Attendance at SNW is definitely off this year, however the number of end users has remained pretty steady. The mix is actually quite good, with a nicer balance toward practitioners. Major themes at the show:
- Vendors are building out their top-to-bottom stacks, filling gaps from infrastructure to content management services to backup to overall storage services.
- These stacks are being packaged as 'cloud-ready.'
- True cloud offerings-- that is, highly virtualized, self-provisioning, object-based, multi-tenant, REST protocol, homogeneous, pay-as-you-go, always-on services are few and far between.
- I/O virtualization continues to show promise.
- SSD buzz continues.
- Continued emphasis on backup, archive and recovery with vendors trying to figure out how to re-position vis-a-vis the Data Domain acquisition.
- FCoE/Convergence is gaining ground - users are showing genuine interest.
- Storage virtualization is going mainstream.
- We hear lots of talk about fully automated tiered storage. Few vendors have it today, with the exception of 3PAR, Compellent and Hitachi (sort of).
- Solving the NAS performance problem is a recurring theme with several new startups applying intelligent algorithms and/or caching to dramatically speed up NAS and address the access density problem.
- We hear increased buzz about WAN optimization (e.g. Riverbed).
Action Item: This year's SNW in Phoenix has a better user/vendor mix, and fewer sellers are chasing more buyers. Competing events such as VMworld and Oracle OpenWorld offer compelling alternatives to SNW, with more senior-level end-user emphasis. Vendors should consider allocating resources accordingly, to the extent they want to reach a more senior user audience with less storage domain expertise.