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Demartek Comments on the Storage Decisions Conferences of June 2009

19 June 2009

I was given the opportunity to speak at the Storage Decisions Conferences in June 2009, June 1-2 in Chicago and June 16 in Toronto. I was delighted to speak on two topics, Integrating Solid State Storage and Unified Data Center Network Infrastructure (also known as Converged Networking). I was able to have some great conversations with a number of end-users around these and other technical topics. More on that a bit later.

These were the first Storage Decisions conferences for me, and I enjoyed being a part of this kind of event. This event is designed to attract end-users only. I didn’t sense the same kind of industry hype that often accompanies some events. A couple of the speakers noted that there was very little Twitter activity around this event as compared to some other industry events. I’m guessing that this means that few of the attendees use, or have time for, Twitter, or this is one of those semi-stealth technical events where users actually discuss things in person with their peers. This is similar to the user group that I run in Denver, where even though I’ve discussed using Twitter, almost none of these technical users find it appealing.

Having put on technical conferences in the past, I find that there are two schools of thought regarding conferences. One way is to hold an event in a popular resort location with a pleasant climate, especially when the weather is unpleasant elsewhere. The thinking here is that people will be willing to travel to such a destination, and may be able to wrap some vacation with family and friends around it. The other way is to hold an event in major metropolitan areas expecting only local or regional attendance and focus mostly on the business at hand. The thinking here is that people will attend a local event precisely because they won’t have to get any travel approved. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages, but in the current economic climate, the second approach may be more appealing to many.

In the opening welcome session at both the Chicago and Toronto conferences, Rich Castagna, the TechTarget Storage Editorial Director, asked a few questions that prompted some interesting answers from the audience. The surprising response was on the data de-duplication question, especially because data de-duplication has been much in the news lately. A small number of users said that they were currently using data de-duplication technology with their backup software, in an appliance or with a virtual tape library (VTL). However, the vast majority of the users said that they were not using any data de-duplication technology.

In my solid state storage presentations, there were lots of good questions from the audience. This showed to me that people were very interested in SSD technology and were looking for specific advice about how and where to implement SSD technology in the best way possible.

In my Unified Data Center Network Infrastructure presentation, where we discussed converged networking, lossless Ethernet, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and related technologies, it seemed that the audience was hearing about some of this technology for the first time. There were fewer questions from fewer people, but those questions did show that people were thinking about the topic. I did have some good private conversations about this technology with a couple of users after this session. Clearly, the topic of converged networking and FCoE are on a slower track and are to be considered for long-term planning, rather than something for quick implementation.

In both presentations, I was able to share lab results from the Demartek lab, which I like to do in order to show how to apply the theory of the topic. Demartek is doing ongoing SSD and FCoE research and testing this calendar year.

If you work with storage systems in your I.T. organization, consider attending a Storage Decisions conference when it comes to your area.

This article is also posted on the Wikibon blog page.