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The ASNP Joins the Fray
More recently, the creation of yet another storage end user organization, the Association of Storage Networking Professionals (ASNP) was announced. This proposed end user channel is being organized by Daniel Delshad, who is also organizer of the Storage World Conference events. This initiative duplicates work already being done within the SNIA in terms of professional certifications and education, but offers an alternative vehicle for focusing end user input on storage networking issues.
Since Daniel Delshad is both chairman of the ASNP and organizer of the Storage World Conference, it's possible the ASNP could simply become a mechanism for recruiting more end user attendance for SWC. Greater end user participation equates to greater sponsorship fees by vendors for such events and consequently greater profits for conference organizers. This is not the sort of thing that is discussed in polite company, but should be considered before signing up for anything with User (or Professionals) in the title.
The emergence of these end-user focused efforts reflects the maturity of storage networking as a whole. There is now a fairly large population of end users who have day to day responsibility for shared storage and few channels for them to express their frustrations and requirements. This potential customer base, however, also provides fertile grounds for rampant opportunism, both by vendors of SAN technology and by people who make their livings on the periphery of the technology. Since end users are (or are rumored to have) gold in the eyes of vendors, anyone who is successful in organizing end users can become a magnet for vendor sponsorships and influence-buying.
The key to success for any end user organization is that the leadership remain truly in the hands of end users, as opposed to people who pay their mortgages promoting or selling storage networking technology. End users, however, are often too busy maintaining their own storage networks to volunteer the time and energy required to organize and sustain customer-focused organizations to represent their interests.
Local end-user groups for other technologies, for example, often owe their success to volunteers who contribute above and beyond their normal work hours. The benefits for end users are significant, however, in that these organizations can provide a wealth of information shared by peers and an opportunity to exercise collective strength vis-á-vis the already-organized vendor community.