Storage Expo 2009 Recap

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We’ve just recovered from the exertions of Storage Expo 2009 – a show which has always been one of the better attended shows in the industry’s calendar. But what of this year’s show? Well certainly the financial climate and its impact on IT spending has been a major talking point over the last 12 to 18 months – but has the industry weathered the storm? According to reports – – there are some doubts as to whether we are over the worst of it, but the prevailing attitude of vendors attending the show this year seemed to be optimistic. End-users at the show, if not ready to put pen to paper immediately, were certainly talking about committing budget in the next three to six months.

What was interesting at Storage Expo this year was that for the first time the show floor was divided into three Solution Zones – HPC (which Spectra Logic sponsored), Virtualization and Cloud Computing. This was a great move – anything which gives attendees a clearer indication of where to go for certain types of technology is only going to improve the quality of the show experience.
HPC is a massive growth market and a huge opportunity for Spectra Logic – but does our headlining role in the HPC zone mean we don’t fit well in virtualized or cloud environments? Certainly not – in fact one of the reasons you won’t hear us talking as much about these subjects as other vendors is that Spectra Logic’s position is to sit beneath any infrastructure regardless of what, or indeed where, that infrastructure is. Data needs to be backed up and archived – whether the data is internal or external, physical or virtualized.
Whereas virtualization is now very much an accepted part of the mainstream IT landscape, cloud computing has a little bit less of a clear cut position. For starters there is still no real agreement on what the term refers to – is it simply Software as a Service? Is it just another way of referring to outsourced IT infrastructure? Is it just pay as you go compute capacity? Among the big disk storage manufacturers there seems to be a great deal of fairly frenetic R&D and Marketing efforts to gain mindshare in a market that seems to only be in its infancy.
Banking analysts say that cloud computing will be a $160 billion market within the next five years but certainly for the moment it is not something we see customers being ready for right now. From our point of view we also feel that organisations in the markets Spectra Logic is strongest in – Government, Healthcare, HPC, Media – will not be outsourcing their IT any time soon for various reasons. For this reason anyone who visited our stand might have found it refreshing how little we were pushing the whole cloud aspect.
Ultimately – the overriding theme at the show seemed to be the old staple of ‘doing more with less’. Even in times of plenty customers want the most bang for their buck, and vendors were competing to show that their products trump those of their competitors in terms of efficiency, cost-effectiveness etc. Spectra Logic’s stand featured a Spectra T950 in all its glory, and we’d wager there wasn’t anything on show at the other stands that offered anywhere near the capacity or density of this product.
Perhaps the other news of note is that Storage Expo will be replaced next year by a new show called 360°IT. As the name suggests this show will have a broader focus – covering general IT infrastructure, cloud and information management. What will this mean for the show? Well it will probably drive up attendance but conversely it is likely to detract somewhat from how focused the show is. At the current Storage Expo you at least know that end-users attending the show and walking up to your stand probably have storage infrastructure within their remit. At 360°IT you could find network managers, virtualization specialists, server admins – the list goes on. Conversely the show could end up attracting more director and C-Level attendees with wider remits who prefer the idea of attending a show which covers off more in one place. We’ll wait and see what the reality is…..