October 16, 2009 – I spent most of this week at the Storage Networking World (SNW) show in Phoenix. For the past couple years I’ve been advocating that SNW management consider (a) collapsing the show into one event per year and (b) getting more storage channel professionals (VARs and integrators) to attend and participate in the show.
I’ve changed my mind on (a). Assuming reports of a turnaround in IT spending have not been greatly exaggerated, I think the storage industry needs, and can sustain, two SNWs per year. Although attendance, the number of exhibitors, and product introductions were way down compared to the show’s heyday, it’s still a vibrant forum for the exchange of information between vendors, users and the channel.
And there did seem to be more channel presence at this week’s show.
In addition to meeting with a boatload of vendors, industry analysts and some end users, I had an interesting dinner with a startup that doesn’t fit into any of those categories: the Channel Chargers. Since they’re based in San Diego, their company name is even cooler than it seems.
Basically, Channel Chargers delivers an active link between vendors and reseller/integrators, providing channel strategies and also connecting vendors and VARs. Other outfits do this, but the management team at Channel Chargers has more channel experience than the other outfits, with a strong focus on storage.
If you’re a vendor, particularly if you’re a startup, that needs to establish or expand relationships in the channel, or a VAR looking for some interesting new products to sell, check out the Channel Chargers.
Back to SNW: There weren’t many products introduced at the show, but for a quick rundown of announcements see “Product highlights from SNW.”
As for the Most Interesting Product, I’d give that award to WhipTail Technologies, a startup specializing in solid-state disk (SSD) appliances
WhipTail introduced the Racerunner version of its SSD appliances, which include Exar’s Hifn BitWackr data deduplication and compression cards and software. The configuration provides an inline (as opposed to post-processing) capacity optimization appliance for primary storage. The SSD appliances are available in 1.5TB, 3TB and 6TB versions.
James Candelaria, WhipTail’s CTO, claims a minimum 10:1 deduplication ratio in virtual server environments, and on average 2:1 to 4:1 optimization ratios in non-virtual server environments (although deduplication ratios vary widely depending on data types). Factoring in the overhead associated with compression and deduplication, Candelaria cites performance of 60,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) on reads and 25,000 to 30,000 IOPS on writes, although the company has not completed its testing of the Racerunner appliances with the BitWackr cards. The deduplication/compression cards are offered at no extra charge.
Bottom line: When you combine compression and deduplication with the falling prices of SSDs, you approach price parity between SSDs and HDDs.
WhipTail also launched its VIPER channel partner program.
Overall, at SNW I sensed a level of optimism that hasn’t been present at the show for the last two years or so, both in terms of the general storage business and the show itself. I hope they can maintain the 2x/year format.