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I was watching the iPhone 5 announcement with a sinking feeling; I am at the stage where I am thinking about upgrading my phone and have been thinking about coming back to Apple and I really wanted Apple to smash the ball over the pavilion and into the car-park (no baseball metaphors for me). But they didn’t, it’s a perfectly decent upgrade but nothing which has made my mind up for me.

I am now at the situation where I am considering another Android phone, an iPhone or even the Lumia 920 and there’s little to choose between them; I don’t especially want any of them, they’ll all do the job. I just want someone to do something new in the smartphone market but perhaps there’s nothing new to do.

And so this brings me onto storage; we are in the same place with the general purpose corporate storage; you could choose EMC, NetApp, HDS, HP or even IBM for your general purpose environment and it’d do the job. Even price-wise, once you have been through the interminable negotiations mean that there is little between them. TCO, you choose the model which supports your decision; you can make it look good or bad as you want. There’s not even a really disruptive entry to the market; yes, Nexanta are getting some traction but there’s no big market swing.

I don’t get the feeling that there is a big desire for change in this space. The big boys are packaging their boring storage with servers and networking and trying to make it look interesting and revolutionary. It’s not.

And yet, there are more storage start-ups in storage than ever before but they are all focused around some very specific niches and we seeing these niches becoming mainstream or gaining mainstream attention.

SSD and flash-accelerated devices aimed at the virtualisation market; there’s a proliferation of these appearing from players large and small. These are aimed at VMware environments generally, once I see them appearing for Hyper-V and other rivals; then I’ll believe that VMware is really being challenged in the virtualisation space.

Scalable bulk storage; be it Object or traditional file protocols; we see more and more players in this space. And there’s no real feeling of a winner or a dominant player; this is especially true in the Object space where the lack of or even the perceived lack of a standard is hampering adoption by many who would really be the logical customers.

And then there is the real growth where the exciting stuff is happening; this is the like of Dropbox, Evernote and others; this is really where the interesting stuff is happening, it is all about the application and the API access. This is kind of odd, people seem to be willing to build applications, services and apps around these proprietary protocols in a way that people feel unwilling to do so with the Object Storage vendors. Selling an infrastructure product is hard, selling an infrastructure product masquerading as a useful app….maybe that is the way to go.

It is funny that some of the most significant changes in the way that we will do infrastructure and related services in the future is being driven from completely non-traditional spaces..but this kind of brings me back round to mobile phones, Nokia didn’t start as a mobile company and who knows perhaps it’ll go back to making rubber boots again.


  1. Nick Pearce says:

    “Selling an infrastructure product is hard, selling an infrastructure product masquerading as a useful app….maybe that is the way to go.”

    Is exactly the way to go. We spend 50% of our time working on the interfaces to make our ‘infrastructure’ product fit into out customers workflows. Started as a storage company, staying as a storage company but moving towards interfaces out customers need.

    Wellies. We use lots of them down here also 😉

  2. Russ Kennedy says:

    Excellent post. Object storage is still in it’s infancy and as you point out, there’s not a dominant standard, but the successful vendors will build solutions that combine applications and infrastructure through efficient APIs that deliver needed functionality.

  3. Roger Luethy says:

    Good post Martin. Object Storage can (or will) be one of next the big things coming around the corner. I think it’s crucial that there is a standard where the Filesystem- and Operationsystem players can agree on. The intelligence is moving away from the Storage Subsystem.

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