Is the new Netapp the old IBM?

When you hang out with car salesmen you start thinking station wagons are cool…

When you think station wagons are cool, you watch the big screen through your windshield…

And when you watch the big screen through your windshield, you watch educational movies about mainframe computers

And when you watch educational films about mainframes you get lost in mainframeland…..

And when you get lost in mainframeland you start seeing Netapp filers….


And when you start seeing Netapp filers, you take a trip through a wormhole…


And when you travel through a vortex you become a supernova baby…

Don’t become a supernova baby.

Who will be left behind after the next big shift?

Two recent blog posts got me thinking about the future of our industry and how people, not technology, will be at the center of this change.

What is in store for storage?

The first post by Steve Duplessie, The Next Generation of IT Folk – They Don’t Care What Your Grandpa Did,  predicts the attitudes of next generation IT workers towards technology. Growing up as Facebook users, these workers won’t accept the non-disclosure engagement model that has prevailed for decades. He suggests that they will turn to socially sophisticated companies that engage customers with social tools that bring much more depth to the vendor/customer relationship.

The other post by Martin Glassborrow (StorageBod), Storage People Are Different,  describes the entrenched attitudes of storage professionals who have historically protected their organization’s intellectual assets by tightly controlling access to data, including cold, archived data.  Writing about the need to change the situation, he observes: “…the infrastructures that we have in place today are not architected to allow this to happen and the storage teams do not have processes and procedures to allow this to happen.” He concludes that information stakeholders, storage professionals and vendors need to collaborate to create new technologies and practices.

So the conundrum in these two blog posts are that new information workers will expect more access to more information and that the storage industry is not very well-positioned to intersect those expectations. As Martin points out, infrastructures are very difficult to change, especially as they increase in size and storage infrastructures continue to grow at alarming rates.  But it’s not just the infrastructure that must change, but the people running it too. If they don’t they will be pushed out of the way by newcomers. Utopian “Big Data” solutions that are based on data access through specialized centrally controlled systems are not the answer. The change will definitely involve “big” and “data” but will challenge the assumptions and beliefs of the people who brought our technology to its current state. If Steve is correct there will be no choice in the matter – companies will evolve or die.



Miss Fist on Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin

Miss Fist talks about New York Knicks basketball sensation Jeremy Lin.

Here’s what everybody knows about Jeremy Lin by now:

  • He was overlooked by colleges as a high school senior at Palo Alto High School even though he was the star of a team that lost only one game all season and won the California state title.
  • He was overlooked by the NBA after a remarkable career at Harvard where he was a finalist for the prestigious Bob Cousy award.
  • He was cut by two NBA teams this year, before being picked up by the Knicks.
  • He has been a winner his whole career and plays his best against the toughest competition.

Speed excites, but how about cool, tight storage?

In 2011, Fusion-io disrupted the enterprise storage industry with their high-performance PCIe flash memory cards. EMC responded this week announcing its own VFCache product.  Suddenly there is a hotly contested race and  it’s up to the rest of the industry to respond.

I love going fast on bikes and skis, but fast is a relative thing. There are always people who will go a lot faster than me, but I don’t need to keep up with them to be happy. The same is true for driving – I drive a 4-cylinder Ford Fusion because I love Sync and I don’t care if it’s not fast.

Cold will be hot

The “good enough for me” principle works for storage too. Most companies have a lot of data that doesn’t need high performance I/O. Server flash products address the hottest data a company has, but what about all the “cool” or “cold” data that is infrequently or never accessed? It typically occupies storage systems that were built to compete based on performance. Even the lowest-performing tiers of most enterprise storage systems significantly over-serve customers by providing service levels far beyond what is needed.  At some point another industry disruption will occur as new products emerge that significantly reduce the cost of storing cool data.

A difficult problem for storage administrators is that there is no way to separate cool data that will be accessed again in the future from cold data that will never be accessed again. One approach is to archive cool data to tape, but the delays and difficulties in locating and restoring cool data when it reheats are not all that comforting. Another approach is to send cool data to an online cloud storage tier provided by enterprise vendors such as Microsoft, Amazon, Rackspace, AT&T, and HP. Cool data in the cloud that reheats is transparently moved back to a local, warmer tier until it cools off again. Data stored in a cloud tier does not require the power, cooling and footprint overhead of data stored in the corporate data center storage and it also reduces the cost and impact of storage system end-of-life events.

"Tight" storage looks good

But cloud storage tiers are not the whole answer. Customers will want to ensure that cool/cold data doesn’t consume any unnecessary storage capacity.  Cloud storage products that incorporate the various forms of data reduction technologies such as thin provisioning, deduplication and compression will provide the “tightest” fit for this data by running at capacity utilizations that are unheard of with primary enterprise storage today. In addition to saving customers on storage costs, these products will also increase the return on investment by saving customers on bandwidth and transaction costs that some cloud service providers charge.  Keeping a tight grip on storage expenses will become synonymous with using the tightest, most efficient cloud-integrated storage systems.




Introducing the Miss Fist Show: You should always try to win

Miss Fist watched the Super Bowl yesterday and decided that the Patriots did not try hard enough to win.  In fact, she seems convinced the Patriots were trying to lose.  Here is the first installment of the Miss Fist show:

A conference room with a view


This is the view out one of our conference rooms at StorSimple HQ. It’s only appropriate that a cloud technology company should have an elevated perch, and we do, so maybe this will be the start of cloud-cam.