For the first time in a many years, I am talking to more folks not at Storage Networking World (SNW), than are at SNW. This year finds half of the Taneja Group team in Las Vegas, at Symantec Visions, during the same week as some are in Orlando at SNW. Does this herald a shift in SNW? Quite possibly, but I'll have to admit part of the draw to Las Vegas is also all of the simultaneous energy in town between both Visions and NAB. So the next show may be more telling. Perhaps we'll hear some more from SNW attendees on how the pulse of vendor agnostic conferences are this year.
Regardless, I'm welcoming the conference cycle moreso than usual this year. For all of these shows, there's a stronger backdrop from changes in the infrastructure than we've seen in a number of years, and we're watching to see how these undercurrents are influencing vendor directions. For Symantec, this is at least as interesting as for any other vendor around. Those undercurrents are coming from the changing infrastructure capabilities surrounding the datacenter - both within and without. Over the past several years, we've seen the infrastructure grow new teeth - in large part through server virtualization, but also from other capabilities that have grown to maturity; things like scaleable storage systems (Block and File, with rich features like automated tiering, thin provisioning, granular snaps, etc.), virtualized security services, management frameworks, provisioning layers, efficient deduplicating data movement solutions, and more. Without, we've seen it grow new teeth in the form of integration with cloud services, multi-site replication capabilities, data movement, and more.
The possibilities from those different intersections look poised to significantly change how the infrastructure works - perhaps eventually delivering on the vision of a systematic set of technologies and processes that are so integrated and orchestrated that it starts to look like a truly elastic pool of application and infrastructure services that can be easily leveraged over and again.
In turn, each vendor is chasing that vision with perhaps never before seen levels of aggressiveness and attempted innovation. But every vendor has a different portfolio of possibilities, and a different set of internal and external forces to carefully navigate. So some vendors look to be charting a course toward growing gigantic own everything stacks - Oracle and Larry Ellison style. Other's have a clearer cut vision of where they can clearly and effectively execute on subsets of functionality, and still nurture partnerships, and thereby enhance their own ability to broadly deliver solutions. Dell may be the current vendor on the top of my list here - the EqualLogic integrations with a Dell server infrastructure, and perhaps in the future file services, look poised to be game changing in the increasingly virtualized and consolidated infrastructure, while not taking on more than customers want from an infrastructure vendor. Perhaps EMC is somewhere in this spectrum closer to Dell - but faces many more challenges, and has their fingers in many parts of the infrastructure where potential synergies with other solutions look equal part a competitive conflict of interest; a much tougher sea to navigate.
Symantec's place in this market is incredibly interesting. There have long been so many integration opportunities in the Symantec fold. And Symantec sits in this interesting middle place, where they have a broad set of services on top of the infrastructure, between the infrastructure and applications. Extending the infrastructure with management, file systems and workload orchestration; enhancing information capabilities; data protection; security.. Moreover, stacks and clouds may take them new places. The cloud is affecting customer behaviors - perhaps making "opportunities" more attractive than before, like archiving. I can see a long list of those changing behaviors that give Symantec new opportunities to innovate and grow.
More to come during the course of this year's visions conference.
posted by: Jeff Boles