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2010 Fast Approaching

by Administrator on December 7, 2009

But not before we review the past decade over at  I just filed my column on Storage in the Aughties and sent it off to my editor and a few friends. 

Frankly, I have been a little discouraged over the past decade by what I perceive as a serious abandonment of the goals of open standards based architecture and the rise of proprietariness in storage generally.  As readers of this blog know well, I was less than enthusiastic about Storage Area Networks that aren’t actually networks, the infusion of more and more silly functionality on hardware stovepipe array controllers, SNIA’s gutted idea of storage management standards (gutted by vendors with no vested interest in plug and play operation), hype-for-hire practices of most of the so-called independent analyst community, and the ascendency of mainframe mini-me’s masquerading as fixes to the management complexity and cost of the stovepipe model.  Clouds and Flash SSD are two more ideas that are bothering me right now because of the huge amount of hype that is stifling any real discussion of potentials.

All of this is in the column, which will be on next week, I guess.

One friend who read it sent me this response:

A good summary of a messed up marketplace and a bad decade for the standardization cause. Proprietary solutions guised as open source have made equipment expensive, and required companies to  hire specialists instead of generalists.  Information technology firms are their own worst enemy, and sooner or later they will be overtaken by commodity based solution providers. Whether the cloud companies hasten the arrival of commoditization is an unknown currently.

Often people don’t see the future because they are dealing with the problems of the present.  I am not a visionary, but I see storm clouds on the horizon for proprietary software and appliance manufacturers.  Just as English is conquering the world because of its adaptability as compared with other languages, common Open Source software and hardware  will conquer the Information universe.  Adaptability is the requirement, proprietary is a dead branch of the evolution of IT.

Good insights there, I think.  (Though, I believe that English also proliferated, as did Latin before it, on the point of a spear.)

If I have been a bit quiet of late, it has been mostly because of the tentative state of storage today and the tentative situation confronting too many storage practitioners.  I am doing what I can to point folks toward what jobs exist (honestly, sometimes I feel like Toigo Partners is becoming an employment service), but many who have been pink slipped by their firms are having a heck of a time finding new employment.  At the same time, here is another sitrep sent to me by a friend:

Why are experienced IT pro’s retiring in droves?

Two of some of the smartest, most capable folks we know in the storage management business have had enough. One works for a major telcom and the other for the government. Their reasons seem to be versions of things just get harder then ever to make work, and nobody can agree on what steps to take next or what the direction should be for their IT infrastructures.

We see it every day in our  customers businesses, essentially they  have come to the end of the line for bailing wire, band aids and temporary fixes. The OEM  solutions are more proprietary than ever and don’t work well together.  Documentation is nonexistent and patches are leaking.

Hard times have come to storage.  Sometimes it gets me down.

Then, I remember that there are brilliant innovators out there — each and every one a potential breakthrough to a new sensibility of storage and technology generally.  I’m no Pollyanna, but I am encouraged by the heretics I am encountering in a lot of smaller firms who are working to commoditize what can be commoditized and to organize it better under a new management paradigm.  Given that revenues of large vendors have waned, they lack the teeth to stop the upstarts as they did a few years ago.  That is a good thing.

More later.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

StorMan December 10, 2009 at 3:49 pm

I was “offered” an early retirement package, after 28 yrs with one conpany, and quite frankly, once I got over the ego thing I was actually happy and relieved, for many of the reasons you’ve noted in this blog.
I started as tape jockey, moved to managing m/f storage, and ended with enterprise-wide storage architecting. During this period, senior managment was transformed from people with strong technical backgrounds (‘cos they came up thru the ranks), to people with business degrees whose only focus was each year’s annual results. One result of this, IMO, was a tendency of the new senior management to heavily depend on the PPV Analysts – after all, they were the experts….
Much energy and time was wasted putting into perspective, or outright debunking their “views”, sometimes successfully. In a two cases, I refused to implement certain things my Executives wanted (the Vendor was lobbying a senior executive, who was putting the heat on mine…) I guess someone wanted to ensure there would be no third refusal 🙂

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