Is There Still Innovation For IT and Storage?

December 23, 2008 – 1:18 am

Storage I/O trends

Is the IT industry and specifically, storage and networking segments currently lacking from innovation? The answer to that question exists in part due to what your definition or view of innovation is and how it is measured.

By some definitions, innovation is defined by how many startups exists as was the case in the late 90s and early 2000s when there was a large number of startup companies involving Fibre Channel, iSCSI, NAS, SRM, CDP, Backup, Compliance and Archiving among others.

Several bloggers have recently made posts about what is or what is not innovative as well as how previous innovate hype may have led to showing up on the not so hot or where are they now lists. Some examples can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here among others.

3Leaf, 4blox, Astaro, Attrato, Autovirt, Axxana, Candera, Caringo, Cassatt, Cleaversafe, Code42, Continuity, Cyberark, Digitalocular, Drobo, Fisec, FusionIO, Fusionio, Greenbytes, Iosafe, Monospehere, Moonwalk, Neptuney, Netrion, Nextio, Nirvanix, Numonyx, Ocarina, Open-e, Parrascale, Piviot3, Pliant, Racemi, ScaleMP, Seanodes, Stormagic, Storwize, Tarmin, Violin, Woven, XIV and Xsigo among others constantly show up in my inbox making announcements or preparing to launch, some have been around longer than others.

There are also several startups that are still either in stealth mode or preferring to keep a low profile for now. How does this compare to what we saw in the storage and networking industry during the late 90s and early 2000s, certainly not the same number or amount of money being spent on marketing startups, however there are still startup companies to fill the void left from M&A as well as to address new opportunities including in the converged storage, networking and server sectors as well as virtualization.

Look, here’s my point, vendors have been innovating and even more impotently, executing and delivering on prior hype and innovation with scalable and stable solutions. What of established companies such as Amazon and their S3 cloud solution are innovative or EMC with their cloud optimized storage aka Atmos are innovative? How about Sun with their open source based solutions are those innovate for the industry or for the vendor?

As for technologies and techniques, which are innovative or evolutionary, that depends, however some candidates include among others:

  • FLASH and RAM based SSD, both as component devices for installation into laptop, desktop and servers as well as into storage systems
  • Standalone SSD storage systems with Fibre Channel, SAS and SATA interfaces.
  • Innovations for FLASH include write performance optimization and wear leveling to boost endurance and reliability
  • Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and converged enhanced Ethernet (CEE) or Data Center Ethernet (DCE)
  • If you prefer Cisco version leveraging enhanced, premium loss-less and low latency Ethernet for converged networking.
  • PCI-SIG Single-Root (SR) and Multi-Root (MR) I/O virtualization.
  • Incremental enhancements including SAS shifting from 3GB to 6GB including switched SAS
  • 40 GbE along with 100 GbE, 8 GbE Fibre Channel along with enhanced InfiniBand and enhanced NFS V4.x
  • Cloud based servers and solutions for internal (private) and public (services) use.
  • Clustered storage and clustered file systems including object based access
  • Cross technology domain and infrastructure resource management (IRM) tools to support virtual environments
  • What’s your take, is there still innovation taking place in storage and networking, or, is it all just hype and execution delivering on prior hype?

  • What is innovation and how to measure it?
  • What is the value prop of an innovate solution that makes it a viable solution?
  • Does innovation have to be adopted to be considered innovative?
  • Who is innovating and who is executing?
  • Ok, nuff said.

    Cheers gs

    Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
    twitter @storageio

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