do - sit in a session and learn something.

So as not to appear to be too much of a crumudgeon about SNW I'll mention something very good about it. The real value was in meeting people. Usually these conferences/trade shows/extended commercials are so crazy that you never get to have a decent conversation. Not true here. With the talks generally boring and the expo dull, people had lots of time to sit and talk business, politics, and technology. Great stuff!