What I like about the exercise is that it's a good temperature-taking of where the big vendors fall short, and where customers are willing to pony up (sometimes big bucks) for a highly specific feature. And unlike 20 years ago, acquisitions largely have replaced any kind of medium or long-term R&D among the big guys. So these kinds of lists often spell out the players in future M&A dramas.
Some interesting standouts among the mix -- a PCIe-based card that boosts server memory and capacity by as much as a 100 times. Survivable data also emerged as a thread among the startups, with ruggedized storage devices that can withstand wind, water, plate tectonics, or Dick Cheney's withering stare. A gypsum-encased USB drive to keep your data intact at temperatures of 1700 degrees? It may be just the thing for getting through summer if global warming theorists are on track.
There's also plenty of add-ons for virtualized server access and storage deployment. Crafty Reldata has found a way to provide back-end capacity for other vendors' arrays -- potentially breaking the logjam over Tier 1 vendors whose storage virtualization products have languished due to cost and complexity. And Xisgo is doing some cool things with virtualized I/O that others are just starting to talk about.
The feature is as good a gauge to the nature of the deals and product breakthroughs we're likely to see this year. And you don't have to worry about it ruining your 401(k) or spooking your own customers.