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Fall 2010 SNW Recap Part I

We just wrapped up Storage Networking World Fall 2010, and while I am packing to get ready to go to SNW Europe to speak on "The Storage Challenges Caused By Desktop Virtualization" It makes sense to review what we are seeing as emerging or maturing trends in storage for 2011.
We just wrapped up Storage Networking World Fall 2010, and while I am packing to get ready to go to SNW Europe to speak on "The Storage Challenges Caused By Desktop Virtualization" It makes sense to review what we are seeing as emerging or maturing trends in storage for 2011.I think the big news is there is really not much that is totally new and there is nothing wrong with that. The storage market as a whole is continuing to mature. Vendors are trying to separate from each other and new vendors are trying to do something better or faster than current vendors. You can check out our SNW briefing recaps for details but at a high level the common themes were cloud storage, convergence, solid state disk, storage solutions for virtualized environments and data protection.

Cloud storage interestingly still causes a lot of confusion. We are going to start a detailed series on this next week but basically there are three or four ways that vendors claim to be in the cloud market and it may mean something different to you depending on how you may want to use the cloud. First you may want to use the cloud. How you want to interact with the cloud, directly or via an application and which part of the cloud that you want to use; compute, storage or both. Second you have the application or gateway vendors who are basically building the onramps. Third you have the physical asset providers, the place where the data is stored and whom you access it through. Finally you have the storage, compute and infrastructure providers that arm the providers. Again, mapping this out will take some work, and we'll work through that in the coming weeks. Despite the confusion, we met with a fair amount of vendors from each of the above categories.

Solid state storage was also getting a lot of attention, although with one exception, not as much from the primary storage vendors. Much of the talk was with the secondary suppliers that augment primary storage solutions making them faster by adding solid state disk intelligence to these existing systems. The one exception is pure solid state disk primary storage systems. These are primary storage solutions built only on solid state disk that provide all of the software services, like snapshots, that the enterprise user expects. While the first issue may be a concern about costs, if you factor in all the savings like elimination of performance tuning, power, cooling and floor space these systems can compete with 15K based storage systems from the major vendors.

Convergence is also maturing, gone is the rush to Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). Most vendors now are talking about strategies that allow for you to purchase a converged network adaptor (CNA) that can start life as a 10GbE network interface card (NIC) then use it as an iSCSI card and then finally as a FCoE card when you are ready. This is a logical approach to a converged fabric. Infrastructure is a slow change out, this step by step approach makes the transition to a converged infrastructure more practical.

In our next entry, we will finish our SNW wrap up with a discussion on storage solutions for virtualized environments and data protection.

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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.