Storage King for a Day: Dreaming of Storage
A few weeks ago I had a dream that I was the COB, CEO, and CTO of a major storage company, with the opportunity to architect and develop any product I wanted. Basically, I got to be the storage king in this dream, but of course, with being a king comes the responsibilities of your subjects (the company stockholders and employees) and your lineage (ensuring that you are successful in the market so your company has a future). Also, as a king you are periodically required to take over other lands (buy companies), make treaties with others (joint marketing and/or development agreements), or declare war and eliminate the enemy (beat them in the market to render them a non-factor).
As a mere storage consultant, I figured dreams could not get any better than this, and the best part was I remembered the dream in the morning. That next morning, I began thinking about the reality of what’s missing in the market and what requirements are not being met by the major product vendors' current product offerings.
The old adage “build it and they will come” may well apply to mundane evolutionary products, but what about revolutionary products? What market requirements are not currently being met, and if the market truly is ready for something revolutionary in terms of large storage configurations, what would the product look like and why would customers consider buying it?
What Market Requirements Aren’t Being Met
Again, if I were king, I would first have my marketing requirements people confirm my speculation, but I personally believe there are three very important factors currently missing from the market. First, though, let me define the market.
I like to differentiate between storage and data. Storage for the most part has become a commodity market. RAID, for example, is now sold by dollars per gigabyte ($10-$20 is often quoted), while back in 1996 I remember RAID costs of over $1 per megabyte.
With storage now delivered and marketed as a commodity, what about the critical information you put on the storage — your data? To me, that’s where the real value is. People in general really do not care all that much about storage, but data is a completely different story. I believe that in the future data will become a more important requirement of the storage architecture, and the focus might even change from that of storage architecture to data architecture. (Well, that’s my hope at least, both as a consultant and as storage king in my dream.)
So the bottom line is that as king I want to define the market for my company as data, not with data being storage, but rather how you access, protect, maintain, and migrate what appears as files on the computer systems used. This includes, in most cases, the file system(s) that are used on top of the storage. And while raw devices are sometimes used for databases, for all intents and purposes the database is really managing the raw device the same as a file system manages a raw device, which is why I contend the database is a file system.
With all of this is mind, let’s take a closer look at what requirements are specifically missing from the market today:
- High performance and predictive scaling
- End-to-end security
- Simplified management