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.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More Fun for You at SNW

After last year, I had pretty low expectations of SNW this year. There was so little new and interesting that it was discouraging. So, going into this year's Expo I have to admit that I had a bad attitude. I am happy to report that I was mistaken and actually found some interesting trends and technology. That is not to say all is rosy. There is still a lot of silliness out there but that is easily balanced by intelligent responses to real problems.

The Most Interesting Announcement

The announcement that caught my attention right away was EMC's acquisition of Avamar. Avamar was an early entry into disk-to-disk backup. What is most interesting about Avamar is their software. The hardware is beside the point. They are leaders in making backup more efficient by only bothering with changed data, called de-duping. They have done a great job with presenting backed up data so that it is easy to find and retrieve.

This fills a significant hole in EMC's lineup. They now have traditional backup (from Legato), CDP, disk-to-disk backup, and remote copy. Pretty much a full spectrum data protection product line. Nice.

Application Specific Storage

There are way too many storage array vendors in the marketplace. They can't all survive. However, there is a nice trend emerging, one that I think may have legs - Application Specific Storage. By this I mean storage systems tailored for specific types of applications. In general, we have taken general purpose arrays and tweaked them for specific purposes. In some cases, some vendors have specialized arrays and software for certain industries such as graphics, media, or the large files typical in oil and gas explorations.

The newest classes of storage are similar in concept - build arrays that fit certain application criteria. This is married to specialized files systems and network operating systems as well as other hardware to make networked storage that is able to meet the performance and management needs of common applications. This is a trend to watch.

Annoying Techspeak

Okay, there are lots of silly acronyms and marketing speak in the computer technology industry. What I really hate is when it is downright misleading. I saw the term "adaptive data protection" tossed on some booths. That attracted me like a moth to a lightbulb of course. Unfortunately, there was nothing adaptive about it. What I found was configurable (read manually configurable) CDP. Aw comeon! Adaptive means that it changes when the environment changes. It does not mean that I can change it when I notice that something is different.

ILM In A Narrow Band

There is much less talk about ILM than last year or even than the year before. What there is now is more focused ILM products. Lots of advanced classification software and search and index engines. This is good. It shows the maturation of the ILM space.

Oh You Pretty Things!

Design has finally come to storage. I don't mean engineering design, functional but unattractive. Instead, design in terms of form and attractiveness. Lets face it, a lot of storage gear is downright ugly. Some of it so ugly that you need to put a paper bag over it before you put it in your data center. Now we have curves and glowing logos. You actually want to look at the stuff.

Gimme Shelter

Yes! More secure products. Software, secure storage, and security appliances. Not only is there critical mass in security products, but more and more security is integrated into other components. Let the black hats penetrate the network and server perimeters. They'll hit the wall with storage.

Give Me Some Relief

And what do IT professionals want? Relief. Relief from regulators and lawyers. Relief from high costs. And relief from the crying and wailing over lost data. They want to keep what they want while ditching what the lawyers want to ditch.

Perhaps this is a sign that things are changing in the storage industry. Innovation still exists and is growing. That's very good news.

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