I got a call from someone asking me what storage conference he should attend in 2012. I thought it might be interesting to list some of the lesser-known conferences and why they are interesting.
First, there's the USENIX Conference and File and Storage Technologies Fast12. Take a quick look at the technical sessions and the tutorials. Clearly, you see that this is a highly technical conference that also has a significant research bent, and it clearly has significant industry representation from almost all of the major storage vendors.
FAST is a great conference for those of you doing long-term storage planning and looking at technologies and ideas that might impact you in the future. It also is a good conference for those who have a shorter-term horizon. Over the years, there have been some very interesting papers presented at FAST that have changed the way we look at things from disk drive reliability to silent data corruption.
The second conference I recommended is the IEEE Mass Storage Conference. (For the sake of open disclosure, I may be attending this year, and my picture is on the website.) This conference has been around since 1974 and has become more oriented to high performance computing as well as large archival storage outside of the HPC world. This year, there are also tutorials on parallel file systems, which most large storage environments are going to be using over the next few years. Whether that parallel file system comes via a storage appliance or something you configure yourself is unclear. This conference does not look out as far as FAST, but it is also very technically oriented.
For those of you looking for something far less marketing and sales oriented than SNW or other conference of that genre, these are two conferences to consider.