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Storage Networking World ends on a high

Nov 06, 20033 mins
Data Center

* Notes from Storage Networking World, Orlando

The semiannual Storage Networking World meetings are over.  Sitting here in the Orlando airport waiting for my plane back to Boston I am trying to figure out what they key takeaways are.  It will take a while to digest, but here – in no particular order – are a few of the most memorable events for me.

Attendance was indeed up again (now at roughly 2,600) with an increased proportion of attendees being end users.   I was a bit optimistic in my previous column – I guessed we were at almost a 50-to-50 mix of vendors and users – but I can confirm the number of users at roughly 700, which is still a pretty hefty number considering SNW has previously been pretty much of a vendor-to-vendor love fest. 

I gave a presentation in the main hall on “Financial Advantages Through the Management and Automation of Business Processes.”  Of the roughly 1,000 attendees, about one third were from the user side of the house.  When the audience was polled on the question of “Will your company buy products that are certified as SMI-S compliant?” 36% planned on doing so within 12 months, and another 35% plan to buy within 24 months.

In a similar vein, Hitachi and AppIQ formalized their plans to work together in a technical alliance, which further enhances the importance of SMI-S when it comes to high-end storage.

All of which points to the increasing importance of the Storage Networking Industry Association’s (SNIA) interoperability testing and compliance programs.  The Interop Lab was crowded throughout, data was being passed back and forth between vendors, and there was a general feeling of “We’ve come a long way, baby.”  It’s not a time for SNIA to rest on its laurels, but users are all going to benefit from the good efforts and substantial investments of the organization and its member vendors.  Well done… now get back to work.

End users made a significant gain in terms of representation within SNIA.  The End User Council has been formalized, with Rick Bauer, CIO for The Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., as the interim chair. I spent some time with Rick discussing the plans he and his team have for the council and I came away with a sense that IT managers may – at last – have found a real sounding board.  More importantly, this may well become their best method for focusing their efforts and influencing the direction in which the vendors will be moving.  

Panasas’s long awaited clustered, object-based Linux storage system was announced and received a very positive reception.  Panasas rolled out ActiveScale Storage Cluster with a bang as it announced its installation of the world’s largest Linux storage system at Los Alamos Labs. ActiveScale is an extremely high performance system (300,000 I/Os per second).  It is currently aimed at servicing large datasets within technical computing environments, but look for it to become available to commercial sites within a year.  

There is still plenty of opportunity for start-ups when it comes to networked storage, and obviously there is still a substantial amount of venture capital available for them.  I had a chance to meet with several of these new companies in Orlando, and I can assure you that the flow of new ideas is alive, well and (sometimes) funded.

To those of you who had a chance to stop by and say hi, thanks.  I enjoyed meeting you and appreciate your comments. 

All in all, most of us seemed to feel that the time at SNW was time well spent.  Now if they could only hold these things in places that are cell phone-friendly…