The Announcement Olympics – HP, Skyera, and Violin/Symantec Start Things Well

Well, for just a moment there (it lasted from late Sunday night until early Monday morning!) I thought I had my life back….Bob Costas had said good-bye from London, the Olympic flame had been extinguished, and the medals were flying off around the world. Little did I realize that the storage industry was about to embark on its own Olympic-sized announcement effort. I have moved from the sofa to my desk, but I'm just as trapped and just as entranced! In much the same way that the TV coverage promised a smorgasbord of athletic delights, I can tell you that, based on what I already know, the next few weeks will contain a plethora of product revelations….it seems that everyone from the ingénues of the business to some of the elders has something coming out. And before I drop the Olympic theme, you can be sure a few records will be set, there’ll be both solo and team efforts, and – whatever else some theory may state – winning matters! I am going to try to cover these ‘Vendor Olympics’ over the coming weeks by giving you just the positions and highlights: unlike NBC’s coverage of the other, real, Olympics I won’t be giving you background life stories of the tough times developers went through with Cobol or dual-pathing, nor will there be a lengthy digression on World War Two (what was that!?). Nor will I have late night comedians creeping into my commentary [for Monty Python ‘dead parrot’ sketch aficionados, can you imagine John Cleese turning up: “This solid-state is no more, it is no longer spinning, it has shuffled off its electrical coil, it is an ex-rotator…it is an SSDead”!]. OK, I have digressed far enough.

To make a long story short, we’re headed into a busy storage announcement season. Monday kicked off with, among other things, a trio of very interesting announcements from (alphabetically) HP, Skyera, and Violin/Symantec. Each in its own way adds brightness to the light that shines on the changes that are here – and accelerating – for storage. Succinclty this can be stated thus: the storage world is more and more about software, and the underlying media (you still need some!) will be increasingly silicon (at least for active data) instead of rust.

HP’s rebranding of its erstwhile LeftHand Virtual Storage Appliance (the one that gives you a virtual SAN and its attributes, without the need to buy a real one) as the HP StoreVirtual VSA, shows that HP has awoken to the real value of a product it already owned. One can argue that the world has also moved in HP’s favor inasmuch as server virtualization is rampant and the kind of advanced storage features that StoreVirtual offers are therefore just as necessary in the SMB/ROBO space as anywhere else – and offering them in a manner that is both heterogeneous and agnostic in terms of the hypervisor and physical storage platforms is music to the ears of such users. Whether the rest of HP can embrace this new and pragmatic focus is going to be interesting to watch.

Skyera and the joint Violin/Symantec announcement are both making noise in the all-flash array sector. Skyera is really leaving its stealth cocoon and for the first time giving details rather than generalizations about its product. This is a busy sector and getting heard can be tough, but talking about a $3/GB price for raw enterprise-quality solid-state capacity is certainly going to garner Skyera plenty of attention, while the pedigree of its management and development team (a notable ex-SandForce contingent, plus storage and networking expertise – which is also the new ‘technical combo’ it is creating in order to add user value and ease the ability to actually benefit from solid-state performance) lends credibility, or at least - until it passes its full 'Missourri tests' – respect.

Comparatively, Violin is many steps ahead in the flash-storage race (with massive investment and a significant user base), but until now, it has been all - and successfully - about the app-acceleration hardware, and little else. That just changed in joint announcements made by Violin and Symantec, whereby the former brings all-flash arrays to the storage party, and Symantec adds the data management tools (everything from snaps, thin provisioning, and dedupe to all sorts of replication, for both storage efficiency and data protection). It’s one more sign – and confirmation - of the move of flash into the mainstream. If you’re going to be a full-grown storage player, you need full-grown storage functionality….and Symantec’s Storage Foundation is a well proven package for Violin in this regard.

There you have it. It is with great pleasure that I declare the games of the 2012 Vendor Olympiad open. It’s been an excellent start already, and I know we can look forward to plenty of great competition!

Topics: Storage