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Storage Poverty

In the recent Infosmack that yours truly took part in, the issue of Storage Poverty was raised by Alex McDonald of NetApp. Although it was hard to get a hard and fast definition of what storage poverty is, what it really boiled down to was the paucity of true innovation within the storage arena and why we continue to do things in a particular way. 

This got me thinking about what some of the reasons are and why this storage thing is so hard; why is true innovation so hard? Why do we continue to do things the hard way? 

And I think it comes down to this, storage teams are the custodians of the life-blood of most businesses; the information which makes a business run. Customer records, billing records, everything you need to keep your business alive. You can probably cope with the a server bursting into flames and the odd application crashing but can you cope with your storage dying?

Is it really any surprise that we are so conservative? What we do has to work….So storage guys want real proof before they are willing to change tried and proven processes. And even if the process is broken, we know how it's broken.

Innovation always comes with risk as well as potential reward….are the rewards worth the risk? I'm not saying that they are not but it's a fairly easy argument to be placed in the way of any change.


  1. Craig says:

    Spot on Martin! Storage is the insurance, the protection, the last line of defense…
    Protecting the only real asset of some organizations calls for a conservative approach. There is no room for the bleeding edge here.

  2. VicenteM says:

    Innovation doesn’t always come with risk. At least it shouldn’t by the time it gets to you, the customer. My definition of innovation is helping a customer meet a need that otherwise was unmet, whether you do it with incremental innovation (adding new drive types) or by radical innovation (inventing a whole new architecture) should not mean a tradeoff between risk/benefit.

  3. John Martin says:

    Unfortunately in many cases sticking to the “tried and true” traditional approaches to storage managment actually increase risk when combined with what appears to be conservative “incremental” innovation.
    Incremental innovations like installing drives at larger capcity points while still relying on single parity RAID, low priority RAID scrubs and (increasingly difficult) traditional “Full + Incremental” backup regimes introduce risks that are often misunderstood, or severely underestimated.
    In many cases, I’d argue that introducing innovation is the only viable way of minimising risk in the long term.

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