Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year & Food for Your Brain

I wish all my readers the very best in 2006 and beyond.

Last week, being off from regular daily activities, I had fun writing blog entries. I decided to write this entry while taking time off worrying about forgetting something to pack for travel tomorrow.

This entry will definitely be the last one for 2005 and most likely will not be followed by another entry for few weeks or even more. Before I become MIA, I would like to leave you with some of my thoughts.

  1. Is encryption right solution for "data at rest"? See That Which Was Lost Has Been Found, Waiting for my Marriott Letter.

  2. Will utility (cooling, power, and space) cost become a major component of total operating cost of storage as Petabyte+ storage repositories become norm? See The Price of Performance.

  3. Should all data be archived? See Data Retention Policy: US Lawyers versus UK Lawyers, How long IS permanent?.

  4. Will risk of data loss during RAID rebuild time become major concern with increase in disk capacity?

  5. Will iSCSI vendors finally realize the drawbacks of positioning as cheaper alternative to FC-SAN?

  6. Will RSS become a primary method for technical support and service notifications?

Finally, can somebody please try to bring down the Walled Gardens of Infrastructure? See Google Base + Vertical Search + RSS = Death of Walled Gardens.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Off Topic: Lets cook some Ducks

For the Holidays in San Diego ... got to support my alma mater. ;-)

Update: I can't believe Toronto Cable channels decided to show WWE Smackdown instead of ducks getting cooked. I hope to see it again, this time in person in Eugene in 2006.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Does Blogging belong to Upper Echelon only?

I am having very interesting time since Hu Yoshida commented through The value of Blogging - Feedback on my blog entry about him. I received interesting comments from wide variety of audiences and thank you very much to everyone who took time to comment and send messages.

*** Ignore this section if you don't want to read about me. ***

One of my ex-colleague appropriately commented "stirring the pot again, aren't you?"

Those who know me in any capacity are aware of my tendency to create waves in a calm pool and shake the tree when there is no wind, time to time. Every 12 to 18 months, I like to question what I am doing and what I should be doing. And typically, if I come up with answers, I don't like, I change things just to get myself out of comfort zone.

Actually, I was reading a recent essay, Good and Bad Procrastination by Paul Graham (one guy on my list of people, I like to have lunch with). He summed it up perfectly with following quote which he attributed to a 1986 lecture: You and Your Research by Richard Hamming of Bell Labs. (paraphrasing here)

What's the best thing I could be working on, and why aren't I?

Hopefully this gives the first insight to anonymous who wanted to know about me and my stance. More to come.

*** *** ***

I can appreciate some receiving the insight from Hu Yoshida blog entry, Where should intelligence reside?. Storage vendors are not doing a great job in communicating the technology behind their products. I just can not fathom that an industry that claims to be "ahead of the curve" in meeting customer needs of data storage and distribution is so poor in disbursing data itself.

Blogging is a powerful tool, and if properly used, has the potential to bridge this information gap between storage vendors and its stakeholders. An anonymous reader commented "the data storage conversation in the blogosphere is still pretty small." I wish you could see the quizzical look of WHY on my face … may be I should look in to podcasting to incorporate audio and visual cues! Any partners for podcasting? If you are planning to join storage blogosphere, spend sometime reading different blogs and ask yourself:

What's the best thing I could be writing on in my blog? And start writing, nothing happens until you do something.

And, if you are a CXO and want to tell everyone in your blog how to write scripts to automate storage management tasks for your products, ask yourself: Is a CXO right source for such information? Or should I have someone else involved in blogging too?.

There is a disturbing pattern emerging in corporate storage blogosphere. Most blogs except one, Adaptec, are written by upper echelon of the kingdom. This trend of restricting blogging to upper echelon is a fatal mistake in leveraging the potential of blogging to bridge information gap. Just take a look at Microsoft and its blogging gang that includes from Ray Ozzie, Robert Scoble to its developers. How effectively these people are using blogging to communicate at different levels.

BTW, anyone interested in reading a storage technology blog, must have Adaptec's Storage Advisors in their Feedreader. With few tweaks, it can be an excellent storage technology blog. Kudos to their blog strategist for thinking differently. And if you are interested in reading storage business blog, include NetApp's Dave Hitz (Another guy on my list of people, I like to have lunch with) in your Feedreader.

"One Prediction a Day" desk calendar, anyone?

What's up with everybody's fascination for making predictions for new year? Most of the time they are more wrong than right anyway.

For a long time, people made 10 or fewer predictions but now the trend is to make as many predictions as possible. I guess it sounds better when they proclaim that 24 predictions came true instead of 6.

Here are some well talked people in blogosphere who decided that even Top 10 list of predictions is not long enough. I predict these guys are destined for "One Prediction a Day" desk calendar.

Jason Calacanis, Weblog, made 20 predictions for 2006. Updated Link.

John Battelle, Searchblog made 17 predictions for 2006.

Philipp Lensen, Google Blogoscoped made 15 predictions for 2006.

Did you come across anyone who made too many predictions? Share them with your comments.

Help me collect 365 technology predictions with fewest number of authors.

Well, I also decided to hop on prediction bandwagon but with couple of twists - only one prediction that spans multiple years... Coming soon to a computer screen near you!

Monday, December 26, 2005

SeaGator - A puzzled vision

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and Holiday weekend. I am still puzzled about getting Tide to Go as Christmas gift yesterday… may be I am not seeing the spots others see! Anyway I didn't get my wish, a Tablet PC. Oh! Well, I can't expect everything as gift. But I did get some that money can't buy. Thanks Santa!

For last few days, I have been puzzled by the Seagate acquisition of Maxtor. Well, nothing new, I have been puzzled about lot of things last week. In the media, it has been positioned as cost saving measure and price protection through consolidation.

When a merger between two competitors takes place and the only real benefit put forward is cost saving, To me, this is an admission of declining growth in their market segment or consolidating their positions to prepare against some external threat.

Personally, I like M&A reasons being future revenue growth instead of cost savings. I rather see 1 +1 = 2.2 instead of 1 + 1 = 1.8. And, more and more, SeaGator looks like 1.6.

A Cursory financial look (mind you, I am no accountant or financial analyst) suggests that SeaGator will have to bring in revenues 3 - 10% in excess of combined revenues of Seagate and Maxtor just to pay-off the acquisition in three years time frame. And the proclaimed cost savings are peanuts in the larger financial picture of SeaGator.

I don't expect any of the major customers of disk drives to roll-over and play dead in price negotiations either. And from risk management perspective, these customers are not going to give same business to SeaGator as they did to Seagate and Maxtor separately. In short term, SeaGator loss will be gain for Western Digital, Hitachi and other niche players.

Seagate and Maxtor were primarily playing in 2.5" and 3.5" disk drive market and array/server/desktop storage market. Seagate for Apple iPod and Maxtor for DVRs being their foray in to consumer electronics and mobile devices where both are losing these markets to newcomers and niche players with micro-drives and flash memory.

Storage for mobile devices and consumer electronics is a faster growing market but it seems Seagate and Maxtor couldn't take that quantum leap! So they are taking consolidation route to strengthen their position in existing segment.

But the same benefits that make sense to consolidate for SeaGator will turn SeaGator customers to look in to other options to regain their lost leverage.

In the long-term, this supplier consolidation will result in structural changes to the data storage array segment as it will force this segment to look beyond, re-evaluate their next generation designs and give serious considerations to products from emerging suppliers. In my opinion, major beneficiary of this consolidation will be the niche and emerging players not SeaGator.

I guess Seagate couldn't wait long enough for Santa to give it a better Christmas gift at half the price and with better future revenue growth potential.

If you do, you are damned and if you don't, you are still damned. Isn't being incumbent grand!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Good Guys can be bad, sometime!

Anybody who served in armed forces and fought on behalf of country is a good guy in my books. So Hu Yoshida, you may be voted by me as worst corporate blogger but you are still a good guy.

My criticism was due to the impression your blog entries gave out - Recipe of typical industry white papers:

Half to two-third technology + Rest product = Technology White Paper by a Vendor

My feedback: Let your personality shine in your blog entries, and you have good one according to industry journalists! The blog is as much about you and what is in your head instead of just rowing HDS boat.

Reading Where should intelligence reside? reminded me of a SNIA conference call four years ago, where storage vendors were bickering about virtualization, host vs. storage vs. switch vs. appliance, in-band vs. out-of-band, file vs. block, blah ... blah ... blah.

In last three years, I talked to lot of companies (up and down the food chain) and I have the opinion that in general (exceptions rule sometime):

Sales focuses on what is coming down the pipeline next quarter

Marketing focuses on what is coming down the pipeline next year

Product management focuses on what is coming down the pipeline in two years

C-executive focuses on what may happen in three years and beyond.

So, Mr. Yoshida, I rather read your thoughts about how the Seagate-Maxtor merger changes the market dynamics of data storage industry and your visions of where the industry is heading. Let your marketing people chime on "Where virtualization should reside" and "VMware works better with HDS than EMC storage".

On the topic of Seagate-Maxtor merger, actually I would really like to read thoughts of NetApp's Dave Hitz as he is big fan of Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma and whether he sees it as continuation of established threatened by emerging in disk drive industry.

I am really looking to generate discussion on where storage virtualization should reside. Perhaps you can post your position. Comment by Hu Yoshida

Why would you want to re-hash an issue that has been beaten to death already and most probably better addressed by HDS marketing department by now?

I think anyone, who believes virtualization with in storage infrastructure resides at any one specific location only, should quit smoking whatever they are smoking. In my opinion, storage virtualization is just a cog in larger infrastructure wheel that supports "Information any where, any time, any way" aka Information Virtualization. Anything that resides between information and its users will be virtualized eventually.

He shines some light on aspects of the technology that us journalist types skipped in school. A message by Terry Sweeney, Byte & Switch in response to my blog entry .

Terry, they still don't teach this stuff in school. May be Hu Yoshida should consider encouraging other HDS folks to blog and address such issues and let him address larger picture.

I am familiar with your work and follow your blogs. Comment by Hu Yoshida

Hey, thanks for the comments and reading my blog ... I didn't know I have readers in upper echelon of the kingdom!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Have Title, Let Marketing Will Blog

This morning, I read Terry Sweeney's blog entry Have Title, Will Blog (Side note: It is great to see industry rag getting into blogosphere, but B&S, you picked a lousy blog format).

He wrote:

"Actually, this is a trend I welcome. It gives customers a bit more insight into the culture of their existing or prospective vendors. It's also a chance to step outside the turgidity of press releases … typically stripped of its life and personality …."

I have to question Terry's definition of "stepping outside" because when I read these storage blogs, I get the same 'marketing' feeling that I get while reading White Papers and other marketing materials from storage vendors. It may be me just being Blog Dinosaur (having started writing Web Log in 2003) as mentioned by Bill Bowerman in his Blog comment. Or may be I am reading too much marketing material. I don't mind blogs being used for marketing (See how Riya CEO and VC Investor used blog successfully as marketing strategy) but, in my opinion, some of these storage blogs are too slick to classify as "stepping outside."

In last couple of years, I have seen several storage blogs come alive and die. Somehow, storage people are finding difficult to keep their blogs interesting or maintaining their interest in blogging. Even, time to time, I have been on hiatus too.

Anyway, I created a separate category of Storage Blog Links under my Favorite Blog Links. If you have a storage blog, you would like to have included, write a comment or send a message.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Storage Certification Material

Since I wrote about storage certifications in my previous blog entry "Storage Training, Certification & Large Archive", I received several messages requesting training material for the SNIA certifications. Unfortunately, I am unable to distribute the training course materials, I use in my sessions. It is not fair to course developers and training providers to distribute such material freely without permission.

In my previous blog entry "Training Feedback", I mentioned several resources that will help in preparing for SNIA Storage Networking Foundations exam. The same material can also be used to gain basic knowledge in data storage for people working in other technology area.

Using the SNIA Storage Network Foundations (S10-100) Exam Description (PDF file) as roadmap, I will try to cover some basic aspects of different data storage topics in my future blog entries.

Topic: Basic Storage Technology
Section: Identify Standards Organizations

Some industry organizations active in Data Storage industry that you need to be aware of:

Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA)

An association of producers and consumers of storage networking products whose goal is to further storage networking technology and applications, as listed in SNIA dictionary. Basically, it is an industry trade association formed by data storage vendors to cooperate and promote data storage technologies and solutions through standards, best practices, knowledge exchange and education.

SNIA Storage Security Industry Forum (SSIF)

It is SNIA forum working on developing best practices, technologies and promoting storage networking security.

Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA)

An association of manufacturers, systems integrators, developers and vendors of Fibre Channel (FC) based storage products.

Infiniband Trade Association

Some Standards Organizations and Committees active in developing and ratifying data storage standards are:

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standrads (INCITS) committees related to storage networking are:

Technical Committee T10 responsible for SCSI I/O Interface
Technical Committee T11 responsible for Fibre Channel (FC) Interface
Technical Committee T13 responsible for ATA Interface

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

The standard body responsible for IP (Internet Protocol) based Storage Networking protocols such as iSCSI, FCIP, iFCP.